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Is it fair to absolve my mother and, instead, blame men as a class?

(84 Posts)
Herja Wed 01-Jul-20 10:57:23

Following a disagreement, where I was told it seems a bit 'man hating feminist', I'm interested in your views.

I had an early childhood in which I was neglected and occasionally abused. This was to a fairly serious level, though not all the time.

This happened because my mother was a raging drug addict. BUT, I have had hundreds of conversations with her; I know why she was a drug addict - it was because she was raped multiple times by multiple men from the age of 13. In ways which were horrific. I can actually remember some of it.

So rather than blame my mother, I blame men as a class for my childhood. And I blame men as a class, rather than my mother, for my resulting poor mental health. I actually have a good relationship with my mum.

I'm pretty set in this view to be honest, but is it fair (Like I think)? Or is it not right to blame men for this (As I have been told)?

OP’s posts: |
theproblemwitheyes Wed 01-Jul-20 11:00:00

I think blaming any group as a homogeneous mass for anything is the sign of deeply flawed thinking. Your relationship with your mother is doubtless very complex, and her story (and by extension hers) is utterly tragic, but blaming anyone, and "men as a class" in particular is just a road to further dysfunction. I'd be addressing all of this with a therapist if i were you.

theproblemwitheyes Wed 01-Jul-20 11:00:36

It's definitely not fair, it's a pretty twisted way of thinking.

Pertella Wed 01-Jul-20 11:02:17

Blame the men that raped her, and the system which allows men to commit these horrible acts upon her with little to no risk of any consequences to them.

Herja Wed 01-Jul-20 11:29:52

To be clear, it's not like I walk about blaming every man I see - far from it, I rarely even think about it. Just when I do, when I consider how the fuck that shitstorm came to happen, I blame men and the patriarchy rather than my mother.

OP’s posts: |
theproblemwitheyes Wed 01-Jul-20 12:42:41

Yeah, I'd be seeing a therapist if i were you.

LouHotel Wed 01-Jul-20 13:16:52

It's a common theme that child abusers were likely abused themselves and that is a systematic problem but there is also individual responsibility to break the chain,

In saying you blame men as a sex class your absolving your mother of her responsibility. Her historic abuse may be the reason for the drugs and the drug abuse is the reason for your abuse but it doesn't excuse it.

SittingAround1 Wed 01-Jul-20 13:20:52

What were her parent's like ? They should have been protecting her from the abuse when she was a teenager. They have some responsibility in this as well.

BreakingTheChain Wed 01-Jul-20 13:24:41

You may be interested by the work of Bethany Webster.

BusyProcrastinator Wed 01-Jul-20 13:26:11

I’m with you on this. Blame men as a class.

The previous replies are basically “not all men are like that”.

Yeah but we have a system, led by men, that means your mother was abused by people who thought they could get away with it (and probably did) and that their sexual desires were more important than hers. If she’d reported it, would she have had an easy time through the courts? With judges who still think that 13 year olds can “seduce” old men?

Your mother is the product of a terrible system. Drug addicts need help, and in her case the cause is obvious. It is good of you to forgive her as it’s easy to blame people coping with trauma by using drugs.

And I’m sorry that this victimisation was passed on to you.

BreakingTheChain Wed 01-Jul-20 13:26:17

interested IN
Apologies, finding words is not my forte today.

veryvery Wed 01-Jul-20 13:35:01

You don't need to blame anyone. It's ok to just not know who or what is responsible. You are allowed to forgive someone without having to explain why. This does not mean you don't protect yourself from harm or address wrong behaviour just that you don't carry resentment around with you over what happened in the past. You are allowed to heal.

CharlieParley Wed 01-Jul-20 13:42:59

Difficult question. I think if you have been able to forgive your mother, it's because you decided to do so to make peace with what happened in your childhood. That can be a very liberating and healing experience.

And unlike PP, I think getting there by rationalising your mother's behaviour and establishing as its root cause the damage done to her psyche and body by men, in a society dominated by many of the same men who uphold and defend a system which enables themselves and their fellow men to abuse women and girls, is a perfectly logical thought process.

And by specifically talking about "men as a class" you have made perfectly clear that you are not blaming every individual man for your mother's abuse. In recognising (and eventually addressing) what allows such horrific abuse to happen, class-based analysis is an important tool. That you have also found it useful in resolving a painful personal issue is really good to hear.

stumbledin Wed 01-Jul-20 13:58:13

I find some of the earlier comments incredible harsh and lacking empathy.

I think it is brilliant that despite what happened to you as a young child you have not sort to excuse the abusers but seen the pattern between your experience and your mother's.

And to have a relationship with her is also really positive.

I dont want to probe into your family more than you want, but for instance there is no reference to your father. Why wasn't he protecting you. And if he was an absent father that for me just compounds the fact that men are always excused.

Its not just the individual men who abused your mother, but the fact that the system wasn't there to support her.

And quite honestly if you have found a way to live with your early experiences and remain in contact with your mother, just really shows strength.

And even if you didn't blame all men (the patriarchy) you have ever right to not trust any of them or it.

