Battery

2 Mar

We were out for a walk, my Dad and I, chatting as we do. Or, attempting to chat, since he has this irritating habit of not listening to one’s point and talking over them.

Somehow we started talking about Rhianna, and I was talking about how disgusted I was by someone releasing the police photos of her injuries, how cowardly someone has to be to beat their partner.

“Well,” he says, “We don’t know what happened. She could have started it.”

Once I picked my jaw up, and reminded him that she’s likely 90 pounds wet while he’s fairly large, it became

“She probably pushed him to it. That’s what happens-she starts a fight and won’t let up and he just loses it.”

“I suppose then,” I answered, “That drunk women deserved to be raped to?”

“No…no but…”

“You realize Dad, that while a real man might feel frustration and annoyance in a fight, he will never HIT a woman-that it doesn’t matter what SHE has done, that it’s WRONG?!?”

He muttered off into the distance of the video store. I stood, staring through Iron Man boxes and wondering if I really knew my father after all.

He’s old school, I know this. He grew up during WWII, during an entirely different set of stressors, son of parents who lived through the depression, son of an alcoholic and a woman eventually placed in a sanatorium, for what I was told was TB but considering the time he spent living with an Aunt and how little he speaks of his childhood, I really wonder.

He calls maxi pads “sanitary napkins”, and won’t even name tampons. He believes, firmly, that men should bring home the bacon, no matter how many times I point out that it doesn’t matter, and that he raised a daughter who is perfectly capable of bringing bacon home. He won’t speak if I mention abortion, or my inclusion of possible girlfriends for the girls in conversation.

He likes spam.

What kills me is that if Dad knew of anyone raising a hand to me in anger, he’d kill them, or at least try if he knew. No one would lay a hand on his little girl. And yet, regarding the broader world, the woman is at fault. He’s stuck in that head of the woman always being the problem, the mistake, the reason.

And people don’t understand why I’ve never told my father about being molested. Or rather, why I’ve never told him when he’s sober.

I love my father. I truly do-with every fibre of my being. He did what he could to raise me after Mom died, and while I know there are many shortcomings, he did love me. There is no question of that fact.

But it scares me, to think that in his mind tidbits like this live. That he thinks a beautiful, talented young woman in the midst of the most wonderful time of her life, was asking for it.

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7 Responses to “Battery”

  1. Hannah March 2, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    Ouch. That’s hard. I’m never sure exactly how to react when an older relative verbalizes such a belief – because on the one hand yes, they are a product of their upbringing and their generation, but how far can that excuse things?

    My nanny, who I loved dearly as you know, was horribly racist. She never (to my knowledge) expressed anything overt to a person of another race, but I certainly heard some chestnuts from her over the years (about blacks and Chinese people in particular, for some reason).

    I finally just said one day that I didn’t agree at all, and that it made me uncomfortable to hear her talking that way. I agreed not to browbeat her for a belief structure born in the 1920s if she agreed not to repeat vile stereotypes to me. It was a truce that lasted until the end of her days.

    I guess in a weird way you could take it as a sign of his trust in you, that he felt he could express that point of view. I mean, he lives with you – he must know how you feel about domestic abuse. I’d maybe take it that way and just hope that you can wear away at his predjudice through the example you set for your beautiful daughters.

  2. LarryLily March 2, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    What I cant understand is how she could go back to him, which is what she did according to the press. She is the one messed up here in more than being physically abused.

    First time shame on you, second time shame on me.

    I bet that in short order there will be another episode, and i will feel nothing towards her but pity.

    Him, well, he is just a jerk, and he needs to become some big bad mans girlfriend in the house of many doors.

  3. Kathyp March 2, 2009 at 2:50 pm #

    I often take for granted how liberal (for their generation, at least, but like Hannah, I believe that shouldn’t be an excuse for their behavior) my parents are.

    My grandparents were a different story. I was half-raised by my grandma, who in most respects was the coolest woman in the world, but one day out of the blue I asked her is she would disown a child if she found out he/she were gay. Her answer was an emphatic “yes,” despite one of my mom’s close friends being a gay man, and she never seemed to have any problem with that.

    I didn’t know what to say about that, and being only 19, 20 at the time, I didn’t push the issue any further.

  4. thordora March 2, 2009 at 3:25 pm #

    Yeah, my father can get going about gays-HGTV does that to him. But some of my best friends have been gay/lesbian, and he’s loved them along with me.

    I think it’s usually the principle he hates, not the person. It’s difficult to reconcile either way.

  5. cooledskin March 2, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    Your father’s opinions are getting to be very mainstream again. I’m presenting a paper at a conference in April about the Rihanna/Chris Brown “thing” and rural justifications of the violence. Almost everyone I interviewed said the same thing your father did. I’ve also hear arguments that we’re making too big of a deal of it, because they’re both young, or because we’re sexist. ‘What about all the men abused by their partners?” they say. “Let’s seem some equality here!” they say. It’s really disheartening.

    I’m disappointed that she’s getting back together with him, but not surprised. On average, abused women try to leave their partners over two dozen times before they finally do for good… If they ever get away, or live to tell the tale. What’s more frightening is that society is essentially saying that when women step out of line men have the right to smack them right back into it, and Rihanna seems to be providing tacit acceptance of this with her return. I’m raising a daughter, and I want to be sure she knows this is not acceptable behaviour from any future partner she may have, male or female. But I can only do so much, society has its say too….

  6. Seleste March 3, 2009 at 2:40 am #

    Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

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  7. antropologa March 3, 2009 at 5:42 pm #

    Oof. That is quite a statement from him. My grandfather once told me all bad things (AIDS, killer bees, etc.) come from Africa. Glad you stood up for reason.

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