My male siblings think our mother was a “whore”


And it has ruined their ability to have healthy, loving relations with women

Few downplay any longer the emotional toll of divorce on children.  What fascinates me is how a common trauma can be processed so differently by each member of a family according to their character, age, outlook, relationships…I am not here to talk or explain about the havoc divorce wreaks on a child, but rather how the males in my family interpreted the people and the situation differently, and the impact it has had on our subsequent lives.  And I am making the conclusion that my parent’s divorce more than any other event in our lives shaped how each and every one of us has sought out sexual partners and how our relationships have played out.

On the “nice to nasty scale”, I would gauge that my parents’ breakup was somewhere in the middle—there were nasty bits and good bits.  On some level it helped that our parents didn’t live in the same city after, so there was no constant reminder of the broken family.  Instead. we had a single mom raising her children, trying her best to do right by them, to get us into good schools, to be successful in those schools, and generally being supportive.

I will leave our father out of this post as he does not seem germane to the theme expressed in the title.

As you might expect, money was tight, and we always did things to economise.  We lived in a nice neighbourhood, though, and went to good schools which weren’t cheap, so there is nothing to complain about.  But my mother was lonely, she was financially insecure, and as I have gotten to know her over the years, she had a significant and playful sexual appetite.  These conditions have created in me a sympathy for her, an understanding and love that has transcended the hurt that characterised our relationship.  My male siblings reacted very differently, and “mother as whore” is the all-too common patriarchal trope that has come to dominate their lives, and has ruined their ability to have respectful, warm, and loving relations with women in general.  It has also affected their abilities to just have normal, healthy relationships with women in a social or professional context as well.  How common is this?  Why? Why do so many males think that women’s virtue is something they are even allowed to judge? Is female power so intimidating that this is the wimpy man’s get-out clause?

Our mother dated actively as we were growing up.  I remember being resentful of these men.  I didn’t like them and didn’t like having them around.  One thing I resented was the level of intimacy with her because they were “adult” together.  I was like, “hey, she carried me inside of her,” but they just blasted right through that.  They would touch her, and they would confide in each other, and they would have conversations that excluded us children.  That was hard part for me.  Worse still was when the intimacy quickly gained between them made the man entitled to an apparent intimacy with me (not reciprocated), or worse, a feeling of authority over me (Lord no!  You?  Are you kidding me?!).  The attention she gave them was attention she wasn’t giving me.  Never mind that most of her attention to me was to fight with me.  I still needed it.  When she sided with them against me, or against any of us, oh boy!

We all knew that she was worried about money and supporting the family, she voiced those concerns to all of us.  I was way too inside the tent with her on these issues, quite a bit more than my brothers.  I don’t know why, but she shared things with me that she probably shouldn’t have, and that she didn’t share with my siblings.  My brothers were deeply traumatised by her sex life.  They hated it.  And I guess that no child wants to think of his or her parents as sexual beings.  In our household, it was very clear.

I remember one brother stage whispering to me one night and pointing to her door, “can you believe that?!” as we could hear her groans and moans of pleasure and the grunts of the man she was with.  And then he made a graphic re-enactment standing there and mimicking what he thought might be her body movements as she lay in bed with some new man, legs wrapped around him.  I said, “What?  You’ve never heard that before?”  And in truth I was surprised.  My room was next door to my mother’s room, and we even shared a common closet between our two rooms.  There were no secrets between those thin walls.  I could hear her often as I lay in bed at night.  I don’t really remember what I thought about it.  I do remember feeling uncomfortable, but that’s all.

One of my chores in the house was to empty the trash.  Once a week I would go around the house and empty everyone’s wastebaskets and then take everything out to the bins outside.  One day in my mother’s trash a number of cut up photo slides fell out.  They weren’t cut up well and being a curious child, I was wondering why someone would cut up slides let alone throw them out.  So, I looked to see what they were.  As it happened, they were extremely pornographic images of my mother.  In the world of sex magazines, of which I know very little (more on this some other time), they were firmly in the camp of Penthouse not Playboy.  They were explicit and shocking.

How did I process this?  I think I became scared of the vagina for many, many years, until over time I confessed my fears and some sweet girlfriends rescued me.  I also hated the man who took the pictures, and I knew who it was, because she was dating a photographer at the time.  And that makes me sad, as he was the one among her boyfriends that I actually liked.  I never told anyone though.  I shudder to think how my brothers would have handled it.

As it was, they were processing her sexual life with men as “loose” and that she was “behaving like a whore”. They judged her.  I heard what they said, but I processed what was going on differently.  I didn’t resent her.  I resented the men.  I resented a system and a world that would make a woman dependent on a man.  I hated man’s privilege and power.  I still can’t understand why I felt this way and my male siblings had the reaction that they did, which somehow seems more “normal”.

Over the years how we each processed our feelings about our mother’s sex life have played out more and more in our lives.  My brothers treat women badly.  They are serial womanizers.  Their relationships show a cavalier disregard for the women they are with, almost as if they are punishing them, or that they even hate them.  I am sometimes horrified by what they do, what they have done.  They struggle with commitment.  For one sibling, that has spilled over into his professional life, and he is unable to work effectively for women.  While they are both supposedly “woke” guys, their behaviour shows this deep-seated anger or hatred of women that seems to have born in this idea that their mother was a whore.

They blamed her for sleeping with these men, and it troubled them mightily.  But blamed her for what?  I didn’t like my mother’s boyfriends for what they represented to me, that they got between me and my mother.  But what I hated was not my mother or her behaviour, what I hated was a system that would put her in such a position.  What I hated was that my father was not forced to give a more appropriate share of his income to support her.  What I hated was a society that gave her so few choices that she felt she needed to find a man, or indeed had to find a partner so that she could afford to survive, that she had to think about how much money a partner had and not just whether he was nice to her or not.  