Women survivors are under no obligation to indulge in the NAM. Let the men who stood back and do nothing stand up and start doing something.

Oh yes - and please dont go for therapy. Most therapy is about trying to stop people who have every right to feel angry that they shouldn't and so how making them responsible for what others did to them.

And therapy like other professions is seeped with patriachal values.

It may be (after lockdown) that you can find a survivors group that you could join if you feel you want to be able to talk more about your early life.

More strength to you! flowers

Beautiful3 Wed 01-Jul-20 13:59:45

That's not right. I was abused by a family member too. I didn't choose drugs, which were offered to me at one point. Instead I worked hard to get away. I have children and I have never mistreated them. You cannot blame others for your own actions. Otherwise you're saying its not peoples fault who go on to abuse their own children, because someone did it to them?! Better support needs to be given on the nhs e.g. counselling on a long term basis. Including the homeless. Many homeless people have mental health/drug problems. They cannot access a counsellor or rehab, because they have no fixed address. But responsibility has to remain with every individual.

stumbledin Fri 03-Jul-20 16:42:43

Beautiful3 - that's really great that you had the will power and self esteem to keep your self safe.

But we are all different. OP is not you. You she has found a way of dealing with the situation.

Have you no thought that your comment could be really damaging to her.

Its one thing someone say I can run fast why didn't you.

Totally another to say I'm a brilliant well thought out survivor why aren't you.

@Herja - keep on with what seems true to you.

Many of us are "man hating" feminists without having had to endure what you did.

Good luck to you and your mum.

sawdustformypony Fri 03-Jul-20 16:52:16

Isn't 'man-hating' difficult to keep up all the time ? It sounds draining. Maybe, sometimes you're really into it and on other days not really that bothered ?

Asking for a friend.

stumbledin Fri 03-Jul-20 17:11:10

You misunderstand. man-hating is a slur some people use against women who speak up for women's rights and pointing out that with live in a patriarchy.

We need a few more men to be called man-hating because through their casual talk and actions every day it could appear they despise women.

Herja Fri 03-Jul-20 17:14:04


Isn't 'man-hating' difficult to keep up all the time ? It sounds draining. Maybe, sometimes you're really into it and on other days not really that bothered ?

Asking for a friend.

I wouldn't say I am! Lots of other people have though. I think I just think that NAMALT can get to fuck... If there's a problem propagated by the class of men, I treat it that way. Which apparently comes across as man hating.

She was homeless @Beautiful3, for a fair chunk of it. She was raped around once a year, often more, from the age of 13 (then a teenage runaway) until she was almost 30. That's quite a bit to deal with. I can see very easily how you could turn to drugs; particularly when you're deliberately injected with heroin by others as a young teen. I'd call that predictable, rather than shocking...

It seems 50/50 then really! Same as most of my views on here wink. I will perhaps file it in to the category of "I will blame men for this, but in my head only, because it will only cause arguments".

OP’s posts: |
PlanDeRaccordement Fri 03-Jul-20 17:20:51

No it’s not fair to blame men for your mothers childhood neglect and abuse of you. It’s not different from people blaming the mother of a serial killer for raising a monster. Your mother still had a choice and she chose to neglect and abuse you.

Many many women have lived horrific lives but do not neglect and abuse their children.

PlanDeRaccordement Fri 03-Jul-20 17:27:24

It’s just easier to blame big bad scary shadowy anonymous “men” than it is to digest the fact that your own mother neglected and abused you. That the one person in your life who should have loved and protected you, actually could not stand you and repeatedly hurt you. It’s hard to accept it because you have to struggle with feeling unwanted, unloved and all the psychic damage of parental abuse. So you’ve given mum a get out of jail free card and she gets to have a relationship with her adult daughter that she did nothing to earn or deserve.

Herja Fri 03-Jul-20 17:40:00

I think she did Plan. An early childhood is part of a life and she wasn't like that for all of it. Once her addictions were managed, with the help of others, she was an acceptable mother and loving figure in my life. The issue really was just a monstrous life and a lot of drugs to get through it, rather than a hatred for me as an individual.

So I choose to blame what made her life like that, rather than her. And what made her life like that was the men who raped her, friends, strangers, police, members of the army... and the men who injected her with drugs as a teen, to make it easier for them to control her.

OP’s posts: |
Herja Fri 03-Jul-20 17:56:58

But not just those individual men. Them in particular, but there is a reason that all those men felt able to do that. Particularly when she was still a child, and particularly also those in positions of relative power.

OP’s posts: |
CatandtheFiddle Fri 03-Jul-20 22:15:13

I blame men as a class for my childhood.

I absolutely understand your logic. And you're clear about men "as a class" a category. It's about living in patriarchy. All men benefit to a greater or lesser extent from the patriarchal structure of our society: a structure of power which is hierarchical, and places men as a class or category at the centre, as the only fully human half of the species, and relegates women , as a class or category, to the lower "non-male" not-quite-fully human position.

It's a difficult dangerous realisation, which most people (men & women, see the PP on this thread for example) can't quite cope with.

Most feminists understand what you're saying though.

stillathing Fri 03-Jul-20 22:51:54

I totally get what you're saying OP.

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