Things I Will Never Understand, Part 7882

Okay, the blog binge for the day continues. Here’s the other thought I’ve been wishing I could get out of my head. In one of my rare forays into reading comment threads on popular-ish blogs, I waded through a lot of this thread at Pandagon. Since the general theme is parental notification on the reproductive health decisions of teenage girls, the tone of the disagreeing comments is unsurprising–a father who can’t imagine *not* wanting to know what his daughters are doing with their bodies, who sees is as his duty and his right to protect and guide and oversee their actions until…well, in this case, I’m not sure when it would stop, but the point remains. He asserts that he had a solid relationship with these girls and that, since they are fine Christian pro-life women, they would appreciate his guiding hand should they ever find themselves unfortunately pregnant and, as it stands, are grateful for his emphasis on their chastity.

I’m paraphrasing.

The Pandagonian regulars rally round to point out that he’s actually really icky, and kind of a control freak, and like I said, nothing much new or particularly convincing gets said.

Here’s what I find both intriguing and exceptionally hurtful: Because several women disagree with him on the subject of parental notification laws, Bruce assumes that these particular women would not want to talk to their own parents about a pregnancy and that their opinions are coming from bad relationships with their fathers. And he expresses pity for them for having lost out on the joy that is true, responsible fatherhood, and the lost souls that they have become for lack of responsible male guidance. He seems to get that he may actually be talking about seriously abusive asshole fathers and on some level, he’s not completely blaming the harlot feminists for their misguided opinions, but he refuses to see what bearing that might have on his own view that notification laws are the way to go.

Let’s try as best we can to leave aside the debate itself. I know, here I am using it to provide all this context and background and then all going all control freak on what I actually want to talk about on the off chance any of y’all decide to leave me some comments. My point here is that I see this sort of thing all the time–anti-feminists come in and condescendingly express pity for what must have happened to us to make us hate men. They offer these tsk-tsk kinds of head shakes and dismiss our opinions. In this guy’s case, he singles out Amanda Marcotte, presuming daddy issues and dispensing completely unwelcome pity. Several of the commenters feel that they have to preface their opinion on the law with a discussion of their relationship with their fathers–“I had a great relationship with my father, and I still…” etc.

As though their opinion is rendered invalid if they in fact were raised by an abuser. The same thing happens in conversations about sexual violence (and often about feminism in general, if people want to be really hateful)–my opinion on the subject is paradoxically less valid because I’ve been raped. The basic concept that all individuals are situated based on their experiences and that the experience of not having been raped or not having been abused is in itself a biasing one applies here. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to get that through my ex-husband’s head–that he was not in a neutral position on the subject of sexual violence, and that dispassionately rationalizing was, in fact, taking a side. Why the hell Amanda Marcotte or anybody else should have to make any kind of reference to her father prior to having an opinion is conceptually bullshit on its face.

But it’s also incredibly hurtful, and I continue to be taken aback at just how willing these people are to use it. Like I said, I think this guy, in particular (and many others) know that it’s possible these women were, in fact, abused or raped when they throw this pity towards them and use those points as a way to dismiss them, or reaffirm that they are broken. Hell, obviously, my ex-husband was aware of it when he did it to me.

And I can’t wrap my head around being willing to do that. I can’t imagine realizing that these things happen to people, that they are real and that they cause real, lasting pain, knowing that experiencing them would likely colour one’s experience of the world and recognizing that these things break people…and then not being able to take the step into thinking that maybe, just maybe, people who’ve been hurt in these ways don’t need to be reminded of it and dismissed because of it, again, some more.

It seems I spend a lot of time on this blog making note of all the things I just don’t get. In most of these cases, I really hope I never do understand them.

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2 thoughts on “Things I Will Never Understand, Part 7882

  1. BetaCandy says:

    As though their opinion is rendered invalid if they in fact were raised by an abuser. The same thing happens in conversations about sexual violence (and often about feminism in general, if people want to be really hateful)–my opinion on the subject is paradoxically less valid because I’ve been raped.

    YES! That drives me crazy. Yes, sometimes the person who had the experience isn’t so objective. But likewise, someone who hasn’t had it can be ignorant. Surely between the two, we can get at something like a general truth… you know, the kind we base laws on.

    It also drives me nuts that people assume either nothing happens unless it’s written into the law, and therefore everything they believe must be made law for the rest of us, too.

    As for the unsolicited pity, that’s totally a passive-aggressive act. Or else in order to feel good about themselves, they need to have this little feel-good dialog with their “enemy” before proceeding to slaughter them, so they have the dialog at you rather than with you. Because at no point did they ever plan on listening to you.

  2. purtek says:

    As for the unsolicited pity, that’s totally a passive-aggressive act.

    I know it is, and it’s a very effective one at that, because it’s so unbelievably hurtful. The pity is being expressed not just about whatever may have happened, but at the shameful, horrible fact of the broken opinions that were generated because of it. “I feel sorry for you, not only because you were raped, but that you had to become a *feminist* because of it. A fate worse then death, truly”.

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