October 3, 1999
The Adventures of the Great Satan
Kali sent me an email today, subject “Accounting.” She was good enough to give me a
break-down on how much money I owe her.
When we were married, Kali denied me love, affection, emotional
support, encouragement, and sex. Not
because I was dating a co-ed, as one friend’s husband was doing. Not because I worked 100 hours a
week, ignoring my kids and my wife, as another one of her friend’s
husband did. Not because
I’d fathered an illegitimate child before our marriage, as was the case
in another. No, Kali
denied me all those things because I was stupid enough to think that the
principles she so proudly proclaimed actually applied to me as well.
When she raged at me and the insults and name-calling would start,
especially around money, I would point out to her, “Money can be got. But decent treatment, love…you
can’t buy that, and you won’t be able to buy this moment away.” Some day, I am going to ask her to
repay what she owes me. What
she withheld and denied me. Heck,
she can’t even pay the sex she denied me, much less the elemental
I’m not sure why Kali wanted to get married. Given what happened later, her
“accidental” pregnancy, and the way she hounded me throughout our
second year of marriage to have a baby, I suspect she needed a sperm
donor. For all of her
protestations of liberalism and feminism, Kali is at heart a very
conservative woman, deeply concerned with what “people” think about
her. She was more concerned
about what other people thought (or what she imagined they thought)
than she was with how I felt.
Kali claims to this day that she is a Feminist. She had the jargon, she had the
ever-sensitive antenna out for the sins of men, she could recite the
failings of men and their systems…but she had no principles. She had her
"enemies list" (mostly men), but the same things she demanded as
her due as a feminist woman, she could not extend to her husband.
And that was an elemental problem in our marriage. I heard what Kali said to me. In
fact, she grew to hate my terrific recall of what she would say! And I
expected her to follow through. In those days, I watched her words, not
her actions. For all the
12-step talk about “human beings v. human doings”, the fact remains
that it is our actions in the world that make our beliefs real. I can say I love my son, but if I
ignore him to watch football, if I belittle him, if I make no effort to
actively engage with him…my “love” is just words.
It sounds confusing, I know. But let me provide a brief list of
things she said to me or did to me. After each one, I invite women to ask
themselves, “If a man said or did this to a woman, would it be
acceptable? Would it be all
right?” To me, that’s the
bedrock of principle. A
principle is extended to everyone, not just “my side.” I am fair with everyone, not just
people I know or favor. I am
against all forms of racism, not just the behavior of white racists. If being a feminist means that no
one is going to tell a woman who she must be…then being a feminist
means you are not going to tell a man who he must be.
Take a deep breath and read that again. If it is wrong for the government
or the church or the culture to dictate who and how a woman should be in
the world, it is equally wrong for Gloria Steinem or Andrea Dworkin or
Kali-Shiva to tell a man who and how he should be in the world.
That is about principle. That
is not about “us v. them”, not about “saintly women and evil male
oppressors.” It is about principle.
Anything less is a self-serving excuse. In Kali’s case, her feminism was
the camouflage she used to hide her hatred of men - camouflage which she
used over and over to justify her unprincipled and evil-tongued attacks on
Once a mutual female friend asked my opinion about a man who would
be visiting her. I offered my
blunt assessment. Later, in
an attempt to “share” with Kali, I reported the conversation as well
as my advice: that the woman be up-front with her guest about the fact
that there would be no sex during the visit. Kali became unglued and verbally
attacked me. "It is
always about sex with you! That wasn’t what our friend needed to
hear!" Exactly what was I thinking as she went on and on: "You
always", " you never", "you always". This
certainly was not what I needed to hear. In one of the rare times I was
able to remain detached, I pointed out that our friend asked for my
opinion, not for my interpretation of what Kali would
At a party attended by Kali’s friends, one of them asked what
I’m writing these days. I
told her I was working on a satire of certain excesses of the left and the
right. That night, in the
bedroom, Kali whirled in on me: Why
did you have to tell her about that project? You are just trying to make me
look bad in front of my friends! Why can’t you write something else! Why are you so interested in
attacking my beliefs?!"
Lets not forget
Once, when I was not submitting to Kali’s wisdom, she told me,
“I believe we live in a racist, sexist society. These are first principles with
me. And if you don’t
believe in them, then we have a problem.”
Well, we did have a problem. Had
I told her, “I
believe God is the Father, and women are created to be subservient to men.
And if you don’t believe in that, then we have a problem,” would that
have been okay?
Then there was the time she told me I had gained weight and I was
unattractive. That was why she didn’t want to have sex with me. Again, if a man were to say that
to a woman, would he not be labeled as a pig?
When I tried to tell Kali how I felt, she told me I was
"hysterical," I was
"over-reacting" and "overly-sensitive." Aren't those
the exact words so many abused women complain about?
She accused me of being racist or sexist when I was irreverent
about matters Politically Correct.
She demanded that I establish the provenance of my liberalness -
and give her examples. Declaring,
for example, my pro-choice position, she snapped, “You’re probably right, but
not for the right reasons.” And
you know who was the self-appointed judge and jury of the right reasons!
