Page 2 | 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: |
PumbaasCucumbas Sat 04-Jul-20 15:20:01

Well put goose, I think the concept of forgiveness (in both theist and atheist contexts) is as much about the hurt person acknowledging all the hurt and anger that someone has caused, but choosing to let it go so it doesn’t keep burning away at them, damaging their future or perpetuating bitterness or bad relationships with others. I think this particularly applies where the party at fault don’t ask for, or care about forgiveness.

It’s great that the OP feels compassion for her mum’s own victimhood and maybe understands why her mum couldn’t be the mother she should/could have been if her life had not been so difficult. It’s not a case of excusing it, but I’m sure lots of people with profound trauma, addiction or mental illness would struggle to look after themselves properly, let alone a child.

I personally think it is better to ‘blame’ the people who abused her, if you need someone to blame. Especially if this doesn’t involve hating an individual but a group as a concept “the men who abused my mother”. I personally think it helps to be able to reason out the pain rather than just taking some vague “shit happens” view of the world, or forcing yourself to feel angry with your mum if you have forgiven her.

ShinyFootball Sat 04-Jul-20 15:19:56

I'm sure you said you were one before? Apologies if not.

You were responding to and quoted my comment. It wasn't a generalisation.

'I think anger and then if possible forgetting over time is more useful.

That, to me, is a form of passive, silent forgiveness; keeping a wider perspective in mind or, at least, not holding on to a narrow one.'

Passive
Forgiveness
Narrow

Hmmmm

Gronky Sat 04-Jul-20 15:16:41

ShinyFootball, I was attempting to describe what forgiveness means to me. I'm sorry if you find that an imposition, I don't mean to suggest that you have to mirror my concepts of emotional processing. Could I also ask why you think I'm a man?

ShinyFootball Sat 04-Jul-20 15:06:48

Well no gronky literally relabelled how I feel.

He has no idea how I feel and it's not on to decide for me that however I think I feel, actually I feel something that I said I definitely don't feel.

I mean it's goady guesswork.

Goosefoot Sat 04-Jul-20 14:57:51

Talking about what words mean isn't telling you how to feel. It's possibly about what words might best express feelings.

Many people seem to think the word forgiveness implies acting as if something never happened, or that you don't feel badly about it.

ShinyFootball Sat 04-Jul-20 14:52:18

Any comment gronky on what you said to me last night?

ShinyFootball Sat 04-Jul-20 14:51:45

Are you two both trying to lecture me on how to feel or have I missed something?

Gronky Sat 04-Jul-20 10:00:21

Thank you very much, Goosefoot, that's a wonderful explanation.

Goosefoot Sat 04-Jul-20 02:15:32

People often have an odd idea of what forgiveness is. That it means saying something was ok, or not so bad, or didn't have consequences, or you'll pretend it didn't happen. It doesn't mean forgoing legal action or anything like that either. In some cases, some of those things might be appropriate but that isn't a requirement of forgiveness.

Essentially it means giving up holding on to what you can't control, and what you can't know. Which is pretty much everything to do with the other person. You can't really know what their problem was, you can't change it, you can't necessarily make them understand or feel sorry, you can't redress some sort of universal balance of justice. So you let that go, and it becomes possible to move forward and deal with whatever you have or don't have now. Often it's a process, but without it, you end up held down and burdened by all kinds of things you can't actually affect.

ShinyFootball Sat 04-Jul-20 01:38:31

Oooh gronky that's not nice.

You don't know what or who I am thinking about when I wrote that.

Don't classify my emotions for me please. Don't tell me I am engaging in passive (!) forgiveness (!). It's not ok to tell me my anger is passive and my forgetting is forgiveness.

Griefmonster Sat 04-Jul-20 01:19:54

I hear you and understand your reasoning OP. With love for you and your mother ❤️

Gronky Sat 04-Jul-20 01:18:27

I think anger and then if possible forgetting over time is more useful.

That, to me, is a form of passive, silent forgiveness; keeping a wider perspective in mind or, at least, not holding on to a narrow one.

netflixismysidehustle Sat 04-Jul-20 01:14:18

I understand what you're saying but abuse is often cyclical. What if the rapists were abused by their parents? What if those parents were abused by their parents?

I'm not saying that rapists can't help it because they were adults who chose their actions. When I heard about the horrible life that Baby P lived, I remember thinking had he survived then it wouldn't be surprising if he became a violent man too.

I was physically abused by my mum and 100% blame her. I have been NC for 20 years and have never introduced her to my kids because I want the cycle of abuse to end with me.

If this is how you want to deal with your past then this is how you should deal with things. Your past is your burden to bear and it doesn't matter what I think really.

ShinyFootball Sat 04-Jul-20 01:08:03

It features pretty heavily in Christianity I would say.

And having consumed plenty of their media, it seems to be a big deal. I've seen loads of people after terrible things say 'i forgive them' like a standard thing to say or something.

