The "fire storm" brings up a related issue for me and most mothers like me caught up in the mailstrom that results when our own child reports being molested. (never mind the legal definition of molest or the neighbors or the families "definition" of our child's pain filled experience)
What mother and wives run into is the buzz saw of who and how they
choose to define Mother. As in She was right there, how could she NOT know etc etc ad nauseum.) and then the judging and the self judging until we find a place like Not the Life where we must come to our own conclusions about what it means to be a mother to a molested child and/wife (or grand,mother mother related to the molester) Religious, or legal or social Definitions don't suffice.
Lately there seems to be a lot of discussion about whether to believe children who report sexual abuse or wait, redefine, allow an uncertain justice and expensive lawyers to define just "what happened." Mothers wonder which words to use to characterize those accused (we also have to come to terms with who we are or thought we were before the knock on the door.) thus what to term the "crime" if they committed it, and if it is proven and.. Anyway, what words, by whose definitions DO we explain "it" to the neighbors, to our other kids, never mind what words do we find to explain "this" betrayal to ourselves? Do we even define "it" as a betrayal of ourselves?)
This question of definition and condemnation is what we all deal with as Wives and Mothers and Victims commenting on Not the Life I Chose. How we chose to define this problem largely decides what we do about solving our future. What words do we use? Of course we probably would not marry a known convicted sexual predator but if we our husband was accused and we were already married couldn't the crime be other-wise defined? Couldn't we just rely on the religious definition of Good wife? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We dread labeling and perhaps condemning ourselves even in our own minds no matter the definition we "choose" others will certainly define us as failures and condemn us. By definition, no mother allows this to "happen" to a child she is sworn to protect. No omniscient loving mother could NOT know. Could she?
We tell ourselves that we are the Not-criminals but we're getting treated like criminals. Such crimes (and such re-definition) is not only confined to our own neighborhoods, not only to our own betrayed and misunderstood and grieving families. Some of us just choose to deny and smile right along with our "I'm innocent" husband. W hat ever you decide about Bill, Camille Cosby has a wonderful smile and she has been smiling for Bill for going on 50 years.
As I began to edit the manuscript of my own "incest" memoir questions about language arose. I also asked myself over and over "Why didn't I just know?" After all I grew up in an incest family. Yet, I chose to marry a man strangely like my own Father who incested my children. (did you know that there is no such blunt word as incested? Nor does the word "incester" exist to cleanly describe a father who incests his small son or daughter? I know, even incests does not exist, you must go around the bush and refer to someone who "commits incest.")
And notice sexual language becomes murkier (and more impersonal / third person ) yet when you enter into the realms of religion and law and Polite Society. The language of Stranger Danger intrudes: Pedophile priest, Pedophile Coach or Scout master...but is a father or grandfather who has long preferred sex with his own underage family also a Pedophile or a serial/ generational incester? If a Child Pornographer only sells imaged of sex trafficked children to middle class surfers, does that mean that Daddy's who surf are only exercising their right to Free Speech?
Yet I followed scrupulously followed directions in the same religious script laid down by church and society and by my mother and grandmother. How could I not have just known? Trained in dependency I happily put my trust in my husband. I would have said our marriage was "Happy." Given the words I knew how could I have even imagined a Disney movie like Frozen in which my Prince Charming was actually the bad guy. My script said Cinderella married her hero husband and they "Rode off into the Sunset" They "Lived Happily Ever After." He was Prince Charming after all.
Writing my memoir, made me examine the language I was taught by religion and society and by the women and men in my family. I realized the denial of descriptors and action words and the alternate selection of "appropriate" words-to-describe or even characterize what my father did to me and what my husband did to my children made the pain vague and never-specific and above all my fault. How could I have reported virtually, nothing in forbidden "words " I did not know? Children are taught NOT to say "No" to adults. The words we were taught allowed/ protected/ covered up /silenced even the knowledge of incest and sexual abuse rampant in my family (and in society) My father told me he was "Giving me a good spanking " when he took me into the bedroom and molested and hit. What was there to report? That my father spanked me because I had been naughty? It was a spare the rod spoil the child world and the words came straight from the Bible. "God says..."
