Category Archives: Twisted Sisters

2010 Began with a Bang – Part 1

January is so done.

Sadly, I didn’t get to write as much as I thought.  So a review of the issues I wanted to comment on in January would be a good thing.

The year opened with news reports of a missing 16 year-old teenager from Barrie who met an older (42 year-old) woman online.  Usually it’s young girls being lured by older men; this was a different take on an all-too familiar story.  The age of consent in Canada is 16 so there was very little anyone could do here.  Fortunately, however, in Texas the age of consent is 17 and the woman was arrested as soon as she deplaned in Texas.  What’s good for the goose….

France announced legislation that would make psychological abuse a crime. We’ve long recognized the invisibility of emotional abuse, but try taking that to court.  A couple of years ago I was walking down the street I live on, a busy street in downtown Hamilton when I found myself behind a couple who were have an extremely stressful time.  He was waving his arms and spewing abuse at her; she was shrinking in her skin and trying to get away from him.   No one was paying attention, everyone was in their cars.  Except me.  I followed them down the street (at a safe distance).   It went on for two big city blocks.They stopped in the parking lot of a gas station where I went in and called the police.  I thought if a police car could just drive by, maybe he would stop his rant, give him an opportunity to just stop.  It’s not like there’s no cop cars in this neighbourhood.  Dispatch didn’t see it the same way I did.  “Is he hitting her?” was all they had to offer.  They said that unless he was hitting her, there wasn’t anything they could do.  In fact, I got the sense that Dispatch thought I should mind my own business.  Good on France.

The Cougarhood had perhaps it first fatality with the implosion of the careers of the Prime Minister of Ireland Peter Robinson and his politician wife, Iris (59) over her affair with a man 40 years her junior.  Popular culture has been playing up the cougar and her prowling ways with a light humoured wink-wink.  It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye, eh, and finds themselves secluded in a convent coming to terms with their rapacious ways.  In other cougar-related news, Carnival Cruise Lines has declined a booking for a second Cougar themed cruise, stating that there was no room for such themed events on their ships.  Families don’t take too kindly to old women poaching their young sons, I guess.  And down under in New Zealand, fur is flying over an Air New Zealand advert that plays up the cougar theme to the extreme in order to sell seats.  It didn’t go over too well with some women’s groups, rape survivors and Air New Zealand employees.  No kidding.

Next up:  Tiger’s women, passing lights and off with her veil…

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.

News – Eddie Cibrian’s Ex: “He Broke My Heart, So I Broke His Harleys” – Celebrity News – UsMagazine.com

I was in the middle of writing about just this sort of thing when I read this account online.

If he had done this to her, and then boasted about it in the press, he would have been charged.

There is no doubt that relationships are difficult to navigate, sometimes at the best of times even, but really, we all need to get over oursleves and think about the bigger picture.

Welcome to the Vixenhood…

We have all been agog this week with the events that have transpired at the Wood’s mansion in Florida.  The web has been busy with updates and playbacks of the sorry situation that yet another sad man has gotten himself into.  What was he thinking? we have all been asking each other as we analyze his predicament.  I hear the men are laughing over at TSN.  And if they are playing true to type, the late night laugh masters are making hay with Tiger’s humiliations.

Perhaps we can commiserate with his wife, surely an innocent in all this – although some would say that in marriage there is no innocence – but to have her husband’s dalliances with cocktail waitresses,a so-called publicist (just whose career is being promoted? wink, wink) and only who knows how many others, bandied about in bars and boardrooms, around water coolers and even the dinner table is not what a wife wants to have to bear.  Even the best wife.  No one, really, wants to be that martyr.

A conversation starter it surely has been.  If you’re in a relationship and you’re not talking about it, it may be because there’s some danger there.  Who wants to open that can of worms? you might be thinking.  These events provide us with an opportunity to reflect on our behaviours as a culture, for Tiger is not alone.  Let’s see, how many prominent men have subjected their families to public comment because of their wanton ways?  Eliot Spitzer, David Letterman, Mark Sanford, John Edwards….

What I have found interesting in this story is not the indiscretion of a young man too rich for his britches and full of his place in the world.  It is that even with his famous face and busy life, there were at least three women who seemed to have no problem in having an affair with a married man.  And that number has grown in the days since to nine.  If this isn’t an issue for the sisterhood, I don’t know what is.

I’m all for privacy in the bedroom.  Quite frankly, it’s none of our business who Tiger Woods gets into bed with nor what he does when he gets there.  However, the salacious nature of sexual scandal seduces us; like the pull of a magnet, and our attention gets drawn into the details and we can’t look away.

What I see is a sorry state in the sisterhood.   Or shall we say, the vixenhood.

I suppose women have been cheating with other women’s men for thousands of years.  Nothing new here.

And I suppose that the women’s movement has fought for the same rights that men have enjoyed on the grounds of equality and have advocated for women to have the freedom to live their lives fully; to take advantage of all of life’s wonderful opportunities.  But does that include another woman’s man?

The women’s movement, from its beginning, has been busy trying to find ways to get women to live with respect either independently or with a partner, or partners, for who is to judge another, really?  But honesty is the mark of an equal relationship and we should demand that be the case with our partners.  We don’t have to accept behaviour that demeans our role in the family, for in family is where women find their faith, no matter what the mater.

But this isn’t about Tiger, this is about women who should know better.

It’s not like it’s a secret rule, it’s two of the commandments.  Two.  The one about adultery and the one about your neighbour’s wife, or husband in this case.   Good thing we don’t stone people for such behaviour in our culture.  Instead, we give them millions of dollars for their story; they hire publicists to capitalize on their fame, and then wipe their mouths and say they’ve done no wrong, as a friend of mine likes to say.

