TW- domestic abuse.
The other day I shared this, quick recap: I co-parent with a not so nice man. Part of it was a terrible misogynistic joke that my ex said in front of our child, his friend, and the salesgirl who had the misfortune of encountering him.
This morning I had a chat with the eldest about that joke, and gave an explanation of what it was (chauvinism, misogyny), and why it isn't funny. I shared the wiki definition of misogyny—I'm afraid that just my say so isn't always enough with the eldest, he's a teenager, and while it's sometimes frustrating that he questions me so frequently, I'm also grateful that he doesn't just default to taking everything at face value. That IS something I've tried to instill in him, to do his own research, do his own thinking. I'm calling that a parenting win. Here is what wiki said:
Misogyny/mɪˈsɒdʒɪni/ is the hatred or dislike of women or girls. Misogyny can be manifested in numerous ways, including sexual discrimination, denigration of women,violence against women, and sexual objectification of women. Misogyny has been characterised as a prominent feature of the mythologies of the ancient world as well as of various religions. In addition, many influential Western philosophers have been described as misogynistic. The male counterpart of misogyny is misandry, the hatred or dislike of men; the antonym of misogyny is philogyny, the love or fondness of women.
We discussed how the joke was demeaning to women, and why the salesgirl didn't laugh. The eldest laughed at the time it occurred, partly because he's been half-raised to find degrading woman funny, and partly because he wants his father's approval, at any cost.
I get that part, most children want their parents approval, love, acceptance, and attention. Children will go so far as to misbehave to get attention from their parents, negative attention is better than no attention at all, is a fairly well known adage.
The conversation shifted a bit, and the eldest mentioned something about his dad saying mean things to women. On purpose. So, I made a decision, in that moment, to share something personal about his father and me. I don't typically talk about his dad in a disparaging way, this was an exception, a teachable moment, and I didn't say anything that wasn't truth. I usually keep the truth to myself.
When I was with your dad, he didn't call me by my name, he called me slut. He did this in front of our friends, his family, customers, even strangers. He would say things like, "Hey slut, go make me a drink," or "Hey slut, get in the kitchen where you belong and make us some food," or "Hey slut, know your place." It hurt my feelings, it was demoralizing, unnecessary, and just plain mean. *At this point, I was crying, because those memories HURT, and the eldest came over to hug me and he apologized for his father's behavior. Wow.*
I explained how awful and embarrassing it was to be treated like that, on a daily basis, when I was his wife and mother of his child. How it was just the way he addressed me, not because we were fighting, or angry, it was his daily way of talking to me. Because he didn't (and still doesn't) respect me, or any women.
When I was done speaking (and crying), the eldest looked at me and asked, "Just like he calls *father's gf* 'Jew' instead of her name?" I said, exactly like that. She may put on a front, and pretend it doesn't hurt her, but it does.
Being devalued, on a daily basis, in front of people you know, as well as people you don't, and even in private, is harmful. Period. It wears you down, bit by bit, until there's almost nothing left.
That was the end of our conversation, I really hope he learned something from it. If nothing else, I'm planting seeds. I hope that these seeds can grow, and choke out the weeds sprouted and spread through the vicious ideals he's being taught elsewhere.
I'll keep cultivating those seeds, and douse them with Miracle Grow if I have to, anything to keep my son from embracing those aspects of his father. I want him to be a better man than that.