Take this scenario:
There’s a woman in a Third World country, on frequent basic, beaten, humiliated, sexually abused by her spouse. People around tell her: Don’t make a fuss out of it, you can handle it, don’t you. Look, is there any woman in this village who is not ever beaten, or yelled at, or get a bit rough treatment in bed from times to times? And moreover, your husband doesn’t let you go hungry, and he’s polite to your parents. So get over it. Such is life of a grown up woman.
Another woman from a First World country hears about this. She got pissed off. How can they say it’s ok? This poor woman needs help, and everyone, instead of recognizing (and by that sympathizing) that she’s in a tragic situation, tells her that it’s no big deal, that her pain is not eligible, to ignore it and live with it. How lonely it must be when you can’t be accepted as a victim. We have to empower her, arm her to fight her oppressors. We are sisters.
There’s a woman in a First World country who has to send her 6 months old baby to the kindergarten to go to a lousy office job, sit there whole day, eaten up by remorse, picturing her baby behind the wired kindergarten gate, longing for mum. At times, when fetching her kid, she saw black bruises on the baby’s head from falling or some 2 – 3 years old bastards hit her. Every morning, the kid screams deafening when dragged to kindergarten.
The newspapers tell her: it’s very good for your child to gain social competence, to be independent, and for you to be a career woman. Look, is there any woman in this borettslag who doesn’t send kids to kindergarten at 1 years old? Not doing so is even child assault. She thinks: If they say so, it must be ok, isn’t it. I must be just silly, am I?
After work, she has to join ‘unspokenly – obligatory’ department quiz and drinking, dragged from one pub to another. She can’t afford to refuse company outing as she fears losing her job. She has to keep her job, as she must earn to pay half the rent, build up her pension since she’s cohabiting and must be independent in case of separation.
But I’d like to be with my baby. The TV says: So who do you think will feed you if you just sit on your bums at home after maternal leave? Well, they’re probably right. Independent means having only myself to count on.
When separation did happen, her neighbours told her: Are you grieving? Seriously? It’s no tragedy, people survive it. Your child goes 50-50, so good for her. Congratulation on your regained freedom!
She looked around, convinced. She knew she was in the majority, she was doing just what almost 60% of the society is doing, so how could it be wrong? She put on her make-up. The annoying old chap will see, he’s no big deal. She’ll find the next one in no time.
She did. But the next separation happened even much quicker. She started to wonder if she wanted to put one more ex into her love life resume. The best-seller authors say: why you think you need a partner at all? You need freedom, go out and get it, enjoy new partner every weekend, why commitment, if it anyway breaks up after all? You can look after yourself. Such is life of a grown up woman.
So did she.
She once woke up in the aftermath of a party, cracking her brain trying to remember where the hell she left her underwear. Who was the guy? Was she raped? But in the end, who cares?
Time goes by.
She looks after her sick kid by herself.
(By the way, her kid got pregnant at the age of 14 as in school they illustrated to them how to have sex at 11. And she also looks after her grand kid by herself.)
She looks after herself during cancer treatment.
She looks after herself in the senior house.
All her life, there is only a sense of ‘by herself’, as she has no one else to count on. Sometimes she wonders if ‘independent’ is the synonym of ‘lonely’. The therapist she was sent to tell her that everything was very good, she had a job, she had her freedom to do exactly WHAT SHE WANTED in life, everyone feels down sometimes but she can manage it as ‘such is life of a grown up woman’.
Because the newspaper says so, the TV says so, the neighbour said so, the best-seller says so, the psychologist said so, how can it be another truth against such an army of truth-teller. And she’d rather die ALL BY HERSELF than to be dependent.
…. because only women in some Third World country who is beaten, humiliated and abused are. Dependent.
The previous woman from the Third World country hears about it. What? Doesn’t want to take care of your own kids? And she doesn’t give a damn who the little girl is hanging with to get that lump on her belly? What kind of mother she is. And she can’t even get herself a stable relationship and lets men pass her like sex toy from hand to hand? She must be ugly. For sure women who has dignity also don’t drink. The Third World woman doesn’t sympathize (she’s from Third World, you know). She think Westerners are just crazy.
Yes, we are sisters. We need to claim the right of our pain be recognized and treated, whatever kind of pain it is. We need to fight against oppressors who keeps feeding shit into our heads. Because freedom is, foremost of all, to be able to listen to your own opinion.