Yes, I know it’s been a while, and I also know I’m a little premature for the ” ’tis the season to be thankful” that inundates the blog world come November. But bear with me here.
As I was lying in bed today, exhausted despite having done absolutely nothing, battling suicidal and otherwise negative thoughts, it occurred to me how thankful I am that we have an intersection of two things in place that allow me to sit in bed all day: the modern mental health movement that has battled stigma and promoted awareness of mental health concerns, and the modern feminist and anti-domestic violence movements. Because, friends, about 60 years ago, nobody would have said to me “I”m so sorry you were feeling suicidal and depressed; are you ok? Is there anything I can do?” 60 years ago my husband (because I couldn’t be engaged to a woman, let alone a black woman) would have called me lazy and beat me or at the very least smacked me around a little bit until I got up and did housework.
Those images from vintage magazines that tend to surface around Facebook – the ones with articles containing quips from various men and titles like “Is it appropriate to spank your wife?” absolutely horrify me. Being mildly paranoid, I tend to assume people post these articles on my wall to torment me because that is pretty much my greatest fear. More realistically, however, they’re probably just doing it because “oh gee isn’t it funny that people used to treat women this way?”
It’s actually not that funny. Especially not when I would have been the type of woman who was getting that treatment, because nobody would have understood what I was going through and assumed the worst of me. Especially not when I know of a woman in my family who was treated that way, simply because that was the mindset back then. The guy that was hitting her wasn’t the stereotypical domestic abuse monster that we would paint him as today. He simply said, “She needed to be smacked around a bit to get motivated; all women do.” Kind of like that quote from Sean Connery in Playboy that everyone always references. And the further you go back, the worse it gets. 100 years ago, I would be lucky to get the shit kicked out of me for being “lazy” around the house. The other alternative would have been an asylum or sanitarium, where you were given solitary confinement and beaten by strangers instead of your loved ones.
Maybe it’s a bit of a morbid mindset to automatically go to something so dark, but there it is. I’m lucky and blessed to live in a society and with a woman who permits self-care instead of encourages domestic violence and promotes the understanding of mental health. I dodged a bullet there.