Thursday, March 10, 2016

Trial and retribution

You don't really understand what women are talking about when they talk about male privilege until you hear a (male) judge bellow at a woman that it really is true that if your (male) ex doesn't give his permission to you to move, you have to hand him your kids, and it doesn't matter whether he's ever cared for them or whether he is capable of caring for them or what's actually best for the kids. All that matters is he forbade you.

And I know you might say, well, the woman can forbid the man, right? Yes but here's the thing. When the woman leaves, everyone expects she'll take the kids. Men don't say, oh, I should keep the kids and you should run free. Do they? Even today, we assume the kids will just stay with the mum.

And you know, I've read in many places how terrible them Muslims are, because they think a man's opinion is worth the opinion of two women. But I'm left thinking, at least they have the decency to make that their law. In Queensland, we treat everything the man says as true, and everything the woman says as suspect because she's crying and we all know if you're crying, you're lying.

The worst thing is, this privilege is not just built by men. You are not just passive victims of a patriarchy, ladies. You help build it. The woman who shares that man's bed goes to court and hears lies told on his behalf, and she knows they're lies because she abets him in them, and she stays with him. The children's grandmother will swear to the world he's a wonderful human being (and I'm quoting verbatim) to get what she wants when she knows who he is. She can have no illusions. She's seen him hurt a child, physically hurt it, and lies that she did not. Not that the child is confused about what happened. Not that it didn't amount to what the child thinks it did. That she was not there, did not see it.

It is hard for me to hear lies and say nothing. It has always been hard for me to lie. I mean, I have lied. I was talking to the kids last night about honesty and they pointed out I had lied to R about smoking. I said, yes but that was a white lie. It was nothing to her that I had the occasional ciggie and she shouldn't have made such a big deal out of it. If it had gotten serious, I would have given up (as I have now). So it wasn't a real issue. But other things are black lies. And then of course I got into how this is just a minefield and it is. But still, even if there are "good" lies, we know there are bad ones, and hearing people say what is wholly untrue is hard. I do not know how these women are able to do it -- not just to lie and broadcast lies but to hear others lie and say nothing, do nothing.

Ultimately, so much of human relations relies on honesty. It really does. There is so much to gain from lying though that the temptation overwhelms some of us some of the time. I realise that most of us are not like me. Most do not torture themselves over the lies they've told; most do not have the need to tell the truth and cling to it like a liferaft in a world that doesn't make any sense.

I don't know where I was going with this. Trying to distract myself so I don't have to think about two little girls crying when their life is destroyed. Trying not to think about the possibility that a man decides that it is absolutely right that a woman should be punished if a man decides she should not be happy. Trying not to think about another man relishing the sorrow that he sows in her life and theirs.