My ex-wife sucked. She abused me in every way she could. We’ve established that.
Today, I was down at the Second Judicial District Court filing some petitions, and my Dad who is in town for a spell came down with me. While we sat and waited our turn, Dad got up to check the magazines on a table better suited the black plague-encrusted ICU of a very very very underfunded lesser European country populated primarily by hipsters and escaped lab rats… and it’s very difficult to discern which is which. The table was banged-up and icky, quite fittingly.
So Dad, who has both trouble hearing me – his hearing is going – and trouble hearing me – he can’t stand my endless prattling about topics such as the geologic beauty of the Rio Grande Rift Zone and how the basement rock is some 10,000 feet below us and we’re sitting on top of a ton of alluvium and because of the unique nature of the aquifer under Albuquerque… to… where was I? Oh, yes. Giving examples of topics that encouraged Dad to stand up to look for a magazine to pretend to read while sitting right next to me. Do I need another example? Of course! From [lots of information about] the Rio Grande Rift Zone to the best Mexican restaurants along the Rio Grande Rift Zone, which, for your edification, are this place in Taos I always forget about, Gabriel’s just north of Santa Fe, and El Sombrero (The Hat) in Socorro. And that’s it. All other Mexican food restaurants are generic and boring by comparison. You know, in Mexico they just call it “food.”
Away with Dad to collect a magazine, and my heart brimming with the happiness of a thousand white hot stars in full-on birthday boy, he came back empty-handed! He was excited to hear more of my endless prattling! Yay! Dad loves my banter!
Not so. He came back empty-handed and said to me:
Admittedly, Dad’s from a generation where you can make such gender-specific simplifications, although when I went to investigate I had to agree that magazines about how to land the perfect man for Valentine’s Day (with a woman on the cover) to women’s health (I think the magazine is actually titled “Women’s Health”) I made a similar assessment, only not so 1950s-ish. I said:
I didn’t actually say that. I said something minimal like, “Yep.”
While his observation is definitely 1950s-ish, that he made the assessment that “all the magazines are for women” and I recognized that the magazines are indeed those intended for a female audience speaks to one thing and one thing alone:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline has an excellent article with the simple title line reading:
Take into consideration that there wasn’t even a “gender-neutral” periodical like National Geographic or Barely Legal (joke, in very poor taste, only to accentuate… ah, heck, I don’t have to explain myself to you), and take into consideration that there was a play area for young children, and take into consideration Dad and I were two of the three men total in the waiting area (of 24 people), and I believe there is a gender-bias (strip away the connotation and follow along) that was more than evident. I believe that the waiting room was designed, decorated, and developed for women. I believe that while most waiting in the same waiting room were women and barely a noteworthy percentage were men, my real belief is there are many men who suffer in silence, who explain cuts on their forehead and bruises to their thighs as “I was working the table saw and forgot to tighten the blade so it jetted off the saw and thank the stars for my volleyball reflexes ‘cos it was coming straight at my eyes at 15 billion miles per hour so it only grazed me but it knocked over my very manly sledge hammer and bullet collection in the same a box right above me and that came down and wow those volleyball reflexes had me diving and it only bounced off my leg.”
We are culturally programmed as men to be manly, to be breadwinners, to be protectors, to be strong and reliable and resilient. So when we men are the victims of domestic violence, we’ve got to come up with a real great doozy of a story to explain away the wounds of the violence. Further, we men feel such shame and horror of being “beaten up by a woman” that since we already were burying our “failure” as deep as we could, we discovered with a bit of lump coal we could make that hole every cubic mile deeper into the shameful earth. And then fill it in with molten lead. And then build a whole major metropolitan city on top of the lead-filled hole. There. It’s hidden.
Men can be victims. Our waiting room reflected just that. There were a handful of us. I’ll lay even money that, like when I was married to the Queen of the Harpies, there are a bunch of guys at home watching reruns of Home Improvement as a primer to reestablish their worth, honor, and dignity… never considering the protections of the 2nd Judicial are there for women AND men.
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