Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Emotional Abuse (Or Not)

People who know me will be aware of the fact that I am in a long-term stable relationship.
I hope it goes without saying, but it may not so here I am saying it anyway, that I am talking about my own situation here and nobody else's, and I cannot transfer my own views over to someone else's situation.  This is just about Sarada and me.

Here is a report from the Scottish Transgender Alliance ( on trans experiences of domestic abuse:
Some of the behaviour described as emotionally abusive is very familiar to me.  Two in particular, namely refusal to use my pronouns of choice or my current name, are things that Sarada does.  Whereas I'd be lying if I said I was OK with it, I don't think it's OK to call this emotional abuse, for several reasons which doubtless reveal my false consciousness.  You know, that same false consciousness that I might be accused of having by being a rapist, AKA gender dysphoric male-assigned person, by certain people.  So you may want to skip over the rest but in doing so you might want to consider that I spent a lot of time skipping over what I considered to be inevitably junk science about androgen receptors and brain anatomy and physiology, and that you might be doing it in the same spirit.  I don't know, maybe you've been through this and come out the other side.

So she deliberately misgenders me and refuses to call me by my real name, and yes I do find this extremely distressing and yes, it has a massive impact on my self-esteem, confidence and self-acceptance, and yes she knows all this.  That's all entirely clear.  Along comes the label of emotional abuse.  Right, so we can call it that and follow a prescribed course of action which is simplistic and knee-jerky (don't get me started on deep tendon reflexes).  OK, so what about all those other bad bits of behaviour which occur in relationships which don't have labels?  They don't count as emotional abuse so they don't have a prescribed course of action.  However, in my faith of choice the text in John 8:7 comes to mind - for those of you without an imaginary friend, feel free just to take the point that none of us are perfect and that relationships are not perfect and accept the New Testament as a piece of Hellenistic literature.

There was of course a time when I was lonely and looking for love.  I found it and heaven knew I was miserable then, to the extent that I eventually concluded that there were two types of misery in the world, the misery of single life and the misery of sexual relationships.  Being single has the advantage that you are not making someone else who cares about you a lot miserable.  This is an exaggeration of course, although at the time that was exactly how I saw things.  I have since moderated my opinions somewhat.  Even so, I still maintain that a certain moiety of misery must enter all committed sexualoid relationships, and in fact all relationships.  In my case, this misery includes the above, labelled as emotional abuse by these folk in Scotland.

What would you do then?  Hold out for a perfect relationship which will never happen and cannot exist?  Why even bother to call this emotional abuse?  If this wasn't happening, something else would be and doubtless something else is, and in all likelihood it's me doing it and being in denial about it.

I should also put this in a bit of context.  Famously, this relationship is a marriage even though I don't agree with marriage (although I do believe in commitment), and a marriage which has lasted twenty-one years and produced two grown up children, and a lot of happiness.  Many people might ask, why is this a marriage?  Why the heck am I married when I don't agree with it and it goes against the very fibre of my being?  Well, the answer is for similar reasons as my failure to do anything about the GID.

I was of course against marriage from adolescence onward for several reasons although nowadays I wouldn't seek to impose that on anyone else.  The reasons are that it is an intrusion of the state and organised religion into intimacy between two people when there seems to be no reason for that to happen, and that the very basis of marriage, historically speaking, is filthy and appalling, to do with legitimising rape and gender-based division of labour, and making women men's property.  It completely escapes me why someone would approve of it, and even if they would in an ideal world it seems like very bad taste to me to seek to engage in an institution with such a revolting history.  It amounts to giving the finger to one's ancestors, one's peers and kin.

Nonetheless I am married, and I believe in this marriage, sullied though it is by the fact that it is a marriage.  The reason I'm married is, all the above notwithstanding, it was a woman who asked me to marry her at a time when I had been browbeaten into believing that I was male and therefore inferior and unable to think properly.  In my view at the time, a male-assigned person was essentially and irretrievably incapable of intelligent cognition, so in spite of all those beliefs, and no matter what the reasons for believing those, it was automatically trumped by the workings of a woman's mind, because women were of course men's intellectual superiors.

I was then confronted by cognitive dissonance.  I was, as I saw it at the time, a married "man" who was completely against marriage.  I resolved that dissonance by compensating mentally for it thus:  a married man is his wife's property.  She has the power of life and death over him.  He has no rights.  No matter what his interests are, they are subservient to her will in all circumstances.  This would mean, for example, that if a man has an operable tumour which is otherwise fatal and his wife doesn't want him to have anything done about it, it is his duty to leave it alone and die of cancer.  I had to adopt this extreme position in order to deal with the guilt and shame of being married.

This means, of course, that "my" reproductive system is not my property but my wife's.  She can do what she wants with it.  It's not mine at all.  It just happens to be situated on this body.  The fact that it makes me miserable is irrelevant because it's not my place to interfere with it.  I gave up that right when I was married.

So this relationship is not abusive, and in fact it cannot be abusive.  I could theoretically be emotionally abusive to my wife but there is no way she could be abusive to me.  It doesn't matter how distressing I find her behaviour.  All of that became irrelevant the day I committed the shameful, disgusting act of getting married because that is the only way I can deal emotionally with the fact that I have committed this abomination upon her.

So don't call her abusive.  It's impossible for her to be abusive to me because any abuse is dwarfed by the appalling act of me marrying her.