Actually, it’s having expectations that you do not verbalize that’s the failure.
I consider attaining gender equality a necessity, and I believe that a big part of that is getting women to rally their courage and change, break, and destroy female to female communication as we know it. Why?
Because there are aspects of female bonding, sharing, and pecking order arrangement that is not really communication. Our tendency to have expectations of others, especially other women, that we do not verbalize explicitly, is at its best a way to breed silent disappointment and at its worst and most common a method of bullying. Without finding the courage to speak our minds to each other in respectful and honest ways, ways where we account for the other having a different experience from our own, we create a network of suppression.
I just had to end a relationship ultimately because of this exact behavior. Over the years, resentments built. Expectations and demands were cast onto me, but no one stopped to explicitly detail them to me. I was supposed to be acculturated into a lifestyle and mindset that I did not question: this was first, to escape the possibility that I might not to consent to it, and second, to avoid accountability for doing something to me that was just plain rotten. A pattern of behavior emerged where my interests were marginalized, conversations were one-sided on the other person’s side, and it became clear that forcing me into a mostly silent position in the relationship would give them a sense of power and me a sense of powerlessness that they desired.
Perhaps some of this was unconscious. It doesn’t make it any less abusive.
Notably, one person decided to start communicating with me in passive aggressive ways, and like a typical abusive-female, found support from whatever peers she could for this being the “best” way to handle me. Results were typical of high school cliques, with abusive searches in my name, and people hopping on to social media to send me verbally abusive messages. None stopped to question this, or to look at the actual behaviors: I had sent forth no communications, and except for the final shut-down, I had remained polite and distant in the few communiques I had allowed them to waste my time with. I was made out to be “crazy,” a popular tool of disempowerment for those uneducated in how mental illness works, with the false belief that social pressure from people who have never offered me support would somehow “bring me around,” based on an assumed need for approval from these people. The big failures of this plan were that I never got social approval while living with them, and I only found it when, as an adult, I consciously dropped the assumptions and mores that they had acculturated into me. My life got better when I quit their tribe.
The truth is, if these people had chosen to be honest and direct, instead of playing “guess” culture games, like “asking” if I had filtered their emails when they had in fact sent no communications during a crucial period and “asking” if they could call when I had never told them not to, we might still have conflict, but it wouldn’t have led to a “stop communication” directive. Essentially they have reframed the situation in their heads so that they can tell themselves I am the bully, when I am not the one who decided to play the “freeze out” game in the first place. I am also not the one who has asked friends and neighbors to “spy” on me via social media; I find the intelligence of the people who have agreed to do so questionable. It’s one thing if I were in fact a child, but I’m close to 40, and I definitely do not fall into the vulnerable adult category, so going along with these requests is a)creepy and b)makes the morals of the people doing this highly questionable.
If these women had engaged in open, honest communication, we wouldn’t be here right now. But it’s for the best. Just seeing them makes me sick to my stomach; that’s what happens when you’re perpetually the monkey in the middle and they are determined to make sure no matter what you do, you “lose.”