I started researching domestic violence in the middle of the year 2016, by year end I had enough knowledge to spot surface patterns of an abuser, a pattern that Trump fitted. It took me several more years to investigate different angles to this.
After seeing video evidence of his contradictions at various rallies, I knew he was not to be trusted. Each time anyone praised or showered him with adoration during the last 4 years, I felt both resignation as well as exasperation, sometimes I felt as trapped and anxious as my 14 year old forever changed post abuse self.
I'm reminded how many people will side with an influential liar in a position of authority against an honest powerless victim. I'm reminded how finances is often seen as the best insulation, that people are willing to throw away their ethics for a coin.
I hear it for every social issue I support, that people aren't activists because they aren't rich enough YET.
The same people who believe in meritocracy also judge public facing activists from the sidelines, with the assumptions that we're already rich, have massive safety nets and a large amount of empathetic loving people to fall back on.
When most of us are normal everyday working class civilians who struggle to find empathetic people, do not have the safety nets YET, labouring hard for a better future, we do it because we know social justice cannot wait!
They all think it will solve all their own personal problems, like as if their trauma will magically disappear when cash appears in their bank accounts, which is why the heroism of survivors is often unseen, mine and others.
Not many get how much effort it requires, how large the costs are, for suffering to be quantified in cold hard monetary terms is degrading to a person in and of itself.
It cheapens the oppression of women, it monopolises our suffering, it colonises it.
They believed that it will solve everything, from the mouths of people ranging anywhere from having lousy judgement to idealistic gullibility to extreme self denial, money always speak louder for some and justice is always second for the same people as well.
People wonder why people, especially women, are sympathetic towards Melania, we saw photos and videos of her rejecting his PDA multiple times, her trying desperately to play her public role well, how her body language betrays her and made her relatable at the same time.
It's an understandable response on our part; there's something enjoyable about watching a man who thinks he can grab women's genitals with impunity being rejected by his wife. And for those of us who find it hard to fathom how any woman could stand to be in the same room as Trump—let alone his bed—it's satisfying to believe that Melania might hate him just as much as we do.
Her cold distant demeanour around him, how they stand far apart, the dutiful forced smile, the outward Stepford wife mask that let slip her true attitude towards him once in a blue moon. The stiff shoulders, the thin tight smile, well dressed and walking tall yet tense at the same time.
That is the look of a traumatised woman.
She looks like she can't wait to get away from him and get the hell out of the spotlight, him being president wasn't what she signed up for, she's sick of it.
We know how their love has already been lost and how females often stay around for the kids, to avoid the stigma of divorce, to avoid the impact it might have on them.
We also know how some think it's a woman's fate, it's so common, it's socially accepted as the fatalistic outcome of a marriage, women who want to leave are told to stay out of other people's fears that they can never be whole by themselves.
A story so common that people are desensitised to it, YAWN......another abused woman, another unhappy woman, it's not morbidly fascinating enough, it's not interesting like a mass murder or a serial rapist. It's not twisted enough, it's mundane, it's boring, it's not spectacular neither is it dramatic.
It's not entertaining enough to capture eyeballs in the age of 24/7 news cycle, frantic busyness and shallow existence.
This is exactly what makes domestic violence insidious, flying under the radar, it's so common, everyone got to suck it up and depend on themselves to get through it, get out of it and heal from it.
The problem is so large, the resources are so low, the training dismal, the advocacy dismal as well.
It's not the worst, it's not the best, it's in the OK bearable zone, this zone is where women emotionally, mentally and spiritually die a little each day, we lose little pieces so unnoticeably until we're like empty shells, former shadows of ourselves.
We see him using her as a prop, a pretty accessory to justify his overt boastful masculinity like any stereotypical insecure sexist man and we get it.
She is familiar, she personifies every single dissatisfied resentful handmaiden married to influential men we know and we know a lot of them.
The facade of a happy shiny family on the outside, the facade that abused women often keep up, because they live so much of their lives in darkness, they need those moments of joy to keep going.
Fake it till you make it, pretending to be OK is much better than authentically not being OK, we're taught.
