Don Pridemore, Wisconsin right-wing anti-woman Republican senator, would have loved my grandfather.
My good Christian grandfather was abusive to his wife. When my dad and his brother were old enough, they finally took their father out to the barn and told him that if he ever laid a hand on their mother again, they would essentially break every bone in his body. So he stopped hitting her.
But he continued to be abusive in other ways. He was sex-obsessed, and kept after my grandmother for pretty much their entire sixty-six years of marriage–even when he couldn’t really perform any more, and she was in pain, enduring his efforts, sometimes for hours. Her pain didn’t matter. What mattered was that he was Getting Some, no matter what she endured till he did. That was his right. She told this to my mom, crying. She was the sweetest, kindest woman who ever existed.
And she–dear, obedient, submissive Mennonite Christian woman that she was–felt it was her duty to put up with it, no matter what she suffered from her husband.
The man was also abusive to my mother. When my dad went off the deep end in my late teens, squandering all his paychecks on alcohol and women as he had his midlife crisis, my mom did everything she could think of to try to become more attractive to him. This included breast reduction surgery, and other pretty humiliating things. And I’m sure this was the source of her incessant dieting as well. But eventually, fearing what sorts of diseases dad might inflict on her from his associations, and to protect us kids and keep hearth and home together, my mom took us and moved out.
A legal separation was arranged. But even after the separation settlement, my dad slept in his car, in winter, to avoid child care payments. He got bronchitis so bad that he could barely speak, in cold weather. But to him, it was worth it.
Meanwhile, my grandfather’s response to my dad’s catting around? First, that my mom should have stuck by my dad no matter what he did (no matter what the creditors might eventually have seized, no matter how we might have starved, and no matter what diseases she might have caught). And second, that it was really all her fault, because if she’d been better in bed, dad wouldn’t have been forced to have sex with other women.
Oh, I hated that man with a pure and deep hate. My first thought, when my grandmother died after sixty-six years of being shacked to him was, “Thank goodness, she’s finally free of him!” Honestly, that thought came unbidden, without any plan, carried on a wave of deep relief. Seven years later, when my grandfather died, I dressed up for his funeral. I wore the colours of the Goddess (an interest of mine at the time): a blood-red skirt with a slit up the back, a white blouse, and black accessories. I listened to all the sombre Mennonite men intoning what a good Christian man he was, and thought, “If there’s a hell, he will be there. I wish I could watch.”
If I could have danced on his grave, I would have. But his funeral was a day of rejoicing, let me tell you.
But Wisconsin right-wing Republican Representative Don Pridemore would have loved my grandfather, obviously. Because he thinks that no matter how bad and abusive things get, a battered woman should stay with her husband. Because no matter what happens to that poor woman, it will somehow be child abuse if she protects herself. (Wisconsin Lawmaker Says Women Should Stay in Abusive Marriages.)
Funny, Ron. My grandmother stayed with her abusive husband, and look what kind of child they ended up with. In the meantime, my mom left hers, and she raised three pretty upstanding, responsible kids, if you ask me.
I want to dance on Ron Pridemore’s grave too. And if there’s a hell, I want to watch him pay for this abuse he wants to legislate against the women he hates.