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?

My step-father was. He was the only male in my and my sister's lives and he was awful. Simply, he believed that we existed for his convenience. My Mum became an alcoholic, my sister became anorexic (she has been for over ten years now) I was bloody lucky and because I happen to be a stubborn, not people pleasing person, I just got the physical abuse and neglect for refusing to tow the line.

He has royally fucked my sister's life. She can't conceive due to the anorexia and is married to a misogynist. She is so terrified her H will leave her that she enthusiastically endorses him paying prostitutes and going on 'lads holidays' to Eastern Europe in public.

I was blessed to meet DP when I was 16 (and still being beaten up by step-father) I honestly had no idea men could be lovely.

HerBeX Mon 06-Jun-11 22:47:01

Yep, the feminism section has definitely added to the reason the bastards hate mumsnet hasn't it?

It was bad enough that you had a bunch of that lowest form of women, mothers, talking to each other - but that you now have them talking to each other and analysing their experiences in terms of the systematic oppression men are perpetrating on women and children and sending them out of the virtual world with the weapons and language to recognise it - that must be terribly alarming for them.

TheBreastmilksOnMe Tue 07-Jun-11 12:33:27

This thread is amazing in the sense that it positively shines with women's courage and strength. It is also very sad to hear the stories and I feel a bit confused as it's making me question my own thoughts about my father.

Can someone please enlighten me? Is my father one of these men? I've always felt that he fears/hates women he was strict when my sister and I were growing-up, didn't want us wearing skirts/make-up or playing with my school friends who came from a council estate (we lived in a detached house, rurally).

He would shout and scream and be short tempered and would sometimes hit us. We were scared of him. He favoured me as the eldest but was bitterly dissapointed when my sister was born as she wasn't a boy. He excluded her and bullied her and got me to join in when my mum went out for an evening.

He made my mum get an abortion after falling pregnant with my sister as he never wanted children anyway. He would criticise and put my mum down and jibe her about her weight.

I idolised/feared him as a child and he turned me against my sister. He would criticise my mum's family for being 'common'.

My mum had an affair when I was around 8yrs old (i don't blame her) and my dad told me who it was (my primary school teacher, I was in his class at the time) it affected me like living through an earthquake. He turned me against my mother and tried to poisen me against her and her new partner. I stopped speaking to my mam for a couple of years.

I no longer speak to my father after he didn't akcnowledge my sons 1st birthday. I only sent him an email asking him why and I haven't heard from him since so there couldn't have been much love there in the beginning. He alwasy told us that he never wanted children.

I have had crushingly low self-esteem, awful past mistakes/men but now that nugget of self-preservation has found me an amazing partner so it's ended well.

Is he a misogynist bully?

HerBeX Tue 07-Jun-11 16:21:03

TheBreastmilk - er, yes, in short. You might want to go over to the stately homes thread. It might help you to thrash it out there with a supportive bunch of posters. Your father sounds absolutely appallingly abusive, tbh. He made you the golden child and scapegoated your sister - emotional abuse to both of you. How is your relationship with your mum and sister now?

thebody Tue 07-Jun-11 21:12:54

TheBreastmilk thats a bit like me.. not sure..

i love my dad, usually,.. he was brilliant when me and my sister were little but seemed to change when we got older.. he has always hit mum.. lots of memories of this.. he used to laugh after doing it and i remember laughing with him to try to make the situation better, concequently mum always said that i stuck by him in quarrels.. i was 8!!!

i used to wet the bed for years and mum took me to the doctors and told me to tell him that it was because of my dads temper.. i didnt.. of course.. again she blamed me..

he cant stand any of us to argue with him.. he has to be right and gets nasty when i disagree with him.. he was most argumentative when i am pregnant
he broke my sisters nose when she was 20, she is a head teacher and very clever and no longer has contact with either of them.. he is dismissive of her as she didnt want children..

i have 3 teen dcs and a dd of 13.. he was wonderful with them as children, played games for hours with them(just like with me).

i havnt had a shopping trip or conversation with my mum alone since i was 24 and shopping for my wedding dress.. as we were buying it mum produced a letter that dad had written stating what i would look nice in!!! he insisted on paying for all of it and i was grateful at the time.. but now i belive it was a control thing.

now my parents are in their 70s, have NO friends and spend all their time together.. my dh actually hates my dad but wont admit it. his parents were bloody lovely so i was lucky to have a wonderful fil and mil.. they didnt like dad either that was obvious..

i always want to please dad but its impossible, i work full time now but he is so dismissive..he also always mentions if women are fat.. i am 8 stone and a frantic dieter and think thats from childhood...

at least i know how to treat my dcs though, we have a laugh and are very supportive of each other.. and me and dh have NEVER quarreled in front of our kids EVER...

i wonder though if dad does actually hate women.. and why.. and what he would have been like if he had had a son..

thebody Tue 07-Jun-11 21:31:39

also to add ,sorry, when my dcs were little he instituted a 'boys club' where they would whisper together about 'silly granny and daft mummy' and he would undermine me about silly things like giving the boys 2 packets of crisps each before dinner..(or anything i had said no to) he never did a girls club for dd... so sad really..

