Sexist Self Pity

Bloggified by Jake on Monday, February 23, 2009

Once there was a woman who started dating some guy she met while living thousands of miles away from home. They didn't have much in common and after about two months, they both were ready to call it quits.

Unfortunately, while he was away for the weekend reaching the same conclusion she was, it came to light that they'd created another person who'd be affected by their decision. So they stayed together throughout the pregnancy and moved in together.

That proved a harder than expected decision. While she thought getting a small apartment together might somehow focus them on the pregnancy and making the relationship work, he demanded that they find a three-bedroom place so his brother and best friend could move in with them. This was done largely because he figured she might flake out and move away, so he wanted others to share the rent in case that happened, and because he really didn't want to be around her very much and knew having his brother and friend around would serve as a barrier to his getting too comfortable with this woman he had planned to break up with only a few weeks previous.

Why he would think she would leave was obvious. For the entire first trimester of the pregnancy, he called her vicious, terrible things. She contemplated suicide several nights a week while she watched him sleep. She contemplated homicide the other nights of the week while she watched him sleep. His rude, uncaring behavior sent a signal to his brother and friend that they too didn't have to show her any respect. She found herself staying late at work, freely telling coworkers she just didn't want to go home.

He'd made it clear his behavior wasn't going to change. He didn't want to be with her and she didn't want to be with him, so why should he try to make things work. If she didn't like how things were, she should leave. Of course, he wasn't going to let her take the baby away from him. All she had to do if she wanted to leave was to sign over any and all parental rights to him.

One January night, she stared up the stairwell to their apartment, but couldn't get her feet to walk up them. She couldn't handle whatever he might say if she woke him while getting ready for bed or the emotional emptiness she felt sharing a bed with him. Instead, she found an old mattress in the garage and slept on that with no blanket.

Two months later, in her final trimester, she began debating her career. She wasn't making enough money to support a family and she wasn't having much success finding a better job in her field elsewhere. She knew if she moved back home where her parents and brother lived, she'd have a support system and a much better chance at finding a promising, good paying job. As she mulled this over one night after the guy--whom she hesitantly called "her boyfriend" just to remove confusion when discussing her situation with others--went to bed, his brother came home and she voiced her thoughts to him.

The brother told her flat out that she was going to be a terrible mother. He "didn't mean to be insulting" but loved his brother and unborn nephew too much not to speak his true feelings. The best thing she could do, he explained, would be to give up the kid, move away, and never speak to any of them again.

In the ensuing weeks, the brother became more disrespectful, culminating in an ugly incident where he used her computer without her permission and then indicated he had every right to take anything of hers if he damn well pleased. Even his brother (reluctantly) had to admit he'd crossed a line and declared the two of them couldn't live there any more. After some consideration, he explained to his brother that while he'd prefer she move out, he couldn't really justify kicking her out two weeks before their baby was due.

The story of how she'd "kicked out the brother" cemented her vilification in the minds of his family. Once, her boyfriend's father came over to visit and made a melodramatic comment about how unfairly the brother had been treated. When she said he was a rude ass, the father responded by cuffing her sharply across the back of her scalp. When she turned to her boyfriend for reaction, he asked what she expected if she was going to insult a man's child.

This scene repeated itself during labor when the brother called on the phone and rudely asked to speak to his brother during a contraction. When she said they were "kind of busy right now" and angrily called him an idiot, the father again smacked her in the back of the head.

After the baby was born, she faced a grim reality. She would have to move back home, even if that meant leaving her son with his father and possibly never seeing him again. Instead, her boyfriend, facing similarly bleak employment opportunities where they were, agreed to move across the country with her.

When they arrived, neither could find work quickly and he blamed her, saying he wouldn't have moved if not for her insistence he could find work. She gave up pursuing work in her chosen field and took an $8 an hour, graveyard shift job that was essentially an internship in the field she'd already been well established in a year earlier. He found a fulltime salaried job with benefits just days before the deadline he'd set for himself to give up, take the child, and move back to his family.

She continued to work at night so she could watch their son during the day. As other job offers came along, simple math showed she would actually be worse off taking them. After paying for daycare, gas, and other expenses, she deduced she'd be making just under $2 an hour. So she enrolled in an MBA program at Arizona State University. For two years, she stayed home with their son during the day, picked up freelance work whenever she could, lived off student loans, and regularly took home top marks in her classes.

After three years together, their son was finally nearing the age that they agreed they could finally break up. He would be able to start preschool soon, which would allow her to take a fulltime job without just dumping him in a daycare. But fate intervened again as another pregnancy test came back positive. Like an inmate counting the days to his parole hearing only to find a bloody shiv tossed into his cell seconds after a brutal stabbing and lockdown, she resigned to another three or more years of hell.

For a thousand days and nights, she tried to make the best of things. She knew what he wanted from a relationship and tried to provide it. All she asked was that he try to do likewise, but he refused. He knew what she wanted, but that wasn't what he wanted. Negotiation was a matter of "do what I want or go away and come back when you're ready to do what I want." He justified his attitude solely by paying the rent. If she didn't like the way things were, she could move out. He'd keep the kids and she'd be expected to continue paying the bills she was responsible for--kids' health insurance, tuition, etc.

Shortly after the housing bubble burst, they found an opportunity to buy a great house for a fraction of its original cost. She managed to come up with 10% of the cost for a down payment. This allowed him to use money he had saved to buy things like a fridge, stove, new couches, a new bed, and other things.

A year later, he again told her she had to move out. The kids were both in school now and the relationship wasn't progressing the way either of them wanted. He wanted to get married, but she insisted that before she married him, he should tell his family that they'd been out of line when they did things like tell her she would be a terrible mother and hit her. His only reply is that those things happened eight years ago and no one but she cares about them any more. He assures her if anyone in her family told her she's a terrible mother or hit her today, he would defend her (assuming she didn't do anything to deserve it), but that he doesn't want to dredge up the past.

Now she is moving into her parents' guest house until she can save enough money to get an apartment on her own. The only things she owns are a desk, a computer, a car, some bookshelves, two TVs, and her clothes. He knows she put up $16000 for the house, but considers that fair trade for all the years he paid rent. She has come to realize that for the better part of the last decade, he paid for goods while she paid for services. He has couches, a house, a kitchen, a bed, and more while she cannot sleep on her children's health, cook dinner in their education, or stretch out after a long day at work on their cavity-free teeth.

He will keep the kids and has asked her to continue paying the cable bill so he doesn't have to have to pay the installation fee if she cancels it. She has nowhere to turn as she's spent the entirety of the children's lives working freelance and jumping from job to job rather than getting in with one company and establishing her career over her parental duties as he has.

Forunately, this story isn't true. A woman in that situation would retain custody of the kids and would be given credit for being a stay at home mom. The fact she put down the money to buy the house and was the primary caregiver for the kids would prompt most judges to give her the house and instruct the man to give her a check every month to make sure she could continue the payments on it.

But reverse the genders of everyone in the above story and instead of a hard working woman being mistreated by a terrible, borderline abusive boyfriend (with abusive relatives), you have the story of a lazy, good-for-nothing, pussy of a man who needs to grow a pair and pull himself up by his bootstraps.

Or at least that's what I've been told for the last several years.

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