Have you ever lived or worked with an abuser? Do you have an abusive uncle who ruins Thanksgiving dinner every year or a regular customer who makes sure your life is a living hell?
One of the largest and most effective tools in every abuser’s tool box is: “See what you made me do?” It’s odd how they — the ones who must be in control because you are too emotional to manage things — can be reduced to senseless violence simply because you failed to comply with all of their (increasingly stringent & progressively unreasonable, not to mention meaningless) standards. Hence, your failure to hang his shirts in the closet, in order, by color, overwhelmed his normally Olympian self-control and somehow made him break your arm. Your failure to arrange the cans of food in the pantry in alphabetical order simply left him no choice but to throw everything on the floor, give you a black eye, and break the clock. See what you made him do? The fact that you dared to mention Colbert at the dinner table made him throw his wine glass and ruin your mother’s meal. It’s your fault. See what you made him do?
It’s odd that nothing he does ever “makes” you destroy things or injure him, but, well, there’s no time to think about that when you are frantically spending every minute attempting to live up to his ever-changing and increasingly-more-dramatic “standards,” in a desperate attempt to not “make” him hurt you, trash your home, ruin the holiday, get you fired.
I bring this up because we are being subjected recently to a barrage of “It’s your fault I voted for Trump because you called racism deplorable,” or similar nonsense. (Not going to link it; it’s all over Twitter and the web.)
Here’s what I finally told my abusive partner: I’m not responsible for your behavior, any more than you’re responsible for mine. We’re both adults. We both have agency. You choose to hit me because it gives you a feeling of control and I am choosing to leave you because I don’t want to be hit. I’m using my agency to walk away from you. Have a nice life.
Racists and sexists voted for Trump because he made them feel good; they loved his racism and sexism. They didn’t vote for Trump because Hillary had the nerve to tell the truth and say that “just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.” What she said didn’t make me revenge-vote for Trump, but then, I knew she wasn’t talking about me. If you thought that she was talking about you, well, you were already going to vote for Trump and don’t @ at me about how Hillary made you.
So, now, we’re not going to hang your shirts up by color in the closet and you’re not entitled to hit us if we misjudged which blue shirt you thought was darker than another. You won’t get invited back to Easter dinner next year if you made grandma cry by throwing a fit because your youngest nephew came out to the family as gay. You can take your business elsewhere if it infuriates you to hear the receptionist speaking Spanish to a Spanish-speaking customer.
We didn’t make you vote for Trump and we’re not going to stop calling racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, deplorable.
I’m not responsible for your behavior, any more than you’re responsible for mine. We’re both adults. We both have agency. I’m using mine to walk away from you and register as many college-educated women, African Americans, and reasonable people as I can. You go revenge vote against your own self-interest and then pout that I think you’re stupid.