TheBreastmilksOnMe Tue 07-Jun-11 22:08:43

HerBex- It's quite shocking for me to realise this because I think it's just 'normal' to you when you are growing up. My sister and I don't get on brilliantly, our relationship is damaged and I find myself acting towards her as I did as a child. She severed all ties with my dad a long time ago. Wiser than me.

I don't have a great relationship with my mum, I feel a lot of anger towards her for 'allowing' things to happen. Sometimes she seems so completely oblivious or just doesn't want to acknowledge the damage our upbringing has caused us. It makes me angry and snappy with her.

thebody- A lot of hat you are saying also rings true with me too. Something you said in your post made all my maternal instincts shout 'NO' when you said about the 'boys club'. It makes me bristle and I want to punch him for passing on his distorted views of women onto your perfect little dcs. My dad was also argumentative and had to be right. Are you still in touch with him?

What completely fucked up men. You know what, this thread has really opened up my eyes and got me all fired up.

HerBeX Tue 07-Jun-11 22:19:58

God both your fathers sound awful.

Sorry both of you. The Stately Homes threads may really help you. But if you want to talk in the feminist section about this, I'm sure you'll get lots of support here too. Thebreastmilks, that's one of the most appalling things toxic parents can do - screw up the relationships between siblings. sad

But yes in both cases it sounds like both your fathers hated women and abused your mothers and both of you. And then your own children, what a horrible thing to do to exclude your DD, thebody. I've got an uncle like that, he's jsut ghastly but luckily we don't see him that often.

My father wasn't really in my life, mainly because he had an affair with a much younger woman than my mother and then bounced in and out of our lives sporadically once the younger woman had my two brothers (I believe he had always wanted boys. He never knew how to communicate with us girls).

Looking back, the things he did to us at the time were horrific. He was racist, mysogynistic, controlling and lived to humiliate others (mainly women).
He criticised the way we looked, the way we dealt with things, the activities we went into...
We met up with him when my sister had just started Uni at 18. She was doing a Politics degree. All he had to say about that was 'why the fuck do you want to do that then? Load of shite.' hmm
I was sent to a dietician when I was 7 because I didn't want to eat mince (he would never acknowledge that I didn't eat meat - not my choice initially, it was a taste I never liked. Am still vegetarian to this day - I hate the taste of meat!)
He fought the doctor and my mother until I was prescribed build up drinks and protein shakes - there was nothing wrong with me or my diet - my mum felt she had to show that she was feeding me well after he accused her of child malnourishment! I had to drink these disgusting drinks 3 times a day for 6 months. They made no difference to me - I was the way I was. He was very angry about it sometimes and would try to force feed me.
He made such a big deal about how small I was, it was humiliating. I thankfully don't have any food issues, but I have many more, which are all down to him.
My mum was a very strong woman, and we took our male role model from her father. He was a brilliant grandparent and was everything my father wasn't. Thankfully. I loved him so much and miss him dearly - sometimes I crave that kind of relationship again.

Dh is lovely - far away from my 'father' in every respect. He is respectful, loving and makes it his duty to understand things from my - a woman's - point of view. He will be a brilliant example to our sons. As will I endeavor to be. I hope they break out of the cycle.

FIL on the other hand, is a prime example of the old-school pater system. He is intelligent,, well-respected in his community, kind, generous and understanding to a point. For him though there will always be 'men's work', and 'women's work' and things that women should not do.
He's not a bad guy, but his beliefs are so deep-rooted that he is literally unable to see any different. I wish to avoid this with my sons at all costs. He can be patronising and disrespectful in his own way - and I don't like this in the sense that it is still damaging - doesn't matter how subtle it is.

I would like to put in a slightly different view here. It isn't always men who hate women and their daughters; sometimes it is women too.

If you changed the personal pronouns in a lot of these stories you would have a picture of my mum. Constant accusations of being fat. I had eating disorders as a teenager and still feel very unattractive today. Fear and hatred of sexuality such that she would accuse me of wearing slutty clothes (I didn't), masturbating constantly (!) (even in front of her, which was rubbish!!) and even (sick as hell, this) accusing me of having sexual fantasies about my dad...I shudder really to remember some of the sick misogynistic things she said about me.

Women can hate themselves and their own sexuality and take that out on their daughters. My father was a classic enabler- 'don't upset your mum', serving her all day with cups of coffee and beer while she sat in front of the telly. (And he earned the main wage as well).