Kali had a narrow definition of acceptable sexual practices. She determined when and what kind
of sex we had. When I wanted
to enrich our sexual relationship, she told me that I was bringing a
"pornographic sensibility" into our bedroom. (Got to love the way she took
anything having to do with me and put it in the most vile, objectionable
She compared my choices and my behavior. Remember, I didn’t drink
or gamble or cheat or beat. I
cooked and cleaned and grocery shopped. I did lawn work and house
maintenance - in addition to my demanding freelance career. She compared
what I did with what her friends did.
With what her friends' husbands did.
With what her past boyfriends did!
Rarely did I compare favorably.
She told me she couldn’t be sexual with a man she didn’t
respect. She could only
respect someone who was contributing to the household. When I pointed out all of my
contributions, she declared, “That’s not enough!” Kali's definition of an acceptable
contribution - was a paycheck. Essentially,
she told me I would have to
On a drive to San Diego, she discovered I don’t like Bob Dylan -
I cannot stand his voice. Kali said, “You don’t know anything about
good music! How can we have a
relationship when you don’t know quality music at all!” We’d been married
about two weeks, I think.
Once, on the recommendation of a friend, I subscribed to Playboy
magazine. She found it on my
desk top, where I had left it. She
shrieked about hating this kind of rag.
She tore the magazine up and said she wasn’t going to waste our
money on this kind of garbage.
She was a lawyer, but apparently the First Amendment didn’t apply
in marriage. Again, ask
yourselves, if a man decided he didn’t like his wife reading, say, MS
magazine, and tore it up, that would be acceptable behavior? That would be
respecting his wife’s personal choices?
I periodically went to L.A. to meet producers and to discuss
writing jobs. These meetings were a
combination audition, job interview, and blind date, all rolled into one. I returned home from these
stressful meetings to be greeted with disdain. After one meeting with a producer who
finally hired me, I was telling her how well the meeting went, She said,
“I can’t cash that.” Other
times she told me, “You’re wasting your life on this fantasy!” Another time, she said, “You
can’t make it. It’s too
hard.” I tried mentioning
others who had made it, to which she shrieked, “You’re not them!”
All of the things she accused me of, she excused in her friends.
Kali stalked me through the house on several occasions when I had offered
an irreverent comment or had questioned a tenet of her
"feminist" faith. She demanded I admit I'd made a racist remark, or
demanded to know what I "really meant" by whatever uncomfortable
question I had asked. It was like being hounded during the
heretic!” Yet, I recall one
party where one of Kali's friends, let’s call her
Shelly, was telling a story. The story happened to mention gypsies and
money. As an aside, Shelly
offered, “Gypsies are really into money, you know.” As an aside, a
historical note: the gypsies
were undesirables during WWII. They died in the camps alongside the Jews
and the homosexuals. I waited for Kali to pounce on Shelly's remark, a frankly
bigoted and prejudicial statement. I waited in vain. Shelly, you see, was a graduate
student; a Woman, a Liberal; one of Kali’s Feminist friends. I pointed the bigoted remark out
to Kali later. Kali’s response: “I don’t know. Maybe gypsies really
are into money.” Funny, it
was always different if her friends did it. Does anyone imagine for an
instant that if I suggested that Blacks were lazy and thieves, that Kali
would have excused it with, "I don't know, maybe Blacks really are
I could go on and on, but as Dr. Irene has pointed out, the
dynamics are the same. The issues change, the details change. The dynamics
to come to some realizations. First, I had to realize that Kali was no
more a feminist than I am the Pope. Second,
and harder to recognize, was that there was no rhyme or reason to her
attacks. Once, she declared to me that she hated the sound
of TV during the day; it was the worst thing she could imagine; she wanted
no part of it; didn’t want it in her life. It wasn't that big a deal to
me, so I turned the set off. Two weeks later, there was Kali, watching TV
during the day. She contradicted
what she swore she hated. But the contradiction didn't matter. For Kali the
important thing, the only important thing was her mood during the
particular moment in time when she felt the need to insult, belittle, or
otherwise emotionally abuse me. In
that moment, the only thing of importance was that I was wrong.
And she still does it, even though we’ve been divorced for
years. One "fun"
example was when I was expecting a weekend visitor whom I regarded with
frankly carnal intentions. Kali
declared she did not want our son visiting while this woman was around. “I don’t want him staying over
night when women are staying with you.
It’s confusing to the child, it’s wrong to bring people in and
out of his life!!” This was
said with the usual vigor, the usual
I’m-standing-on-the-gallows-to-be-hanged-for-my-faith volume. OK, I can
respect that. Yet, about three months later, Kali’s then-boyfriend spent
a week at her house while my son was there!
new boyfriend, when he’s in town, stays at her house. While my son is there.
But it’s different when she does it.
So my “feminist” wife treated me thus: My politics were wrong. My
dreams were mocked. My feelings were belittled. My sexual needs were ignored. My
contributions to the household were considered inadequate. My
"feminist" wife treated me like a 1950s housewife! I think I've
read similar accounts from some of the women writing to this site
complaining about their husbands.
Chapter: What I
did. How I Volunteered to Play the
of Dr. Irene Matiatos and "Tex", CopyrightŠ 1999. The material
on this website may be distributed freely for non-commercial or educational
purposes provided that author credit is given. For commercial distribution
,please contact the authors at Doc@drirene.com