Little men, how the oppression of women can destroy a man.

Little men, how the oppression of women can destroy a man.
Paul Fischer
Anth 342

Relationships can be trying and difficult, both at first and after a long time. A six year old boy listening to his parents escalating fight attests to this. As he sits in the driveway in the scorching summer heat salting slugs, the father figure, unemployed, far from home and far overqualified for the odd jobs he finds takes out his frustration on his wife, who struggles to raise children (three including the father) and finish her Medical degree. What little understanding the boy has of the reasons and motives for argument, he is left with an image imprinted in his brain forever.

His parents are silhouetted against the hallway light, father’s hands tightly gripping his mother’s neck. They are fighting each other, the words “daddy, daddy dont kill mommy!” seem to come from someone else’s mouth, but the disgusted father flings the mother at the boy, both of whom in tears. Hours later again in the ER. Months later still trying to work things out. Not until years later, after psychological and physical torture, did the boy, his mom, and his one-year old brother desperately flee that abusive father. The mom claims that what finally ended the delusion of working out the relationship was when the father turned to her and said, entirely sober and serious, “I could really kill you, like if I ever want to.”
For most individuals, when they are put in a situation where they have to make a decision, such as a life or death decision, the blood stream is shunted off to the frontal right cortex. This part of the brain is primarily used in executive function, and encourages cool, calm, collected behavior even in extremely dangerous situations. This is a relatively ineffective biological method of stopping certain feedback loops that, when perpetuated, can lead to homicide. Alternatively, the blood is sometimes diverted to different parts of the brain. In this case, the individual becomes extremely aggressive. Every word or action becomes hostile to them, and provokes uncontrollable responses.
The problem here however was not biological, but social. As will be explained later, the German father had radically different marital norms to the mother, who grew up in Indiana. The stratification that occurred through their relationship was intensified by a sense of futility and poverty. They met in Montreal at a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young concert in the mid-80’s, and quickly fell in love and got married in 1989. Soon after the mother realized that certain parts of being a German “haus-frau” were actually quite barbaric. After asking a psychologist in Nuremberg about what options she had, having just given birth to a child who was beaten in the womb, she was informed that the situation was normal, that she should go home to cook and clean. Her parents were somewhat more sympathetic, but essentially gave the same advice. Instead she decided to finish medical school, and her husband and child came with her.
The misery of those next years are not entirely describable. The enormous stress on a medical student raising a child combined with the frustration of having a fully qualified German CPA and attorney-at-law created a situation in which higher executive function did not come into play. Instead, even minor incidents flared up into fights, with both mother and father unable to control their emotions, verbally and physically abusing each other as, near-by, their child committed genocide against the slug populations of their constantly changing apartments.
For someone the age of that child, not many remember what they were doing when Bill Clinton was caught with the post-girl, but that boy listened to his sobbing mother, little brother, and the AM radio for most of the twelve hour car trip. Somehow, it seemed fitting when his mother explained that father is a criminal, the president of the United States was also in trouble. He did not really understand. He knew they hurt each other. He thought they loved each other as well.
A decade later, he went to Germany and stayed with his Uncle, in order to meet this “lost” family of his. What he found in his father was somewhat shocking. The man was broken, a victim of his own mode of oppression. His entire life had become so caught up with one woman, perhaps it was love in a sort of way, that he had completely self-destructed. Ten years later, he still conducts his law office in cash and works the bare minimum to survive in order to keep childcare payments from her. He claimed to have forgotten her, but obviously had fed feedback loops and perpetuated a cycle that is today as pathetic as it was once vicious.
The ability of the state to impose some limits on these feedback loops, by making murder or rape illegal, for example, is significant. This story shows that it is not enough. That even two highly educated, loving individuals can fight like barbarians when both society and state fails to establish some level of mandatory mutual respect. Usually, it might be said that men oppress, and therefore damage women. What this makes clear, however, is that the damage to men is equally as great, and the establishment and maintenance of social norms to respectful levels is vitally important to both sexes.

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