Anyway I don't forgive the people who have done (some) bad things to me. I think anger and then if possible forgetting over time is more useful. Depends how serious it was.

Hate doesn't factor. I agree hate is not a beneficial emotion.

Evelefteden Sat 04-Jul-20 01:03:41

Ah yes I see. Good night!

Gronky Sat 04-Jul-20 01:03:05

Goosefoot

The religious concept of forgiveness is hardly an American invention!

I wouldn't even say it's specifically a religious one, though it does feature in some religions.

Bufferingkisses Sat 04-Jul-20 01:02:52

My mother went through a similar upbringing to yours (started earlier, happened more often than you describe). I don't blame her for my childhood. I know she did all she could to be the best she could be for me. Sometimes it was enough, sometimes not, sometimes more than I deserved. She did her best, we have an excellent relationship now.

I don't blame men as a class for what happened to her or, by extension, me. I blame the individuals involved for their direct wrongs. I am aware of the patriarchal establishment that meant she wasn't protected and fight for better than that for my children and grandchildren. But blaming a "class" is worryingly close to the start of racism or misogyny. It, for me, falls into two wrongs don't make a right.

Apileofballyhoo Sat 04-Jul-20 01:02:27

flowers OP

I happily blame my DH's parents for many of his MH issues because I love him and think his issues are largely as a result of his childhood. I also remind myself and him that he is an adult and has to take responsibility for his choices. I blame my MIL's parents for her MH issues. I also feel both compassion for her and that she should take responsibility for her actions/choices. I never thought of blaming the patriarchy but it makes perfect sense if I think about it. I won't explain why except to say Roman Catholic Ireland 1940s/50s/60s.

What happened to your mother is horrific.

Of course NAM blah blah but that doesn't mean the patriarchy doesn't exist.

Also it's my life and I'll decide myself what I think is right or wrong when other people's actions affect me. By blame - I believe those people/ that system caused suffering and they/it are responsible for it.

You do what's best for you. flowers

Gronky Sat 04-Jul-20 01:01:46

This way lies restorative justice.
Inappropriate with many types of offence especially ones with a relationship/ power dynamic.

Sorry, I meant WRT Herja and her mother, on a private basis. I'm not sure restorative justice is applicable in either case at a judicial level, a both involve a power dynamic.

I'm not religious so I don't really get the forgiveness thing anyway tbh. Why is it so important to forgive? Who does it benefit?

I'm a card carrying atheist (though I had a religious upbringing). Personally, I think forgiveness (genuine forgiveness, not playground 'shake hands' nonsense) if achievable can help heal the victim because hatred burns in a very particular way that, in my limited experience, has unpleasant health consequences. I don't believe it's universally applicable or achievable and it can only really come from within; people can be helped there but can't be driven to it.

ShinyFootball Sat 04-Jul-20 00:59:12

Eve yes but the conversation has moved on.

ShinyFootball Sat 04-Jul-20 00:58:22

Sure but they are way big on it.

Evelefteden Sat 04-Jul-20 00:58:19

ShinyFootball

It also invokes the idea that women and girls should 'be nice' and understanding etc.

With other more minor offences, and if the perpetrator is genuinely sorry, there is maybe a place for it.

In sex offences, nope.

It's ok for women to be angry.

I'm not religious so I don't really get the forgiveness thing anyway tbh. Why is it so important to forgive? Who does it benefit?

This came from USA I think where obviously there's a big religious thing going on.

Shiny op is taking about forgiving her mother not the men.

Goosefoot Sat 04-Jul-20 00:56:11

The religious concept of forgiveness is hardly an American invention!

Goosefoot Sat 04-Jul-20 00:53:49

TehBewilderness

*No, "men as a class" is an abstraction, something that you could, for example, make a statistical statement about.*

It makes perfect sense to blame the ruling class for the rules they made that oppress women.
They could have stopped individually and collectively at any time over the last several thousand years and instead chose to glorify male violence instead. Why shouldn't the ruling class own the rules they make?

Oly if you define "the ruling class" as the people who actually make the rules, in which case you are talking about a concrete set of people, individuals who are enacting something.

If you define ruling class more broadly though, there may well be members of the ruling class who have never made any rules, have no power within that class, or oppose what is being done by others in that class. They don't bear any responsibility for what they haven't done.

A specific act - say passing Bill C-16, has been done by specific people who are responsible for their actions. Others who are in the same group by dint of their parentage, wealth, racial designation, sex, are not responsible for Bill C-!6.

ShinyFootball Sat 04-Jul-20 00:49:54

It also invokes the idea that women and girls should 'be nice' and understanding etc.

With other more minor offences, and if the perpetrator is genuinely sorry, there is maybe a place for it.

In sex offences, nope.

It's ok for women to be angry.

I'm not religious so I don't really get the forgiveness thing anyway tbh. Why is it so important to forgive? Who does it benefit?

This came from USA I think where obviously there's a big religious thing going on.

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