In the past few months, debate surrounding the use of racial caricatures as pro sports mascots has reached a fever pitch. Just ask the Washington Redskins, who’ve endured significant backlash for both their refusal to change their name and their half-assed attempts to placate their critics.
But a few miles west, fans of the MLB’s Cleveland Indians are taking a stand. In a motion of solidarity, a small but growing number have been “de-Chiefing” their paraphernalia by removing the offensive “Chief Wahoo” mascot from caps and jerseys that bear its likeness.
But it doesn’t, and here’s why: Most of my clients are not usually repressed. In fact, many of them express their feelings more than some nonabusive men. Rather than trapping everything inside, they actually tend to do the opposite: They have an exaggerated idea of how important their feelings are, and they talk about their feelings—and act them out—all the time, until their partners and children are exhausted from hearing about it all. An abuser’s emotions are as likely to be too big as too small. They can fill up the whole house. When he feels bad, he thinks that life should stop for everyone else in the family until someone fixes his discomfort. His partner’s life crises, the children’s sicknesses, meals, birthdays—nothing else matters as much as his feelings.
It is not his feelings the abuser is too distant from; it is his partner’s feelings and his children’s feelings. Those are the emotions that he knows so little about and that he needs to ‘get in touch with.’ My job as an abuse counselor often involves steering the discussion away from how my clients feel and toward how they think (including their attitudes toward their partner’s feelings). My clients keep trying to drive the ball back into the court that is familiar and comfortable to them, where their inner world is the only thing that matters.
I’m sorry the fact that your best friend sexually assaulted me and that I’m speaking up about it inconveniences you.
(Let’s just post aggressive things on social media sites instead of talking to each other because we’re mature people.)
(I will talk eventually but I need to finish this silly little paper and get some sleep first so I don’t burst into tears)
We talked. She’s still “not taking sides” but it went ok. She’s a good person, and it’s a tough situation.