…doesn’t make him a good person.
Of course, this phenomenon isn’t limited to men – or well, not just to men as partners. Any time you have people in positions of power over others, you see that power being abused; that’s how we get cruel bosses and police and government officials and directors and judges and teachers. That’s why laws against abuse and discrimination exist.
Research, however, has shown a recurring trend: most abusers are men, and most of the abused are women. In the event when abusers are women, they are more likely to abuse other women than men. Most victims were described as “compassionate and kind,” “cooperative,” and “agreeable” – traits considered as feminine. And that’s not even going into the racial aspects.
So why are most abusers “masculine” and most of the abused “feminine”? The short answer: patriarchy, in which men and masculine traits are upheld as superior to women and feminine traits.
And what happens when the things you like, the way you talk, the ideas you present, the life you live is considered as “inferior”? When someone likes you as a person, they do not believe that it is because of the qualities that define “your kind”, but despite them. And so they will jump through mental hoops trying to ascribe “superior” qualities to you, as they go all their life being told that they and their way of thinking is the only correct one.
What does that mean for you though? In their eyes, you are basically separate from others of “your kind”; to them, you are not a woman, but a “better woman” or “one of the guys”. And so you have been elevated to the status of being treated as “worthy”.
For all intents and purposes, it appears as if they see you as their equal. But the ground you stand on is shaky, as your worth only comes from removing you from the experiences you gained as part of your identity – the experiences you gained as a woman.
They don’t want to hear about how much fun you had shopping, or what happened in that romcom, or how much your period sucks, or the time you got assaulted. Because those are distinctly “feminine” events, which clashes with their image of you – remember, you’re not a woman, but a pseudo-woman, as they have stripped you of your womanhood in order to “make you a better person” in their eyes.
Your worth is not measured by your own actions and behaviour, but on the importance they hold to him. There will come a time when you stop being worthy, and suddenly all of your qualities that he liked before will become the very reasons for his hate.
You don’t “take care of yourself”, you’re “vain” and “self-absorbed”; you’re not “opinionated”, you’re “loud” and “harping”; you aren’t “friendly”, you’re “a flirt”; all your abilities will now be presented back to you in as negative and, if you’ll notice, as gendered a way as possible.
Congratulations! You’re once again a woman, and thus, once again, worthy of his sexist beliefs.
A good person wouldn’t be kind only when it benefits them.