So what if your father was a misogynist bully?

(72 Posts)
roseability Fri 07-Jan-11 14:35:42

Okay this is a sensitive area for me but I thought it might be relevant in this section.

I had a bullying, abusive adoptive father. I realise now he is a woman hater and I should have heard the alarm bells sooner. He is out of my life now and I am beginning to find my true self and heal from his abuse

I believe this is a feminist issue. Whilst societal patriarchy and inherent sexism is of course a huge issue, I wonder how it affects women when their first male relationship is with a misogynist and a bully.

Some examples - My adoptive father once stated that women who dress provocatively deserve to be raped. He was obsessed by how thin I should be and manipulated me into having my hair cut short. I believe he wanted me to look boyish because when I hit puberty he was threatened by my developing sexuality.

The pregnant form disgusted and terrfied him in equal measure. He told me I was fat repeatedly and forced me to diet. He raged, manipulated and emotionally abused me for years.

As a result I went through a period of disrespecting myself and my body and let men use me. I am sure it is related to my relationship with him

I am fine now! Therapy and a lovely family have healed me. I just wondered how signifcant this issue is for feminism and women's rights. After all if your father is a sexist bully, what chance do you have?

dittany Fri 07-Jan-11 15:08:31

My dad being a misogynistic bully turned me into a radical feminist. When you've seen it close up you know what you're fighting.

It's absolutely a feminist issue. After all patriarchy means rule of the fathers.

Sorry about what you went through with your adoptive father roseability.

giyadas Fri 07-Jan-11 15:26:45

My friends dad was a misogynistic bully, and she listened to and internalized every hateful attitude. He used to comment on her body, compare her to page 3 girls and ridicule her because he thought her boobs weren't big enough.
She dismisses every feminist pov that's put to her even though I have never met anyone who would benefit fron it as much as she would.
Her mum never backed her up either. She's a shell of the person she could be.
He's dead now but still has a devastating effect on her day to day existence. Men like that disgust me, and so do the people that enable their behaviour. The damage they can do should never be underestimated.

roseability Fri 07-Jan-11 16:28:01

That is sad about your friend giyadas. I often wonder how I survived to become the person I am today. I mean it still has lingering effects, but I am basically strong and whole. I went through a phase of allowing myself to be used by men but somehow saw what it was doing to me. I met my dh who is the opposite of my adoptive father.

My adoptive mother never backed me up. But then he has literally mentally abused away her very soul and she is also a shell of a woman. I have a suspicion he sexually abused me as well. In that he was definately inappropiate in my teens at times and a troubling memory from earlier in my childhood.

I see now so very clearly that he is a woman hater. I also believe that general misogyny and patriarchy allows this kind of abuse to continue and affect generation after generation

I met him at a wedding recently for the first time in over a year. I walked up and looked him right in the eye, something I had never done. I was polite but my body language, every inch of it read 'you can't bully me anymore'. He looked right through me as if I didn't exist but he knew I had changed. It felt so empowering and he looked so pathetic and small. Only a system flawed would allow a man like that to wreak the havoc he has done on me and my family. It s definately a feminist issue and feminism has been part of the driving force I needed to stand up to this bastard

roseability Fri 07-Jan-11 16:31:22

oh and guess what, his father was an alcoholic who bullied and beat up his wife hmm

giyadas Fri 07-Jan-11 16:56:21

You sound very strong, I'm glad you can see it's his fault not yours. Hope my friend will see it eventually too. It seems such a waste, I think the fact that he's now dead makes it hard for her to let go. She'll never have the opportunity to stand up to him.

quiddity Fri 07-Jan-11 17:48:18

My father was a patriarch: he literally saw himself as the head of the family. But that only seemed to grant him mysterious rights, not responsibilities. When my DB and SIL separated he said he had always known she would be a problem because she didn't change her name when they got married, and that was a sign of disrespect to him!
When my mother was abusing me as a teenager and I became anorexic as a result he did nothing to intervene because bringing up children was their mother's business.I excused him for a long time because he didn't actively abuse me, but neglect is just as damaging.
I remember once having a tiny disagreement with him and he started to shout. When my DB came to see what was going on, I tried to explain, but DF shouted, "She's lying! She's lying! Don't listen to her!" Women were not to be trusted.
Sometimes he would ask after various school friends of mine: "Oh, she's a lady doctor! A lady lawyer!" Clearly not the same as proper doctors or lawyers.
When he died he left his house to me because as the "single unmarried mother of three" I had "no real chance of finding a reliable partner." In other words I was a slut and a failure as a woman because I hadn't managed to hold on to a man.
Wonder why I have zero self-esteem...

