True story: a man is diagnosed with cancer just after separating from his wife. She’s been given the boot after a long marriage of what any sane person calls abuse. The law also calls it abuse, but curiously, refuses to apply the consequences to a woman. I’ve always known how badly the law is skewed against men, and how unwilling we are socially to accept the domestic abuse men suffer as abuse, but I had no idea how bad things really are on the ground.
In case you’re curious, here are some signs that you are in an abusive relationship:
You can’t do the things you want to do.
They blame you for their behavior.
Your unhappiness doesn’t matter, or they contribute to it.
Domestic abuse isn’t always violent, and we recognize that when it’s men abusing women. But because the abuse men experience from women doesn’t typically include violence (women tend to lose those battles), most abuse will be of the non-violent sort. If she isolates you from your friends and family, pretends to be sick or weak so you never ask her to behave better, refuses to work while spending way more money than you earn, diminishes you, puts you down, insults you, criticizes everything you do, prevents you from doing things you enjoy, lies to you, complains and whines and sucks the joy out of your life … that’s abuse. Not single events, obviously, but a continued pattern, over time.
Lots of emotional and financial abuse turns into to physical abuse. This applies to women abusers, too.
This particular woman has access to a handgun (incredibly difficult to do in Canada) and comes from a family history of violence. She regularly stalks and trespasses her husband’s property, steals his tools and equipment, steals his mail, steals whatever money she can get her hands on. Just your garden variety thief. If a man had abused his wife for decades, had a gun, was stealing her mail and showing up unannounced and rooting through her property, he would already have been arrested.
In our town, the police cautioned the wife, but won’t do anything until she actually shows up with a gun.
All of this is bad behavior, to be certain. A lot of it is criminal behavior. But is it evil?
I think evil is a word we throw around far too easily, when we often mean tragic, cruel, unkind or even just thoughtlessly stupid. I’ve been listening to Jordan Peterson’s discussion of Evil vs Tragedy, and he locates evil in a place where arrogance meets resentment, and I think he is on to something quite important. By Peterson’s definition, evil doesn’t require intention. If something ends up being evil, it is evil because the person carrying out the action is arrogant and resentful. It doesn’t matter whether they intend to be evil or not.
Evil is evil.
My mind went immediately to modern feminism. I would say that arrogant and resentful are pretty good descriptors for most modern feminists. If you go back and look at an older iteration of feminism, a lot of those women were angry. They were angry at economic realities like a living wage, which meant women were financially better off at home. They were angry at not being able to control the number of children they had, and how to space them. They were angry at being closed out of some opportunities, usually for good reason. And there is some of the modern arrogance that claims women are just better than men, but not nearly to the degree arrogance defines modern feminism.
The feminists of the 70s and 80s were angry, but resentment wasn’t a defining feature of the movement.
Men weren’t the enemy.
Jessica Valenti, Amanda Marcotte, Clementine Ford, all these now middle-aged feminists really kicked off feminism as resentful and bitterly jealous of men, masculinity and male accomplishments. Young feminists seem to feel and express nothing other than arrogance and resentment. If we use Peterson’s definition of evil as arising from arrogance (we’re better than men) and resentment (we bitterly hate men), feminism and feminists are evil.
But come on, that’s a bit much, isn’t it? Even I can see that. Feminism is awful and has had some evil consequences, to be certain, but simply being arrogant and resentful does not seem to be sufficient to qualify as truly evil.
Circling back to the man with cancer, his soon-to-be ex-wife’s actions don’t qualify as evil under Jordan’s definition, because they arise from a malicious character defect she has apparently had for a long time. My mother had the same sort of malice in her heart, so it comes as no surprise to me that women can be incredibly mean and awful to the people around them. Malicious people will lie and cheat and be very unkind, but if the malice doesn’t arise from a deep place of arrogance and resentment, then it’s just malice, and malice isn’t always evil, right?
I’m not sure.
I find it astonishing to even write this down, but I assure you that every word is true. The soon-to-be ex-wife has engaged in antics I really want to call evil. Contrary to popular belief, cancer care in Canada, with our socialized medical system, is not free. There are some significant out of pocket expenses. Because I live in the far northern reaches of a province, some cancers require travel down to the larger hospitals in the south for treatment. Those travel expenses are borne by the person with cancer. Air travel, hotel stays, food, transportation are all costs the patient has to cover. Some of it is reimbursed, but not all.
On the day that the man above was supposed to book travel for a spot on the cancer ward, his wife emptied out all the bank accounts, cancelled all the credit cards and shut down all access to lines of credit. So he couldn’t go. Obviously, it’s better for her if he just dies. The end result was that the man missed his opportunity to get the treatment he needed.
It gets better.
Another bed became available several weeks later and once again he needed to book travel, but his wife called all the hospitals and changed his contact information to her own number and then refused to pass on the messages that the cancer clinic was trying to reach him. He had no idea of this, of course, and the clinic tried for three days to get him.
The wife refused to give him a single message.
So he missed his spot again.
His malignancy, thanks to these two delays, has gone from 20% to 80%. Any man who did this to his wife would be sitting in jail. Can you even imagine such a thing? All that happened here was that the wife was once again cautioned by the police to please not cancel his cancer care appointments because that isn’t nice.
I don’t know if the wife’s actions arise from resentment or arrogance, but they are still evil, are they not? She is trying to kill her husband. She wants him to die. She is taking actions to help him die, against his will.
If this counts as evil, what then is missing from the definition? I have a hard time calling feminism evil, but no problem calling this one specific woman evil. It seems to me that intentions do matter. I think most feminists are misguided and not very smart, or not very good at thinking, to be more charitable. In order for feminism to work as a philosophy, you have to stop thinking, in some really important ways.
Pertinent to a previous discussion, consider this statement: men are violent. Or anything else you want – men are not good at multi-tasking, men are thoughtless, men care more about things than people, etc. etc. etc. What information does any of those statements give you about women?
It tells you absolutely nothing about women, yet all of feminist philosophy is grounded on the assumption that if men are x, women are not x. Men are violent, means that women are not. No need to empirically examine that claim, it’s self-evident. That’s sloppy, bad thinking and feminism requires it, in order for the whole philosophy to work.
So in that sense, feminists are much more bad thinkers than they are evil, even if the results of feminism are evil. But the ex-wife? What other outcome than the death of her husband can she intend? She is intentionally taking actions that only vaguely skirt being criminal, but that will result in a man’s death. How is that not evil?
Our next door neighbor is a nurse and when she heard this story, she said the same thing I said when I heard first it, “who does that”?
Scorned gypsies, it would seem.
Lots of love,