Photo found here
Photo found here
It is also that handholding a stranger's hand can be far warmer and far more intimate than a spouse's. When love has become a career, a partnership of calculated roles performed on automation like in the office, it can be easier to be intimate with someone you didn't live with, didn't sleep with, didn't get on your nerves daily.
We also had to think about how it's quid pro quo on her end, her looks for his wealth is a story as old as time, a fairytale that far too many women fall for and end up understanding they just might be happier if they married poorer men with integrity and potential.
This far more instantaneous streamlined patriarchal bargain isn't as good as it's assumed to be.
Then there're many tales of caution, that wealth changes a man, when women support their reach for potential and forsake their own potentials, they can also find them becoming cheaters once they climb up the ladder.
This usually happens mid life, when they replace "damaged used goods" for newer more youthful models, leaving their supportive faithful wives utterly crushed, often seeking solitude with other scorned women, blaming themselves for not being good enough.
Wealth corrupts, we see so many cases of this, we don't need to experience it to know it.
When people try to toxic positively preach to women who married rich, they have to resort to repression, false bravado, keep the happy shiny to prevent accusations of "why are you not smiling", to keep up that public image of thin tall affluent aspirational perfection.
The same perfection that got them that sexist man is also the same perfection that traps them permanently with them.
Pretend pretend pretend all our lives that we're OK.
They're told "other people got it worse" and indeed many do. Like as if women are at once so powerful that our suffering will garner so much empathy that it will eliminate someone else's suffering immediately, even global suffering.
When we often aren't getting enough empathy for our survival needs already, we're expected to take on so much, get so little in return and yet people still demand this that and everything else from us.
Then we're told being helpless makes us womanly, that we must accept the civic duty that comes with the increase with finances yet being poor is our personal fault, we must have made the wrong choice, when we fail it's us, when we do well, people still don't think we're good enough.
The penance is non-stop, the expectations are non-stop, we're never suppose to stop, yet the world doesn't stop when a woman has a life crisis, it keeps on turning, she knows she can't stop the world, the world doesn't wait for her, the world doesn't care enough about her.
I know this because I lived through sexual assault from a random stranger.
We're Missing the Point with Melania Trump, "but projecting our disgust with Trump onto the first lady is a temporary cathartic fix at best. At worst, it's a willing disregard for how Trump's rise to the presidency has been powered by women: his wife, his daughter, and the 53 percent of white women who voted for him.
The idea of universal female disdain for this president is a nice fantasy, but if we're going to effectively fight back against Trump, we can't afford to empathize with his enablers.
For all the #FreeMelania rhetoric, this is a woman who has consistently and actively supported Trump's misdeeds. In 2011, Melania appeared on Joy Behar's CNN show supporting her husband's racist birther campaign; during the election, she dismissed Trump's boasts about groping women as just "how some men talk."The soon-to-be first lady also suggested that the women who accused Trump of sexual assault were lying or part of an organized effort by Democrats to malign her husband."
She is absolutely right, in the last 4 years, I have put advocacy for abused women above my want to address racism. It was only when anti East Asian hate came out of the White House this year, I started speaking out about it.
The reality is I was busy shielding white self named survivors, men and women, I kept it a secret, worried that it would affect people's empathy for survivors, as they were hostile all the way.
From when I joined online survivor groups in 2016 expecting it to be a safe place, wanting to contribute as well as find empathy, only to find myself re-victimised, just doing more thankless unpaid emotional labour as they themselves refuse to advocate publicly.
White people put whiteness over communal suffering all the time, whatever the issue may be.
I also encountered white lesbians who put whiteness over lesbian issues, even white passing lesbians who said they were Jewish put whiteness over lesbian issues. The benefits of white supremacy is undeniable, if they didn't know how much it privileged them, they won't hang onto it so tightly, till death do they part, that's how intertwined whiteness is with white supremacy.
Just like Melania is far more shrewd than we give her credit for, she like many white women, strategically ally with white men to get ahead, she's willing to exchange her unhappiness for her social station in life, the benefits far outweigh the cost, she is a willing intentional participant.
