Time for a bit of history, science, stats, and most importantly of all, context.
Maybe it’s because I’m an autistic lefty and so the entire world is upside down and backwards to me, but everything I hear about normal, natural, traditional, and the nuclear family is utter bullshit.
To build some personal context for this, me and one of my former roommates were discussing family ties, family deaths, and emotional intelligence.
Blood is supposed to be the strongest bond. It’s what we aspire to. The nuclear family, royal lineage, and even racism all goes back to the idea that shared blood is sacred.
You are like me and so you are safe.
It’s supposed to be evolutionary. Psychology fucking loves to drag out evolution to explain everything. Although, oddly enough, the only reasons they come up with for anything are fighting and fucking. Go figure. So not really too much to work with there.
And…when you actually sit down and study the history of the family, when you realize that while we may have stupid reptilian drives we also have rational minds able to overcome that mess for a reason, and when you really look at individual families in modern times something happens…
You start to realize the family is, more often than not, the most dangerous place for anyone to be.
Yes, genocide is fucking awful and terrible. Yes, wars fucking suck, too. But if you consider the idea of the microcosm of the personal eventually leading to the macrocosm of society and culture, and you realize that these experiences are way too common, you start to realize how one affects the other.
Much of our training and development as human beings occurs within the family unit. And it is also where all of the things we do later in life and believe down to our cores are instilled in us.
It is very, very hard to break that conditioning, even though our brains are more elastic than we realize.
But what are we being conditioned for and by?
What does family mean when children and women are the property of men? What does blood signify when a daughter is sold to her rapist? What is love when women are stoned as adulterers and witches? What is a relationship when jealousy is acceptable in romance? What is history when we don’t take it into account?
1 in 3.
1 in 4.
1 in 5.
1 in 6.
Intimate partner abuse.
Female-assigned people who are sexually/physically assaulted.
Male-assigned people who are sexually/physically assaulted.
People under the age of 18 (usually 12 and under) who are molested and assaulted.
That’s a fuck lot of damage happening to a whole lot of people.
Kidnapping, rape, abuse, death: there is still this idea that it’s something strangers do to one another. Despite the fact that it’s incredibly likely to be someone you love doing it to you. You’re more likely to be killed by your spouse than to die from genocide. You’re more likely to be raped than attacked by a shark. You’re more likely to be abused by an intimate partner or family member than you are to die in a car crash.
Yet many people fear planes, sharks, genocide/terrorism, and strangers more than abusers.
And here in America, it’s all about the family. It’s all you hear. They keep talking about the family like it’s sacred.
The family tells you to forgive your rapist/abuser.
The family is your rapist/abuser.
The family forces you to go to law school when you want to be an artist.
The family decides who you should marry without taking your desires into account.
The family takes your kids away from you when they find out you’re polyamorous, gay, or transgendered.
The family kicks you out for being queer.
The family belittles you at every turn.
The family beats you because you are disabled.
They family, sometimes quite literally, demands your blood.
You belong to me. The blood boils.
My son, not used to such bitter fighting, up all night crying, scared because of someone else’s jealousy being expressed in the most unhealthy way. It hit me hard that, unlike me, he hadn’t grown up with violent conflict. His father and I resolved our conflicts peacefully, in front of him, calmly, even if we didn’t agree. He’d never seen that poisonous, verbally abusive or manipulative behavior that is so normal within romantic relationships.
In romance, fighting like that is considered normal. In families, children are supposed to ignore or not be present when the parents are fighting. And when those children grow up they’re not supposed to abandon their parents.
It’s perfectly fine for the parents to give up on their children for not being who they want them to be, but if the children are damaged by their parents they better not cut them off-the ungrateful little shits!
It’s perfectly normal to ignore a fight between a couple you’re close to because “couples fight”.
We have become so desensitized to the terror of blood and marriage that we don’t even see it as abhorrent. We know those numbers. Those are facts. That leaves a huge number of us damaged and without this magical “innocent” childhood that people keep talking about.
Since when was innocence ignorance? Since when were teenagers demoted to idiots? Since when was adaptability rare? Since when were we all infantilized the point of stupidity?
With all of the evidence proving how dangerous family life can be, why are marriage, parenthood, and romance still upheld as ideals? When we are actively encouraged to put blind trust into the people most likely to hurt us, why are we so surprised that survivors don’t leave their abusers? When community is no longer a thing and the nuclear family is left to fend for themselves, exactly what resources is an abandoned child supposed to have?
The truth is, for many thousands of years, families have been about blood in the sacrificial manner. Those members who are outspoken are called “black sheep” and are placed on the altar of family honor.
People look at me weird because I avoid romance at all costs, I never wanted to get married, and I don’t give a shit about following the “plan”.
I look at them weird because they put up with abuse for the sake of romance or blood, because they still want to go for that 4th marriage, because they still adhere to the plan.
Because they don’t understand what a nuclear family is or how recently their “traditions” were created.
We’re expected to use reason, values, and logic for everything but family ties.
Love conquers all! we are told. All you need is love. Love is blind.
Love is definitely blind. It does not see the blood running from our eyes. It does not care for the content of that so-called love. Blood binds us in the worst of ways so much of the time.
I used to wonder why I wrote about families the way I did in my stories. Like every other facet of life, I dredged up the corpses the world has buried and brought them into the light to determine their cause of death.
More often than not, it’s family.
Originally published on Postmodern Woman in 2015.