AnyFucker Fri 07-Jan-11 17:51:17

I am not able to type more here

but yes, he was

and yes, it affected me (badly, when I was younger) and still does, in many ways

he is actually mellowing as he gets older though, and I am struggling with that

inde Fri 07-Jan-11 18:27:27

It disturbs me the amount of abuse people suffer at the hands of the very ones who should be protecting them. I'm male and have only really got over the (mostly) verbal abuse from my Father now I'm in my fifties. It destroyed my confidence. I didn't get any protection from my Mother although she was struggling to bring up six children. Mostly he was a good husband to her.
I'm really happy that the op has had the strength to get over this though. It's not easy.

ISNT Fri 07-Jan-11 19:36:56

Such sad stories here. I guess you all know about the stately homes threads? For people from dysfunctional families / horrible parents / that sort of this.

My father is a patriarch, but a benign one hmm

HerBeatitude Fri 07-Jan-11 20:17:32

I think it's a major issue for feminism.

There is a complete lack of discussion in the media and politics about abusive, dysfunctional households. One of the things that most pisses me off about the rhetoric of "broken Britain", "broken families" etc., is the implication that as long as both parents are living together and one is working so the family aren't claiming benefits, all is rosy in the garden.

One of the reasons feminism is so vilified of course, is because it challenged that view of the family. It pointed out that for many women and children, the family is a prison at best and a training ground in how to be an abuser or a victim. This is terrifying stuff for the patriarchy as the form of family we have, is indeed the underpinning of our mysogynist society and every blow to it is deeply threatening. The right wing are quite right to feel scared of the "break up" of the family as they have formed it.

My father fits into the category of bully, one of those men whose status as head of the family gave him loads of rights and no responsibilities, he was a drunk and violent and generally hopeless. My sister is an alcoholic, I had a period of allowing myself to be used by men when I was young and was involved in a deeply dysfunctional relationship with my (alcoholic) XP, my brother teetered on the edge of alcoholism when he was young before he sorted himself out and my other brother was clinically depressed for some years in his youth. But hey, they didn't get divorced, so the family wasn't broken, an ideal family, phew.

inde Fri 07-Jan-11 20:32:39

The trouble is these things are self perpetuating. A bit like sexual abuse where the abusers were often abused themselves. I don't know how you break this endless cycle.
I doubt it ever will be broken.
Some people both men and women should never be parents. Many more men than women though I think.

AnyFucker Fri 07-Jan-11 20:43:33

I broke the cycle, inde

I am not the parent my father was

and I married a man who is so far from him, it is out of sight

thankfully, I didn't stay with some of the fuckwits I met in my stupid youth, or the cycle would have been perpetuated

there was a nugget of self-preservation in me somewhere that said I deserved more than that

inde Fri 07-Jan-11 21:08:24

Good for you. I'm glad that self-preservation kicked in.
I will never know what sort of parent I would have been because my confidence was destroyed to the point that I didn't get in to a proper relationship until I was much older. I was always determined that I would learn from my Fathers mistakes though and I now have step daughters and step grandchildren who I have always tried to help and never abused. It seems to affect different people in different ways. Some people go on to repeat their parents mistakes and others learn from them. This may sound a bit self pitying but I have at last left the past behind and am much more happy and confident.
Anyway come to think of it I am off topic here as my problem and I think my sisters was verbal abuse or in my sisters case mainly just bad parenting rather than misogynism. To be abused and put down just because you are a woman along with all the other abuse must be awful.

notquitenormal Fri 07-Jan-11 21:17:35

y Dad is a misogynist bully. Routinely calls women 'cunts' in casual conversation. He is the most appalling person I have ever met.

When I was 13 I told hom to shut the fuck up, or I would leave and he would never see me again (my parent where seperated, so this would be easy enough.)

He didn't, so I did.

I've seen him about 5 times in the last decade. I don't care anything about him. He can live his sad, fat, drink soaked life far away from me.

