Women who know

I have a class on Monday nights at the Downtown Centre of the McMaster University campus, which is located at the corner of King and John, across from the John Sopinka Courthouse (which used to be the old Post Office).  My guy comes to walk me home so I look for him when I leave the building.  I couldn’t find him when I walked out so I asked one of the staff if they had seen him and she pointed across the street to the Courthouse.

My guy will talk to anyone; he has a special knack for connecting with people.  When we walk around, everyone says hi to him.  It’s really weird, sort of, how a person can make friends out of strangers.  He talks to everyone, as I said, but he uses that talent, particularly, to talk to street people, especially those with mental health challenges.  So when I saw him standing on the stairs next to a bundle of blankets, I thought, oh, he has a new friend.

He waved me over and I crossed the street to join him.  He introduced me to Dan, who was on a hunger strike for equal rights.  That’s interesting, I thought.  My guy said, listen to his story, Warmth (that’s what he calls me), so I shook his hand, introduced myself and asked him, what’s your deal?

Dan peered at me from under the brim of this baseball cap. He seemed young

Long story, short; you can see all 160 acts of abuse (as he calls them) on his blog:

His ex withheld some vital mail that caused him to fall out of the process of some sort of discrimination suit.  He wants the police to investigate, because it is against the law to tamper with someone’s mail.  They won’t.  The Attorney General doesn’t care either.  This has been going on for some time with no satisfaction to Daniel.

Apparently the issue has gotten so bad that his fiancé has been hospitalized because of the harassment (I think.  I should have read all 160 acts to the bottom – I bailed at 25….).  I’m all for a good cause, but this one seemed a little much.

The system, he says, pushes men to violence.

I’ve heard that before.  And sometimes I come close to believing it when I hear stories of women behaving badly.  And we all know that they can, behave badly, that is.  But that’s their business, I guess.  Or is it?

We women all know at least one other woman who has acted crazy in the name of “love”; who has cheated on her boyfriend or husband out of revenge; who has abused her partner with insults; who has gone out of her way to make him pay, however payment is defined.  It may be for something he did on purpose, but sometimes it’s just because of the way he is.  And she can’t accept it.

However, women can be quick to claim “victim”; we have defined it.  Women have been advocating for their beaten sisters for at least 30 years, for most of my adult life.  I was raised with this issue in the newspaper, on the news, and in the homes of my friends.  But as someone who reads stories from the past, I know that the history of domestic violence didn’t start in the 70s.

Fifty years ago, the police might very well have cautioned an abused woman that she ought to behave rather than scold the man for hitting her, never mind lay any charges.  Men didn’t get involved usually unless she was his sister, and then it was certainly a private matter, one hidden deep in the family.

This isn’t about men beating up women.  There are enough women talking about that.  Precious few men seem to care, but the women are all over this issue.

But women aren’t all over the issue of the woman who behaves badly.  No one wants to talk about her or her effect on the sisterhood.

What about those who make false accusations against men for revenge, perhaps, or some other twisted motive?  I man I know calls them “women who know”; women who know how to work the system so that it works in their favour and against the man.  A woman who knows can have a man kicked out of his house and paying child support for children that aren’t his, either biologically or legally.

Women who work in domestic violence follow a principle tenant that says:  believe the woman.  No matter what.  It comes from a long history of women not being believed.  It’s hard sometimes to do that, because somethings, sometimes, you know, you just feel, it’s not true.  And sometimes it’s not true. Sometimes the woman needs more help than she bargained for.  But she still needs help.


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