One of the most insidious ways patriarchy damages us is by damaging our mothers, by abusing and mistreating them and teaching them lies about what women are for and what they are worth and then demanding, expecting that they pass that damage, that knowledge on to us.

I had two mothers and my relationship with both of them was completely toxic, poisoned all the way through by what the patriarchy had done to them and then what they did to me. None of these relationships can be rebuilt, there is too much damage and pain there. One of my mothers is dead now and one of them chose to side with patriarchal belief’s and structures rather than have a relationship with me.

I know a lot of women who’s mothers were abusive, and how do we learn feminism, how do we learn to love women when our female caregivers have hurt us so badly? How do we learn to have compassion for women in the same positions our mothers were? How do we aknowlege and label the hand patriarchy has in damaging mother/daughter relationships without suggesting that our mothers had no responsiblity for what they did to us and without minimising our pain?

We live in a society that blames mothers for everything that goes wrong despite the fact that statistically it is fathers/male care givers who are much more often physically and sexually abusive and financially, emotionally and physically absent so sometimes being angry at our own mothers seems like a betrayal of feminism, a betrayal of the world we are trying to build.

One of the things we need to do is look at anger through a feminist lens rather than believing all the things patriarchal society tells us about anger, we learn that anger has to be violent, abusive, has to be about taking someones power from them, we learn that we cannot love someone if we are angry with them, we learn that anger can not be congruent with compassion for those we are angry with.

I am not suggesting we ever have to be okay with the damage our mothers did us, or that we have to have a relationship with them if that is bad for us, our sense of self, our boundaries, but we can learn compassion for our mothers and female caregivers who hurt us at the same time as being angry with them, we can use the anger we have for them as a force to heal the damage they did to us, as a force to learn how to have happy healthy non toxic relationships with the women in our lives, to learn how not to perpetuate the cycle of women damaging each other,

Serendipidously as I was thinking about my mothers and thinking about writing this post I stumbed acros a post by radfemcrafts and I think she puts it perfectly when she says

I want better for me and the only way to get better for me is to get better for them. That’s what it means to take the pro-woman line. If I can’t understand their internalized hatred of themselves for being women in the patriarchy, how will I ever understand what was done to me? How will I ever understand the enormity of their own hurt that they tried to unburden onto me? And how will I ever understand that trying to unshoulder the pain onto other girls and women like they did doesn’t work? Only radical feminism unlocks these thoughts and lets them see sunshine.

2 Responses to “Mother daughter damage”

  • Andygrrrl says:

    I’ve been struggling with these questions a lot (obviously). I read that post and when she talks about being her abuser’s counselor, yeah, i totally did that too, and I sometimes have a hard time knowing when I’m trying to intellectually understand why my mother is the way she is and when I’m taking on that counselor/excuser role again. The fact is my mother is horribly damaged and twisted by the patriarchy, and part of me pities/despises her; but also her mother failed me, my grandmother let it all happen to mom, my aunts failed me because they knew exactly what my mother was and looked the other way, and on back through the generations. And that’s a huge, incomprehensible grief. That’s why I have to cut off from all of them, not just my mother.

    • cartographer says:

      And that’s a huge, incomprehensible grief.

      I think this is something I’m really trying to get my head round at the moment plus the whole class thing that both my mothers were completely insane but one of them “got away with it” because of her middle classness. I think I’m trying to get to a point where I can hold my intellectual knowledge of what was done to them and my rage at what they did to me at the same time. Like yes, we should have a political understanding of the situation but part of that political understanding is that we as women/girls are/were worth defending,protecting, nurturing and healing and that it wasn’t okay for anyone to hurt us regardless of how they were hurt or influenced

      this is an ongoing thought process, I will probably write more posts about it.

Leave a Reply