Our words demonize "them" too, as Stranger Danger (never as Fathers) they are blood thirsty Strangers Serial killers who could not be the upstanding husbands and fathers who only touched us down there while we slept or brought us up in the way we should go with an occasional "good spanking" "They" are Not defined as fathers Surfing the internet who only watched pornography (or took trophy pictures of us) since pornography also is widely defined as a victim-less video crime (much as our permitted words would have us believe that whatever our fathers "may have done" in the night was also victim-less because we had no words to describe our victimization and thus we should erase ourselves and our inexplicable pain. ) "Don't think about "it." "Forget and forgive." "Be quiet, you will only embarrass yourself." So, you got-yourself-pregnant?" By our words or absence of words we participate in Un-defining even ourselves. Thus we also Un-define our children as having human rights as human beings worthy of the protections owed all this world's children.
It gets so confusing. No wonder our heads swim. But the Re-definition goes on. For example Jonathan Turley ( jonathanturley ) in his blog about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein (Billionaire Banker, procurer and videographer of underage girls performing sexual acts with the world's rich and famous, Turley (read the entire post at jonathanturley ) indicates that:
"Shortly after his release from prison, he (Epstein) was quoted as denying that he is a real criminal and said “I’m not a sexual predator, I’m an ‘offender’. It’s the difference between a murderer and a person who steals a bagel.”). Apparently, by Epstien's definition, a rose by any other name is simly a bagel thief?
In religious circles and nice neighborhoods, sexual predators are defined only as "Stranger Danger." Nice Girls living at home are at least technically safe, Virginal in mind and body (or at least by reputation) Nice Girls do not know nor do they speak aloud "dirty" words for sexual activities whic do not actually occur down there. Only Bad little Girls even imagine there might be something going on down there or posses/speak aloud descriptive words to complain (in this society all descriptive words are considered dirty: cunt, butt-f**, suck, blow, any service the famous F-word in any of it's manifestations might describe are proof-positive the Nice Girl is gone Bad.) Such f-words constitute all the descriptions any resident Bagel Thief might use to tell us exactly how to service them after mom leaves for church)
The very fact that we "imagined" Bagel Thief words only proved (according to the Bagel Thief himself that we were Bad boys and girls fantasizing rape to seduce even our own upstanding father or coach or grandfather or.... Such a Bad Girl (or Boy) might certainly be dismissed as confused or crazy. Bad girls are subject to slut-shaming by good girls and silenced by their worried mothers. We were supposed just say No, just to point to down there. And if the incest report were believed WE were the children removed from our own home just as the bagel Thief had often warned would happen to us if were were bad and "told on" our father... (Removal was Proof Enough that We were the Bad little Seeds, the rebellious ones who "got ourselves" pregnant, the liars, the crazy ones.) and therefore should never be believed or taken seriously. (even though the bagel Thief had told us that if we told he would kill our younger brother)
Then their are the Mothers (like my mother, like me ) who taught me and taught our own children that the Bagel Thief's were indeed right. Mothers like my mother and mothers like me who shush up our own little boys and girls.. Mothers who teach Bagel thief words to the next generation. Mothers who warn over and over, "Now! Be Nice.) We are the people who marry the Bagel Thief's who mother them and believe them and pass on the virus embedded in language, We are charmed, or engulfed or afraid...like we were in childhood. When Real Language demands we call a Rose a Rose and a spade a spade we go along with the rest of Nice Society and agree to redefine offenders and take pity upon the poor Bagel Thiefs We forget and forgive and vague out language Before we decide whether to stay or to go. Before we decide whether to believe the Bagel Thief or the child, Whether to "mother" our resident sex offender. or chose to put ourselves and our child first.
In my own experience, Bagel Thieves manage pretty well and if we fail to define ourselves as the sort of loving wife who steps up and put her husband first, there is always someone else waiting to define them as "innocent" and us as the ex-, the bad mother we ourselves often fear we were. You know the mother who believed her child's story instead of redefining "it" as just inappropriate... well, maybe there was some inappropriate touching but surely there must have been some misunderstanding of the definition of whatever...