As an adult, most disturbing to me is that at times I found myself becoming an abusive person like her. I have not managed to establish a functional relationship as some of you have, and regret much of my conduct with my ex husband. I still have partial residence of my children post divorce and struggle every day not to lose my temper as she always did. I don't think that I have said the unforgivable things she did.

It has fractured me, this upbringing, such that I often feel I hate the part of myself which is like her, that I wish I were dead.

She's nothing like that anymore and now poses as the perfect grandma. I want to forgive, but I am not sure I have.

HerBeX Wed 08-Jun-11 21:19:50

allegrageller, it's true some mothers are toxic too, but this is specifically a feminist analysis of how the first relationship with the male figure - the father - affects women. The toxic relationship with mothers, might be a whole other thread.

Viz your not being sure of forgiving your mother - you know, you don't have to. There is this myth in society that you ahve to forgive people who have wronged you, in order to move on yourself, but I personally believe forgiveness is a two way process; you can't genuinely, truly forgive someone, unless they have participated in the process by acknowledging the wrong they did you and apologising for it. If your mother has never done that, then why and how should you forgive her? It takes two to forgive IMO and everything else is just a hangover from the Turn the Other Cheek commandment, which was a very convenient cloak for those who wanted to harm others without any comeback.

thebody Wed 08-Jun-11 23:01:12

The breastmilk, thanks so much for replying.. have seen your posts on other sections as well and always sensible.. yes i am still intouch with dad as my sister isnt i feel i have to otherewise mum is definatly all alone and i am now strong enough to let it all be water off a ducks back..

my dcs are now 21 and 20 and despite dad(who i made sure didnt see them regulaly) are fantastic mainly due to a fabi dad and lovely fil(now sadly died) who respected and valued women . so the cycle can be broken..

Herbex as well thanks but its still shocking to me to think bad of dad.. i always hope that he is ok and sometimes we have a laugh but then he will make a horrible comment or write me a vile letter and its all awful again..i just would like to understand why???? my sister just says hes a bastard and thats the end of it for her.. she says thats what keeps her sane!!!

my mother was abused herself by a domineering father, HerBeX. She passed that on directly to me. Sorry I should have made it clearer that I am trying to say that the 'masculine' form of dominance and abuse can also be echoed or mimicked by women. In my parents case there was a kind of gender reversal in which my mother was the dominating bully and my father the protective/codependent 'wife'.

I think the origin of my mother's abuse was indeed a specifically male form of abuse. However, as times change I think we may see more convergence/mirroring in the types of abuse which are dealt out. (what a depressing thought...)

(Apols if this is confusing. I am a gender studies lecturer so i'm always overthinking gender issues...)

HerBeX Thu 09-Jun-11 08:33:53

Hmm, you might find the pathologisation of femaleness discussion interesting allegra. It's just got to a point of discussing how personal prejudice manages to live with real life experience - eg what happens when a mysogynist has a daughter he loves, a homophobe finds out her child is gay etc. I suppose self-hatred must be part of that discussion - if you have been brought up to think of yourself as a group as inferior, dirty sinful etc, that must affect your view of yourself.

my point exactly HerBeX. I find these threads particularly interesting because of the crossover of stereotypically male behaviour to women. I think I have echoed it myself, at my worst sad. My own father was so meek and mild and delightful to me- when she wasn't there. I really have the deepest sympathy for everyone on here who suffered bullying by violent men.

HerBeX Thu 09-Jun-11 13:06:18

It's interesting to discuss the enabling aspect of the non-violent parent. Where the non-violent parent is the mother, it's often all too easy to find an explanation for why she has enabled the abusive parent to carry out his abuse; in the context of a patriarchal society, there are loads of obvious reasons why mothers go along with the abusive behaviour of their children's fathers. It's less easy to see why a father might go along with the abusive behaviour of their children's mother, but an assumption that he is not primarily responsible for day to day childcare, must form some part of the discussion I guess, apart from the other individual psychological factors.

