A head scratcher - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 05-24-2010, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been thinking all morning of how to phrase this...

I dated a foreign-born guy (highly educated, had been in the US for 6-7 years) for several months about 18 months ago. He was sweet at first, but then got verbally abusive - from putting down independent American woman (I was 40 and on my own for a long time), trashing activities I did (I do a lot of church stuf, - so did he! - and a lot of volunteering), and wondered - aloud - why the organization I'm president of chose me, since women have no business being in charge. His culture was very macho, women should be meek, submissive, opinions must agree with the guy's, expected to kowtow to his mama, who would come over from the home country to live with him. This was so not me, so I ended it nicely, citing extreme cultural differences.

Earlier this year, I ran in to him with new fiancee at several area-wide events. He turned out to know other friends of mine, so I got stuck sitting with him, fiancee, his sister, and mother (doesn't speak English) at several events. No place to move to. He treated fiancee badly, such as he had done to me. I later asked my friends if he treated her that way other times, and they said it was constant. Fiancee is American-born and from a different cultural background than the guy. I have other friends from his cultural background and they have confirmed this is standard male behavior.

This couple got married this past weekend. I hope it works out for them. I feel sorry for a woman who feels she must take a guy like that.

Anyway, the head scratcher bit - my friends who know this couple condone his behavior of her by saying, "That's how men in this culture act." Period. End of story. Sounds like my friends are giving him a pass. A big one.

I'm sorry - a guy doesn't get a pass on treating a woman like dirt just because he's from a certain culture. Boy, am I glad I didn't stay with him and put up with that behavior. I'd like to be married, but I'm not THAT desperate! I'm very glad I was aware of the issues and kept my eyes open.

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#2 of 8 Old 05-24-2010, 07:36 PM
 
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I get that other cultures treat there wives much differently than in the US, but I think it is sad all the same. Poor woman, but if she loves him and wants to be married to him than to each there own I guess.

Yes, glad you kept your eyes open. I would hate to be married to someone who treated me like dirt.

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#3 of 8 Old 05-24-2010, 08:21 PM
 
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I'm not big on cultural relativism of that sort. I wouldn't give him a pass.
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#4 of 8 Old 05-24-2010, 08:38 PM
 
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i cant believe that was 18months ago already! I remember when that relationship was just starting!

I am married to man from a very macho culture. i would not take that kind of treatment, and i would not give a man a pass because of that. he knew from the get go that i was not going to let him walk all over me and that if he wanted that kind of wife, i was not a good choice.

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#5 of 8 Old 05-24-2010, 09:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadiMamacita View Post
i cant believe that was 18months ago already! I remember when that relationship was just starting!

I am married to man from a very macho culture. i would not take that kind of treatment, and i would not give a man a pass because of that. he knew from the get go that i was not going to let him walk all over me and that if he wanted that kind of wife, i was not a good choice.
Yeah, started in Nov 2008 and I ended it in Feb 2009.

My friends who are condoning his treatment of her are American-born, not from the same cultural background, so they've got no reason to give him a pass. The hysterically ironic part of it - that kept me very amused at work all afternoon through a very hectic day - is that they're now apparently members of the church I left in early 2008, due to the priest treating me very disrespectfully publicly and due to the atmosphere of the parish as a whole. That's a parish where the role of women is restricted more than is usual in my denomination, due to the priest. Women don't teach the kids above the highest grammar school level, an older woman will very occasionally teach some for just women. You're supposed to get married young, churn out as many babies as possible even if you can't afford them, wives stay home and home school. Married women working is frowned up, although a cute little business from home is tolerated.

It's not bad if families decide to do this, but what's bad is the absolutely incredible pressure to conform, and if you don't, you're on the fringes. Infertile couples and singles can be very uncomfortable - I know others in each group who have left due to this pressure. When friends from old parish learned I was beginning to do some teaching at current parish (where I'm loved and wholeheartedly accepted), they got visibly very uncomfortable.

So, given the atmosphere, I'm saddened, but after thinking about it, not too terribly surprised that people I respected are condoning this guy's behavior.

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#6 of 8 Old 05-25-2010, 03:40 AM
 
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I married outside of my cultural background twice, both times to men of the same culture (the same subculture within a culture, even) as one another. I kind of feel like these experiences have taught me a little something about that kind of dismissing of behavior as cultural artifacts.


During the course of my first marriage there were a number of things that I thought I knew about The Way Marriage Works in my husbands' culture which my second marriage showed me more to be -- surprise, surprise -- individual personality and circumstances. You know ... just like real people. I say that jokingly, but it's also kind of serious ... "men behave badly because of their culture" edges over the line into a certain kind of ethnocentrism. "Oh, those men categorically behave badly ... not like us with all of our enlightened individuality ..."


It's certainly true that different cultures encourage different relationship models, and that some communities may give an easier pass on misogynistic behavior than others. But when a man is a jerk then he's a jerk, it's that simple. A man raised in the most male-dominated society in the world is still just as capable of not setting about to hurt, denigrate, humiliate, or minimize women as a man raised in a more gender-neutral setting. He is also just as capable as valuing the intelligence and thoughtfulness of the women in his life. And IME one can never walk into a male-centric culture with rigid gender roles and not still find huge numbers of men who would never dream of putting their partners down, trashing their interests, refusing to take their partners' thoughts and opinions seriously, etc. One might, for example, find that it's more difficult to find a man who wishes to marry someone who plans to maintain their career, but "I really prefer a wife who is home, and if you prefer to continue working this may be a serious stumbling block for us" is a whole different ballgame from "Why would they make you president? Women can't lead nuthin'." KWIM?
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#7 of 8 Old 05-25-2010, 08:42 AM
 
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I am guessing that since he is from a differernt culture, and your american born friends are having a hard time wrapping their heads around how someone could really treat women that way, This is their way of justifying her actually putting up with it.

Would I give him a pass? HELLS NO!
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#8 of 8 Old 05-25-2010, 01:23 PM
 
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Some guys are just UAVs, culture or no culture. I am as I don't know of a culture where the type of behaviour you described is the real norm, rather than the guy just being a UAV within the culture. Every culture - NA included - has its abusers and creeps, as well as its gentle, respectful and loving men. Of course, culture shifts the lens a bit...but I can't imagine to the extent that what you described is condoned as normal?
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