short story
women should be beaten
domestic violence
women are like men
destined for poverty
work and poverty
man away from poverty
dualistic paradigms
but be silent
living anima
one heroine's struggle
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"The psychology of oppressed peoples is not silly. Jews, immigrants, black men and all women have employed the same psychological mechanisms to survive: admiring the oppressor, wanting the oppressor to like them, mostly because the oppressor held all the power." - Pat Mainardi, "The Politics of Housework"

I have seen the correlation many times between oppressed people - and creatures - but didn't think of the psychology that developed from similar experience. My mother is adamant that God is a man - and when she was a child, she wanted to be a man, too. She was envious of the obvious power and freedom delegated to boys, resentful of her lack of options, society's limitations. She did nothing to circumvent her restrictions - she chided, hated and competed with other women - secretly hated, but always admired, men.

I grew up with her telling me that "women were boring," that it was men who made strides in science, literature, art. (Of course, she concluded that the reason why was because there was something innately inferior about women, not that women had no support and were forced to be the backbone to male egos for centuries.) Her reasoning was: what have women done? "They just want to stay at home and raise kids...", my mother often poked fun at what she named "girly-girls" - she didn't like the feminine exhibited in anyone, yet she did not compete with men on their turf. Although she was accepted at difficult, academic schools (she came-of-age in educationally-tracked West Germany), she chose to graduate from a vo-tech school. She didn't head corporations, make managerial decisions, or become a professional. She rose to the ranks of a barely-paid bi-lingual secretary. Instead of hating men or the patriarchy, venting her rage where it should have been vented, she pointed the finger at herself and every other caged woman. She became married, raised three children, and resented the endless array of household upkeep that weighed down her shoulders. She resented her children for just being there, because they caused all that work. She resented her husband, who never helped around the house and took years to view her own business ventures seriously. She was like the oppressed John Stuart Mill spoke about in his On the Subjection of Women:

"Though women do not complain of the power of husbands, each complains of her own husband, or of the husbands of her friends. It is the same in all other cases of servitude; at least in the commencement of the emancipatory movement. The serfs did not at first complain of the power of the lords, but only of their tyranny."

In all the anger my mother expressed, all her rage never went anywhere, never changed anything, though it could have fueled several revolutions. She accepted the patriarchal paradigm and turned her rage onto herself.


© 1990 - 2003 Katharina Woodworth

fantasy art