Attitudes to emotional abuse by women

06/01/2012 22:09

The other day I heard a short programme on BBC Radio 4 called 'The Paper Round'.  Melanie Walters reminisced about the paper round she did as a child - here is a snippet from the programme -

This house, the white detached house, was my piano teacher's house. So Mrs George was the piano teacher and her husband never said a word. He looked a little bit like Arthur Lowe and he'd open the door, show you to the piano room, shut the door and then she would give him what for! 'Why did you answer the door? Get in that kitchen and sit down'.  Then she came into the room all sweetness and light and we'd start the scales. And I used to imagine him in the kitchen like Mr Pugh, you know, from Under Milkwood saying 'Here's your arsenic dear and your weed killer biscuit. Ah yes, I'll throttle the paraqueet and spat in the vases!'  Perhaps he was happy, who knows?

It's told as an amusing little anecdote but I find it quite chilling that a man's apparent misery can be thought of as amusing.  The simplest way to check is to switch genders in the story and see how we feel about it -

This house, the white detached house, was my piano teacher's house. So Mr George was the piano teacher and his wife never said a word. She looked a little bit like Mrs Lowe and she'd open the door, show you to the piano room, shut the door and then he would give her what for! 'Why did you answer the door? Get in that kitchen and sit down'. Then he came into the room all sweetness and light and we'd start the scales. And I used to imagine her in the kitchen like Mrs Pugh, you know, from Under Milkwood saying 'Here's your arsenic dear and your weed killer biscuit. Ah yes, I'll throttle the paraqueet and spat in the vases!' Perhaps she was happy, who knows?

With the genders reversed I think it's safe to assume that the recipient of the emotional abuse wasn't happy and the anecdote isn't amusing, but is in fact sad.  Emotional abuse is never funny.

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