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What can I do to improve women's self esteem so they don't let men control them?

(6 Posts)
FlamingoBingo Mon 10-Jan-11 19:16:16

I have recently been really shaken up by making a friendship with someone who has suddenly broken off all contact with me, and the other people she'd been getting friendly with. From conversations we've had, and emails that have been sent, and the tone of the very overly-carefully worded email she sent when she said she was leaving the group we most often saw eachother at, it is very clear that she has been told to do this by her husband sad. I had really uncomfortable feelings about ways she's told me he's told her what to do and how to do it with the children before now.

Anyway, it's clear that, although I'll of course keep in touch, I don't think I'll hear from her again. She's ignored my last couple of texts - very non-commital 'hope you're well. Fancy meeting up sometime?' type ones.

I know there's nothing I can really do for her, except for keep in touch - but the whole experience has really renewed my fervour for furthering hte feminist cause. I'm angry that men are still being brought up to think they are more important than women and have the right to control them. And it saddens me that women are being brought up with such low self-esteem and poor role models, that they allow this to happen.

I think the word 'feminist' scares people, but I'm not afraid to label myself as one. But I don't think joining a feminist group would help, somehow - none near enough to me anyway. But what else can I do practically to help improve the lives of women in situations like this - women who have not been fortunate enough to be brought up to respect themselves and have allowed themselves to fall into situations where they are living with controlling, misogynist men?

What do you do to change things?

DippyHippy Mon 10-Jan-11 20:59:05

all you can do is change YOUR behaviour the way you are, and let the woman know you're here for her if she needs you. you cannot make a woman become a feminist or become stronger just because you know it will be better for her - some women simply like being controlled i guess. others dont have the strength, others find the strngth eventually.

i wish i COULD change many things in my environment, but i cant - all i can do is change to what i believe in, and hope..... x

sethstarkaddersmum Mon 10-Jan-11 21:01:34

I'm not sure really.... the only thing I would say is that if there isn't a feminist group near you it is incredibly easy these days to start one, thanks to the magic of the internet; I co-started one with someone who started off by putting a 'local feminist seeks more feminists' group on Facebook and advertising it on UK Feminista; this was only a couple of months ago and we already have 40 members.
but that is not really an answer to your question.
I think people like AnyFucker and Dittany on the relationships threads have an impact, just plugging away at helping people to see their relationships differently - because I have read plenty of posts now where women in abusive relationships have come back a year or two later and said 'they really changed the way I saw things, the Mumsnet threads gave me the strength to leave him though at the time I couldn't see it.'
so I think being prepared to be honest with people in RL and stick to your guns even if the message doesn't seem to be getting through, will be worthwhile.
(I am not speaking from personal experience here though, I don't know many women in RL in this type of relationship, luckily.)

FlamingoBingo Tue 11-Jan-11 10:48:19

I'm going to get on those relationship forums I think - it's a good idea. Women are asking for help but can do it totally anonymously, which must be enormously helpful.

Droppedinit Tue 11-Jan-11 12:48:49

Don't presume too much - there are just as many women who manage their partner's social lives, dress sense, friendship groups and career as there are men doing the same. One of my friends used to call her boyfriends 'projects' and was proud of her ability to get most of them to change their clothes and hairstyle within a few months. Another friend of mine used constant wingeing such that her (now divorced!) husband had all his CDs banished from the living room in favour of her insipid crap pop music (I am quite a muso if pushed and definitely sided with the 'him' in that case, but my words fell on deaf, super-controlling ears!!)

Droppedinit Tue 11-Jan-11 12:49:46

p.s she was a primary school teacher and not used to anyone in the room having an adult conversation with her unless she had the absolute last word! go figure!

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