One of the most stinging things I can remember feeling from those years was when she told me that she had dumped this one long-term boyfriend of hers that I had ever liked (the photographer noted above).  He was a nice, sweet man, always generous and thoughtful.  I really liked him and imagined him as my stepfather.  She told me she dumped him because he was “weak”.  And that concept sent shockwaves through me.  It terrified me.  That someone who was loving and thoughtful would be cast aside because he was weak.  I really struggled with that because even then I knew that I was submissive.  I knew that my way of loving a woman triggered feelings of being submissive to them…and I linked that to weakness.  Most people do, right?  I have never really figured out how to reconcile these two issues, and it affects me to this day—I have never been able to successfully submit to a woman that I loved out of fear of how that might lead to rejection, which would crush me.

My SO tells me that one of the reasons she loves me so much is that I am so difficult, complicated, complex, and relentlessly challenging.  These are not the attributes of a weak man.  But I don’t submit to her.  I have also reached a point in the last year where I know that my SO will never leave me.  I used to worry as I guess anyone might, but I feel that our relationship has reached a point now where it is going to last…I am not saying for a moment that it isn’t major hard work, just that I finally no longer have any fear.  But part of this may also have to do with the safety valve that having a Domme provides.

My red lines with my Domme are all about weakness and the fear of rejection.  What we do together is framed by this issue.  I have made her promise over and over that the things we do together cannot cast me in her eyes in a weak light, that she will never leave me.  Isn’t that crazy?  But I can’t have it any other way.  It would be devastating for me to lose her respect, perhaps even more so than to lose it from my SO, where I would have some means of emotional self-protection.  With my Domme I have none of that.  I am totally and utterly naked.  Scary. 

But going back to how and why my male siblings process things differently.  One thing that I find really odd is that they were much closer to my mother moving into adulthood.  Even with their thinking the way it was, they saw much more of her, all the holidays, some of the vacations, spending summers with her and bringing the grandchildren.  I did this as infrequently as possible.  I avoided her.  Being around her was always very difficult for me, it was just too prickly for me.  Emotionally exhausting.

Its hard for me to connect the dots.  My male siblings had what appear to be healthier relationships with our mother, a great indicator of how they would treat women.  Isn’t that what they say?  Always look at how a man treats his mother, and you will know the man…What about me?  I just fought with her.

They had outwardly healthy relationships with her, but when it got down to it, they leave a path of destruction with every woman they get involved with.  And here I am, having had a broken relationship with my mother, one that provoked uncommon sadness in me, where she sexualised me and simultaneously despised me for my gender identity.  But somehow out of that process I had this huge hole of love and respect in my heart for women generally.  In my own relationships I have been intensely loyal, faithful, and respectful.  I attach deeply and quickly, respect my commitments, listen, try to be present, try to be and do what is expected of me.  Don’t mistake this for me saying I am so great.  I am not.  I am just as much a nightmare as anyone else, perhaps worse, but I try, and I don’t stop trying.

I didn’t cast my mother’s sex life as one of sin, I don’t hold her to some virtue standard that has coloured my tastes and values as it has for my siblings. If anything, I think it is great that she was at least free and liberated in this way, at least I think she was.  And I do that in spite of how she treated me over my own sexuality.  

And yet for all the pain that I had in my relationship with my mother growing up, I wouldn’t trade places with any of my siblings, male or female, as the pain I have in relation to my mother has kindled my desire and need for love.  And I will tell you something, feeling the need to love, giving love, and loving, are the most powerful feelings, and most powerfully fulfilling feelings that I know to exist.  My insides are like a china shop after the bull has passed through, all these broken pieces, and I know that they will never be put together again, but still, the warm embrace of a woman, her soothing smile, her companionship, most of all her friendship, that’s what I am here for, that is the purpose of my life. To be worth her affection, her positive regard, I can’t think of a higher calling.  In the end the things that have broken me emotionally, are also the things that make my life a pleasure to live.

One of my brother’s asked me in front of the rest of my family, noting that I along with only one of my sisters, has had only one long-term relationship, and that it has never faltered.  He wanted to understand why.  I answered, a bit on the spot.  

“We’re different,” I said.  “I’m not making a value judgement.  We all make our own decisions in life, all live the way we live.  But for me, I promised her.  When I married her I made a sacred vow.  And for me a sacred vow is sacred.  So when I hate her, or am so damned angry at her, I remember that, and I figure out what it is inside me that needs to be buried to make that anger go away, and to remember that my commitment says as much about me as it does about her.  And in the end, what I give to her, invest in her and in our relationship, I get back much greater,”  I ended up getting choked up as I said it, which was rather embarrassing for me, but if you don’t feel it to your core, it’ll never be true.

That is also a form of submission.  I don’t really understand much of any of this, but I suspect that part of the reason I cry when I am with my Domme is linked to this.

So, no my mother was not a “whore”, but you can see how destructive it is when it is seen as acceptable for a “woman’s virtue” be used to police her. Our society and our families deserve better.  It’s funny to me.  My greatest fear is to be rejected or let go by a woman I care about.  The thought of it is devastating.  My response to that fear is to make myself more vulnerable, to be more open, and more personally at risk with my SO (also with my Domme, but also with all women).  Is there self-harm in that?  I don’t know.  There is definitely more submission in it.  There is also a. heightened awareness for me of being relevant to the women in my life.  To being there.  To serving.  To meeting their needs.  To being someone, something of value.  The chances of being cast aside when offering value is diminished, I guess.   But there are no roadmaps.  The women. Don’t tell you, or spell it out.  You just have to be out there and hope for the best.

2 thoughts

  1. Pingback: Beyond Non-Binary
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