Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Faultlines

Oscar and I spent most of Friday and Saturday hanging out with Folk-Musician Gale. Usually she comes and stays with us on her way to and from gigs, but this weekend was happily agendaless--for me anyway--so our visit was much more relaxed. We talked a lot over food. Well, Gale and I did. Oscar's still pretty quiet.

Gale told me about a talk she had been to recently, where some historian/professor guy had spoken about the Connecticut witch trials--which had started much earlier and lasted longer than the more famous ones in Salem. I guess he cited the witch trials that had been going on in Europe (in particular, Germany) as the environment for such a similar environment to grow up over here. (Interestingly, I just listened to a lecture on that for my second church history class, and Dr. Rosell said that the witch trials were the result of the failure of the Puritan dream--a sort of backlash in reaction to the fact that what they had attempted hadn't worked. But I digress). This historian pointed out that most of the people accused of being witches were single women over forty who were about to become self-sufficient. Perhaps they were widowed, or had never married, and had somehow come into an inheritance. Whatever the case, they didn't "need" a man "in charge" of them anymore, and in that patriarchal society which was, as Dr. Rosell's comments point out, trying to build itself literally off of Old Testament laws and such, surely having independent women running around was seen as threatening.

Gale and I mused on this for a while, citing instances where it has been clear to us that, despite the feminist movement and other cultural shifts, people are still not comfortable with the idea of single, independent women. We don't have the word "spinster" anymore (thank goodness), so what do you make of us? Nowadays it's assumed we're all lesbians, but that is often not the case either. (Neither Gale nor I would fall into that category. It's still okay for us to hang out, right?)

Later in the day, the topic of "uncomfortable women" came up again. Gale mentioned how she absolutely can't stand it when people are talking about women in abusive relationships as women who have "made bad choices." As if it's the women are the only ones who need to be held accountable, and not the men who are perpetrating the abuse, whether it's emotional or physical. It would be just great if more women had enough self-esteem to notice when they're being abused and say, "Enough is enough!" and get out. But what about the women who are married to these guys and don't believe in divorce? Or what about the women who really love the men who are hurting them and are trying to do the right thing? Can you fault them for loving? Maybe it's a misplaced love, but God does it.

I do believe that men are misrepresented in society, too. It's pretty standard and pretty cliche to say that men are stupid and insensitive and all around jerks. That might be a subject for another post, because I actually feel pretty strongly about that. But right now I'm feeling strongly about marginalised women, who, in spite of the just-mentioned trend and the so-called advances in feminism, are still being marginalised. When women are verbally or emotionally or physically attacked, why are they the ones blamed for it? That happened all the way back in the Victorian era. Surely we're beyond that now? Isn't there some way to help people learn to trust each other . . . and to deserve each other's trust? Isn't there some way to hold people accountable when they jeopardise another's faith in them?

2 comments:

Elizabeth said...

Good thoughts! And I definitely agree with you about abused women. We had a woman in our school that recently went through that, and thankfully she had a lot of support from her family and from her co-workers to realize after so many years that it truly WAS NOT her fault that she was abused. Where that idea comes from baffles me. :/ I'm glad that churches are now getting better at being open to talk about those things.

Jennwith2ns said...

It's baffling to understand where that idea comes from until you've had a taste of it.

I'm glad, too.

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