One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

November 3, 2009

Feminism Week: The Conclusion

Me: So I wrote a blog post about feminism and our relationship

Ian: Oh?

Me: And Alison commented to tell me how Mary had once considered titling her thesis, “Can a Feminist Live Happily with the Oppressor?”

Ian: …Hm. Well, I do try to be the most benevolent oppressor possible.

I’m repeating this bit of conversation because I think it gets at what I’ve been trying to explain over the last few entries. Ian is totally the most benevolent oppressor possible. I am probably not going to, say, overturn my current lifestyle in favour of lesbianism or eccentric reclusion (both tempting, though, it’s true), so if I’m going to live with a member of the oppressing class, Ian is the best there is.

However, he remains privileged by society at large. The experience of near-equality that I enjoy in my home is, really, at his forbearance. If he should choose to take advantage of his privilege, there is not really any force that would tell him he doesn’t have the right. From mild privilege (telling me what I should weigh, what I should wear, demanding sex on his schedule) to more severe privilege (physical & emotional abuse, sexual assault) the majority of our acquaintances would give me advice centered on how to fix my marriage. His abuse of me would be my responsibility to fix, not his. Odds are that even in more severe cases, he wouldn’t see any legal consequences. If he drove me to leave him or if he decided to leave, the child support he would be obliged to pay is so small that it shocked him when I told him. And he would really only have to pay it if a) he wants to or b) I had the money and the stamina to hire a lawyer & get a court order.

I’ve had a number of past relationships go so very sour. I have also had the experience of trying to confide these abuses to a number of people. Across multiple relationships and multiple confidences with regards to each relationship, there has never (no matter how egregious the offense) been anyone* willing to advise me that I was not, actually, a second-class-citizen and required to take responsibility for the dude’s abusive whims. I was instead advised to find a more benevolent light in which to see his abuses, to get him counseling, get him medication, find some way for me to put out more (thus being sexually assaulted less? Brilliant).

Because of that past, I am highly conscious of the fact that, if Ian should choose he could be not-so-benevolent, he could be downright abusive, and I would really not have any recourse. It might be the end of the relationship and possibly (probably) I would (eventually) leave, but it would take a very, very long time for me to have the resources in place to support myself and three kids without him (which I had before he moved in, but sure do not have anymore) and until then, I would be at his mercy. And what that really means is that right now I’m at his mercy. I just happen to have done my damnedest to choose a mate who won’t take advantage of it, as far as I can tell.

I miss vacuous blogging.

Let’s go back to reporting light-hearted conversations.

Me: Go away, I’m blogging about you and I’m not ready for you to read it.

Ian: Really? Okay, well I better go fold the laundry so you’ll be free to tell the internet about how I oppress you.


* Let me qualify that experience by saying that I am probably just as terrible at choosing my confidantes as I have been at choosing mates, so there are probably people who would have advised me better and whose ear it never occurred to me to seek.

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3 ResponsesLeave one →

  1. Alison

     /  2009-11-04

    I’m totally going to start calling Ian He-Who-Could-Be-Not-So-Benevolent.

  2. judith

     /  2009-11-04

    That will make a change from He-Who-Almost-Ruined-Christmas. Ian will probably appreciate it.

  3. Alison

     /  2009-11-04

    Oh, at Christmas I’ll still call him that. Lest we forget.


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