Abuse and honesty
This is a post about men who abuse and honesty.
There seems to be this presumption that transparency is the ultimate way to know someone, to know how they will treat you, to protect the self. I think I’ve mentioned this before.
And it makes sense right? If transparency = honesty = someone who talks more about themselves and their lives = being upfront with their intentions and motivations then…you, the individual is the sole person who can be responsible for what type of relationship you want to enter into with someone or whether you want to know them. It’s up to you—usually women—to know what you will and won’t put up with and to know yourself.
Never mind, that we can’t know everything about ourselves.
I reckon that this presumption is not only bullshit but harms women of colour, other women and people of colour broadly.
—The thing is though, lots of abusers are very honest about who they are and their actual abusiveness. And they tell their partners or lovers, yo this is what’s up with me. I either was like this and I hope I don’t relapse or I am actually like this and I can’t be bothered to change or I’m trying to manage shit somehow. I am talking about abusive ways of being—not little things that may annoy you about someone.
So what happens when you meet an abusive person and you don’t have much life experience and know some of what is up but you may be lonely or whatever or you may love them or feel sorry for them and enjoy a few good moments with them and try to overlook the bad stuff because you can ‘save them’/hope they change.
Like in my own experience with abuse, the biggest headfuck is how irreconcilable and paradoxical aspects of the experience can be. Like I recognise I had some agency but ALSO not much at all being inexperienced and young (and of course this can happen at all ages) and having fuckers gaslight and define my reality in the most horrendous ways. So its like you have two parts of you battling it out. The rational side which is like, yo I gotta end this shit—because what the fuck is happening to me and the irrational side which is his gaslighting, his trying to define my reality. Or if you’re really deep in the shit—like I have been, it takes other people to firmly ground you in some semblance of reality. These people care and want you to be happy and not chasing your own tail with dickwads.
Because that’s what it about. You can’t see a future with anyone else. You’re in this fucked up bubble.
And it can be worse sometimes for women of colour whose womanhood is often absent from broader society. It’s like if you are in an abusive relationship and lose big parts of yourself…and you know that racism contributes to the abuse, part of reconfiguring yourself may be through culture, race stuff, a woc feminism etc. And some of those things may be accessible, but little of those things structure societies in ways or even feminist orgs. that affirm woc and our experiences and identities. I feel like that with Blackness and womanhood anyway.
—But the people who can ride the coattails of white supremacy and misogyny INSIST that because they are honest then everything will be OK.
I think a good example is that xojane interview with Hugo Schwyzer. He lied in places but he is also incredibly honest and twists the act of honesty into a form of manipulation. Him and other abusers are honest about their abuse completely for themselves so that ultimately they do not have to take responsibility of how they hurt the woman. It’s the woman’s choice after all. I mean Schwyzer called his three ex-wives co-dependent. You mean all three of them? And I hate co-dependency BUT like when men call girlfriends needy etc. sometimes it’s just about us wanting to be loved and cared for—but while it may be objectively unattainable to get that from an abuser, the act of WOMEN wanting to be loved is condemned as well. But white, good-looking male abusers can expect some form of contrition from or acceptance because of his honesty. An honesty about fucking over women and girls. (Not just talking about Schwyzer here.)
The western idea of transparency is just so fucking overrated.
We blame victims of abusers for not making the right choices. It is absolutely incumbent on women to be able to support ourselves financially, emotionally and know everything about themselves. But if men have been abusive and he knows himself and admits to it, he is looked upon as a saint or at least someone who can make amends.
We blame children and other young victims of abusers and use the word naive in a pejorative way. When really it’s OK to like not know everything about the world, it’s OK to want some attention, it’s OK to think you can trust an adult, it’s never a young person’s fault if they were manipulated into behaving in a particular way that wasn’t healthy for them.
I don’t care how honest abusers are about the patterns of abuse. Particular constructions of honesty, using psychological language to prioritise their needs and blaming women, girls and boy children for not being psychics and being able to escape, resist manipulation or having perfect knowledge of abusive behaviour and themselves are what should be eradicated.