Similarly, in my research of domestic violence, there're no perfect victims, women exchange their mental health for finances, they shove their kids (usually daughters) under the bus to please men, they use them as shields and weapons just like white women use women of colour as shields and weapons, they neglect their kid's basic needs to chase career dreams, romantic fairytales and instant emotional gratification.
They're not broken clueless women without agency, they're cold calculated women with agency, just not the agency higher conscious people see as just, right and helpful.
They don't do the right thing behind the scenes, they do it in front of the scenes, they're excellent believable image builders, they come across both as fragile desperate damsels in distress balanced with the trope of powerful ambitious women at the same time. She defends him by playing the role of loyal long suffering wife, she also benefits from his exploits by allying with him.
This is also why any victim find it so hard to leave, they juggle the pros and cons all the time in their heads, trying to rationalise it, when the pros outweigh the cons, they stay. They often don't factor in psychological pros and cons, also why empathy alone does not result in them leaving, it just usually traps them further, it's an additional benefit to condone them into staying. It just props them up so they can prop men up.
People find it so hard to see white women as abusers by proxy, whenever I spoke about mom to daughter abuse throughout the last 4 years, even if it was generalised, I didn't mention white people, I got online pile ones from hostile white women again, it's always them!
This theme keeps replaying itself, white women screw up their own white daughters with their narcissism, expect women of colour to clean up the mess they made, the same mess they benefitted from.
They call it feminism, I call it exploitation.
While anyone of any race, nationality and any sex can be a narcissist, an abuser or a discriminator, there is no doubt that Melania has been getting the level of empathy that Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle, two other influential public facing women didn't get. They were slammed viciously, picked on for their looks to their virtues, even a strand of white hair on Meghan was controversial.
Her ability to publicly reject him is because she knew she can get away with it, people will go aaaawwww so poor thing, she has to live with someone she hates, they don't get offended and go eeeewwww such a weak woman, why did she stay?
Which is the shit I get, the shit women of colour get. The more common scenario is the one I faced and not what Melania faced, it's people not believing us and people abandoning us when we need them.
Women of colour survivors get victim shamed far more, we get less support if we advocate, we have higher expectations to live up to and we're still held as accountable as white women if we fail.
This is gender equality from the perspective of a white woman's eyes, it is discrimination from a women of colour's experience.
White women get way more empathy in general and not just from white people, they get it from everyone, they're the Eurocentric religious symbols of purity and innocence, depicted as virginal Madonnas, motherly, self sacrificial, willing to be loyal to their husbands to a fault.
There's a shield of plausible deniability they're accorded immediately that we do not have, they're innocent until proven guilty and we're guilty until proven innocent.
I understood now why when white female survivors write "I was in an abusive relationship and I got out, I'm thankful I did" on Quora, how something so simple can get 10K upvotes.
My far more researched, far more value added writing get 500 upvotes at best.
I was amazed, confused, discouraged and disillusioned all at once. How much their privilege benefits them never cease to amaze me, how they refuse to reflect on it also never ceases to amaze me.
I also understood why when white male survivors gave out false information without due diligence via Quora, they were credible. I also understand how not having a need to achieve meant the value they bring is always low, they have nothing to prove so they will keep on backsliding as the hungrier people move forward.
It's so effortless, it causes their own demise, a demise they once again can rely on to play the largest victim card, a card to opt out of when things escalate for them.
This is also why white survivors fail to see the heroism of coloured survivors as well, that was also something I had to unpack, how much of my rise wasn't appreciated and how much of theirs was.
As I was helping them, they were helping themselves and still they can't make it on their own? But they still self deputise as my masters, to police and to rob, to own and to exploit.
While blindly complaining how narcissistic their own abusers are, living in self denial that all their problems come from moral superiority and not their moral weaknesses.
They're just as bad, colour blind means they develop blind spots towards themselves, they cannot see their own colour as anything less than pure snow and everyone else who faces them see far more clearly.
But they still expect us to prioritise them, don't they?
Just like sexist men.
Eshet chayil, God is a She.
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