The women’s’ movement has fought for women so that they don’t have to be dependent on any man.  It’s nice to have one around, they’re fun to play with, intelligent to talk to, and have those big strong muscles that the Y chromosome gives them.

But really, sisters, there’s lots out there, go get your own.

Sisters at Work…

I haven’t been doing much else this week except working.  The project that I’m working on is something that I haven’t done before.  I was asked to write the text and compile the evidence for an accreditation document; a job above my pay grade, for sure, but I’ve enjoyed reaching for the understanding that I’ve needed to put it all together.  It’s almost done; will be by the end of next week.

When I left work on Friday, I left a completed draft on the desk of the dean.  It was just under 400 pages, and I know there are some missing pieces.  I expect the finished document will run in the 500s.  I’ve never made anything so big.  It was an organizational feat in which I am still slightly in awe.

What else I am in awe about is the help that I received from the staff in the program in which I was working.  I don’t work in this program, I work in another area of the Faculty, but they were awesome in maintaining a cheerful, helpful and humourous atmosphere while I asked for documents and gave them more work to do than the day rightfully allows.  I could not have done it without their help.

The program administrator demonstrated a commitment to her work that was truly inspiring; students can reach her 24/7 with concerns.  She can take care of anything with a smile and a good word.  She did a huge amount of work getting together everything I asked her for.  Some things she had to create.  Her two assistants made time for my requests.  I overhead one of them say: “I’ll do anything Margaret asks me to.”  I don’t think anyone has ever said that before.  I’m going to hang onto that phrase for a long time coming; it gives me a warm feeling.

What a difference it makes, working in a pleasant environment. 

The first job I had, when I was 18, was an eye-opener, let me tell you.  I was working in the automotive sector (we won’t name names, but if you think I’ve forgotten any of them you’re mistaken) in a parts department with another woman and the manager, a guy.  This woman was about 35 and had been there for three years when I came on board as the computer operator.  I worked in a little cubicle with the mainframe (it was in the olden days) and she worked with the manager just outside my cubicle.  We were separated by a big glass window and a wooden door.

The manager decided he wanted to us to learn each other’s jobs.  That was cool with me, I thought it made sense.  She didn’t.  In her eyes I was this perky 18 year old chickie, who’s hanging out with the guys in the parts room trying to take her job, and more, as we will see.  As for what I thought of her, well, she talked about everybody in the place; I knew she was talking about me too.  It made me really self-conscious with the other women because they seemed to love her

One day, I came into work, said hi with a big smile (because I really tried to get along with her) and offered to bring her a coffee down when I went upstairs.  She said sure.  I could tell she was in one of those moods she got in, the kind that led to a full verbal assault on someone not in the room.

I was in my cubicle, playing Star Trek.  It was an early video game that I indulged in when waiting for work.  I saw her get up, walk around her desk and come toward my door.  Shit, I remember thinking….

When she came in through the door, she shut it carefully, turned to me and with her finger pointing in my face she proceeded to run up one side of me and down the other with her tongue lashing out all kinds of verbal nastiness.  I was stunned, to say the least.

It went on for some time.  I was trapped, sitting at my terminal while she stood in front of the wood door.  And she didn’t let up.  She accused me of trying to steal her boyfriend (who worked in the next shop).  What a joke I thought, as his form flashed through my mind – yuk –  did I say I was 18 and he was ancient – like 40.  Are you f—- crazy? I thought to myself.  But I just let her go on.  She was on some kind of rant.  What she didn’t know, though, was that the manager had walked into the outside office and could hear everything she was saying.  I tried not to look at him while he stood looking over at the window.  He waited for a few minutes then left.

She eventually stopped.  She told me if I ever told anybody she would punch me in the face.  Yeah, right, I thought, as I had this vision of her hauling back and hitting me.  I made noises that were non-confrontational.  I tried to defend myself, but how can you tell someone that you I think their boyfriend’s gross?  I simply said she was mistaken and I was sorry that I must have overstepped my place.  I had only the greatest respect for her relationship. 

At the end of the day, the manager came into my office.  Sly and crafty guy that he was, he began by talking nonchalantly of a project I was doing.  He then told me I had to tell him everything that happened. I tried to defer; no, I said, she’s over her mood, and in fact, she could not have been nicer to me for the rest of the day.  But he wasn’t having any of it.  I heard what she said, he told me.  Tell me everything.

So I did. And while I did, I laughed and laughed as a huge burden lifted off my shoulders. 

My mother had been trying to get me to quit this job.  She could tell that the way I was being treated by my co-worker was having an effect on me.  She heard me in the night.  And she was right.  The only thing I hated about work was having to walk on shells and compensate for this crazy lady.  I thought I was taking the higher road by trying to understand why she was such a bitch to everyone, who apparently loved her.  Loved her because they were scared of what she’d say about them.

The next day when I came into work, she asked me if I said anything to the manager as she glared me in the face.  I told her that I didn’t have to say anything and that he heard her but he asked so I told him.  And right then, the manager and his boss, the controller walked into the room, told her to pack up her things and escorted her off the property.  That stunned me even more.

Well, it turns out I wasn’t the first person she freaked out on, more like the third.  The difference this time was that it was under a different manager and he actually heard her.  He told me that she had been making mistakes for weeks and blaming them on me.  On purpose.  Can you believe that?

Welcome to the working world. 

She was one twisted sister.  I hope she found some peace with herself and security with her boyfriend.  She must be about 65 by now.  I wonder if they’re still together?