Listening to his bullshit, and being able to decide to stop listening, has certainly made me ensure I don't have to listen to anyone elses bullshit.

My husband, and my step-dad are lovely in every way.

JaneS Fri 07-Jan-11 21:21:08

inde, that's so sad. It's good to hear you have step-daughters now. Like you I worry about being the parent my father was, so it is good to hear of so many people who've managed to break the pattern.

I think (wild generalization) that men who're misogynistic are likely to be nasty, controlling types in other ways too. It's a fallacy that you find people of whom everyone says, 'ooh, he was a sexist bully to his wife ... but otherwise such a nice man'. I find it odd that so many people post on MN about their unpleasant-sounding partners and qualify that they're 'great with the kids'. I bet it's the same kids, years later, who remember their parent as a bully. sad

AnyFucker Fri 07-Jan-11 21:21:23

thanks inde, and I am sorry for how your life has been affected too

abuse is not just a gendered horror

numotre Fri 07-Jan-11 22:36:36

My dad is a misogynist and its starting to rub off onto my brother which makes me sad

hester Fri 07-Jan-11 22:58:10

Yup, my dad too. Though as he absented himself for nearly all of my childhood I only directly experienced the damage of his absence, rather than the much bigger damage of his presence. But the physical and psychological abuse he meted out damaged so many people - my mum, his other women, his many children - that even with that little exposure, it has undoubtedly shaped me, my relationships and my feminism.

My brothers, btw, are lovely men - great husbands, great dads.

roseability Fri 07-Jan-11 23:19:49

Yes AnyFucker there was a nugget of self- preservation in me too. It is the only way I can explain how I survived.

AnyFucker Fri 07-Jan-11 23:50:30

< nods >

sakura Sat 08-Jan-11 05:17:28

yep...

IT's only after reading LUndy Bancroft that I now finally "get" how patriarchy supports these abusive men and their behaviour.
OUr culture, any patriarchal culture, supports and rewards misogyny, but tries to pass it off as the failings of individual, narcisstic men.
Yes, the men are narcissitic, but they have been encouraged every step of the way, by patriarchy, to look down on and despise women

I reckon there are lots of them out there. I thought these misogynists were rare cases because that's the myth society peddles, but now women have the blogosphere can can compare notes with each other, I've got the feeling that it's more normal than it's made out to be

And in those days porn wasn't everywhere like it is now...!

My Dad definitely falls into this category. He physically, sexually, verbally and emotionally abused me througout my childhood. He also was abusive towards my Mum and sister.

I'm a Stately Homes card carrying member and it is only in the last year or so that I'm really recognising that my upbringing wasn't even close to normal.

My Dad is very genteel, upper middle class, shops at Waitrose. However he is utterly dismissive of women. We were sent to university 'to meet a better class of husband.' My Dad has frequently told me what a disappointment I am to him.

I have no contact with any of my family and I am breaking the cycle. Excellent thread, roseability - sorry it's so true for so many of us.

victoriascrumptious Sat 08-Jan-11 09:36:04

I am not the daughter of a misogynist. To call him a feminist would not be accurate either. He's always been very laissez faire in his approach to everything big politics or small.

My FIL is however a misogynist bully. I can see the way it has effected my SIL's.

Like has been described here he oversteps the limits when it comes to commenting about the physical appearance of my SIL's. They are both slim attractive girls but he feels compelled to comment on every weight gain etc. He's tried it on several occasions with me but I am able to tell him literally to fuck off as I don't have anything invested in the relationship &therefore there is no emotional impact.

Both sisters have complexes about their appearance and would never be seen without makeup. One of them compulsively shops for clothes to her financial peril and the other is prone to under eating-even when pregnant.

SIL1 has married a man who also had entrenched views of how a woman 'behaves' however he is not a bully in the true sense-and he is slowly re-arranging his world view. The other SIL keeps herself emotionally distant from her partners to an unusal degree.

Both are unable to connect sexually with themselves and thus with men.

FIL is a seething mass of insecurity and fear underneath all the bullying and bullshit, like most men who seek to control in this way. I fear for his emotional heath just as I do for the SIL's

numotre Sat 08-Jan-11 12:03:00

I'm not sure about my father he did say some horrific things to me and my sister about our weight, appearance etc but he is was even nastier to my brother.

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