LaceyW Thu 16-Aug-12 12:59:51

I am so glad to have found this thread. I realize that it has been awhile since someone posted but I cannot believe that there are people out there with a similar story to mine. None of my friends have a father (or mother) like mine. I have felt alone in this issue and just recently identified the fact that this type of person is not normal. I am adopted so every time there would be something unkind or abusive- my mother and grandma would say to me how grateful I should be to just, "....be alive." My grandma informed me recently that I would be dead without my parents adopting me. In my heart I know that is not a good excuse to abuse someone. As a child, they never protected me. Now as an adult they use my love for them and desire to have some type of relationship with a family to control me and my response to my father. My mom made me have him walk me down the isle on my wedding day by crying and telling me that I was tearing up the family. It did not matter to her that I was paying for my wedding. I paid for my own college. I paid for my own car. I had asked them to co-sign once when I was younger. They said no...... that my father could drive me anywhere I needed to go. The control tactics that they used well into my adulthood were incredible. I went to college clear across the country only to have my father follow me & move into a nearby hotel. My mother didn't seem to think anything was strange about that. My father has all the rights of a patriarch. He has not had a job in over 30 years and is totally, financially dependent upon my mom and his mom. He blamed me for getting fired back when I was 5 years old. He said that his boss was a racist and that when he saw a photo of me on his desk- he fired my father because I was not white. Now that I am a mom, I realize that I should never even have known about this as a child, teen, or even as an adult. If this was even true. My mom said that this event scarred him for life and he was never able to get up the courage to get back into the workforce. Me, not being white. I do love my mom. Her health is failing and she uses that to try to control me. I am better about saying no now. My father's health is failing as well now and so I catch myself feeling sorry for them and sometimes guilty for saying no to them coming to visit. My friends don't understand why I just can't write them off completely. Maybe because I am adopted and without a larger extended family. The fact that I have my own family now definitely helps me. That whole line about perpetuating abuse is not true.

Hey, lacey, hope you are ok. You are obviously a very strong person to get past all of that.

I just wanted to say - this is quite an old thread, so in case you don't get lots of replies (you might, I don't know!), if you look in 'Relationships', there's a long-running thread called 'Stately Homes'. It's set up for people who've had unpleasant/downright abusive parents and who've survived that ... if you were wanting to find people to talk to who're in a similar boat, that might be good?

Best of luck to you.

overlyoverwhelmed Mon 14-Jan-13 05:50:08

I am not a mum, but I want to add a message, hope that is OK. I have so many similar experiences to these ones up here, and there are three children in our family. We are all adults however, my brother is a critical man/husband all though he struggles, struggles to not be like our father - even suggesting ways for us to accept. My little sister has just started AA and I have had many un-healthy relationships with men/booze and weed.

I always wondered, just within myself how much of my relationships have been formulated (by me) based on my first significant adult, male role model. I have been to therapy and have a totally different relationship with alcohol and drugs but mostly I do not think I am ready to have an emotional relationship for fear of treating another amazing man as my wail wall.

The saddest constant is the way this man treats our mother. When he walks into a room with her there, she has cooked food or sat down to relax, maybe made a cake or her favourite slice he will raise his lip, stop look disgusted in the direction of whatever she has done and tisk and then sigh long and loud as a series of physical contempt for her and what she likes/does. It is heart breaking, she can never do anything right. He will blatantly talk to me and ignore her because she has done something wrong, the sad thing is at breakfast time, lunch time and then dinner and into the evening she will always be the target of his control and contempt. she doesnt cook dinner anymore because he likes to control what he eats... she will have to explain why there are more chips if fish and chips have been brought... it is so sad knowing all she ever hears is those long, loud sighs ALL the time.

I spent years away from them, but I have always come back. Because I hate to think of her without us. And the sad thing is we all know he didnt have the best upbringing - there is nasty (but all to familiar) sexual abuse in both there familial narratives. And it affected us as well. So it is a complex picture of change and healthy choice for me, my mum sadly will never leave him. And I am now trying to unpick the first and second male role model relationships I was involved in.

I have hope for my sis and bro and mum, sadly dad will never let anyone in - and by that I mean the suggestion that he needs a therapist before he dies so we all experience an apology from him. Until then he perpetuate his psycho-social behaviour, he giveth then taketh away.

snowshapes Mon 14-Jan-13 13:27:02

very very interesting, and I am sorry I have not had time to read the whole thread (at work). But I will certainly come back to it.

I was going to make Allegrageller's point really, as I identify my mother as toxic, and it is her who has done the most damage to my ability to function as a person and especially in relationships. As far as I know, my mother's mother was also extremely damaging to her, so I am not sure how far back you would have to go to find that it was really an abusive father who started it, I'm not sure it works like that. However, my father was an alcoholic and I've only recently started to think about the effect of this. I don't want to spend too much time unpicking their relationship (heaven forbid), but I think it is playing into stereotypes of women to suggest that any abuse they perpetuate is male forms of behaviour picked up - because it implies that women are the caring, nurturing sort and wouldn't do it. Whereas there are whole websites for daughters of narcisstic mothers - is that because narcissism is a more of culturally accepted trait in men?

Sorry, just quick thoughts.

snowshapes Mon 14-Jan-13 13:27:27

Oh, did not realise that this was an old thread. Apologies!

GunsAndRoses Wed 16-Jan-13 01:09:59

Interesting title. I can imagine a therapist saying that to Jeremy Kyles daughters one day. grin

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