So this will be my first post. Somewhat nervous as articulating anger in a respectful way is difficult. And describing an incredibly complicated situation without making it more confusing is even more so.
It’s been a week since I discovered the depth of my grandfather’s hatred of women. It’s the only way I can put it as anything else makes me feel like I’m downplaying the magnitude of the event. To understand what happened over Christmas (the holidays truly bring out the best in people) it’s important to understand where I come from. My mother is a rape survivor. She is truly one of the strongest people I know due to everything she has been through. Her Catholic (very) upbringing meant that when she found out she was pregnant from that unfortunate turn of events she chose to keep me. My mom has always made me feel loved and wanted despite being thrust into circumstances in which if I had been in her place, I don’t know if I would have done the same thing. Suffice it to say I was raised to be a strong, independent, free thinking woman. I don’t know if she identifies as a feminist, but through it all I was raised as one.
Moving on, two days after Christmas somehow brought up the topic of Julian Assange courtesy of my uncle. The topic of rape is a hot topic in my family and the buttons are usually pushed to get a reaction from my mom. The opinion was then raised that rape usually occurs to women who have somehow been living their lives in such a way that they then deserved to be sexually assaulted. Thank you Grandpa.
Twenty five years later my mom is still a slut who was “asking for it”. I am almost bewildered in my anger. Angry because I know that no one woman ever, ever asks for it. Angry because this my family and I never realized how close to home the misogyny hit. Angry because it did hit so close and I felt ill prepared to respond; that I am still unsure what my reaction should be. How do I begin to have the discussion where I correct misinformation about women to a 70 year old man? Even to the uncle that started it all? The entire event made me realize how deeply entrenched the patriarchy in society is; that somehow women are still property and men can do as they please with us. It made me realize how religious extremism cultivates these ideas and how difficult they can be to unwind.
As a woman and a feminist, I know my hurt and anger is justified. But somehow my stunned self is left wondering which way to turn from this.