My Christmas was, for the most part, very relaxing. I watched movies and knitted, then read a novel, and posted about Frederick Douglass. Exactly what I had hoped.
So why is this post titled "Christmas Drama and Idiocy" you ask? Well, Christmas was relaxing as long as I stayed completely cut off from the rest of the world. When the rest of the world poked its head into my life, drama and idiocy followed.
When my family called -- and I should have known better than to pick up the phone, because family always brings the drama and idiocy -- I learned three pieces of information. The first piece involved the drama. My brother who lives in Florida is separated from his wife after a long year of drama that involved their son, the Spider, being diagnosed with Aspergers, her overdosing on alcohol and prescription drugs, her entrance into rehab and subsequently an extramarital affair, and finally she and my brother separating (which, given the state of their marriage for the past decade, should have happened long ago).
I think she also has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or something of that sort, too; but she comes from a family (much like my own) that thinks that any sort of mental illness is a personal failing that the afflicted should just "get over" without any help from therapy or modern pharmaceuticals. So, it's not like she has any support in that department, and probably hates herself for being "weak."
That is the context. Because of her troubles, and because my brother can hire more expensive lawyers, my brother has custody of the Spider and she has visitation on weekends and alternate holidays. Christmas was her turn, but she fell off the wagon before Thanksgiving, and her holiday visit was cut down from a whole week to something like the weekend before Christmas. When my brother called to say he was on his way to pick up the Spider at the end of the weekend, she was already on the road to her family's house in Texas with the Spider in tow. For a brief period earlier in the week, my brother thought she had kidnapped the Spider because she wouldn't answer any of his messages (of course, to be fair, they were probably angry, threatening messages).
Now, it looks like she just wanted her kid for Christmas, so took him. The fact that she would piss off my brother was icing on the cake. She just didn't consider that she might be getting herself into some legal trouble because all of the visitation agreements are part of the separation settlement. Meanwhile, my brother promptly found a pit bull of a lawyer and filed for divorce. I predict he will become involved in Men's Rights Activism in the future. I predict that my family will support him in this.
That was the drama part of the call from my family. The idiocy part came with the information relayed in my last post about people in Texas stockpiling weapons and ammunition because a black president is one of the signs of the apocalypse. The idiocy part also came when I spoke with my sister-in-law, Rosie. Rosie told me that my nephew, Boudreau, likes playing the video game "Grand Theft Auto."* Specifically, he likes "blowing shit up and beating on prostitutes." He is five years old. FIVE.
As Digger and Dykewife asked on Twitter, why is a five year old playing "Grand Theft Auto"? Don't they have parental warnings? Where are his parents' heads? To answer in reverse order, up their asses; yes, there are parental warnings, but the parents have to heed them for the warnings to work; and because his dad -- my brother -- thinks that it is a cool game and having a five year old "bitch-slap hos" is funny.
To be fair to Rosie, she doesn't mind the "blowing shit up" part of the game, but she really really hates the "bitch-slap hos" part of the game. Why doesn't she stop it? Well, she has tried, but then my brother steps in, and they get into a fight, and she just doesn't have the energy for all of that since she has to go to work, go to class, clean the house, discipline the child, discipline Boudreau, and on and on. Their marriage is not as equitable as she hoped or he thinks it is. I predict divorce at some later stage. They've come very close more than once in the past five years.
This was the family drama, and you can probably see some of the underlying issues of misogyny, acceptance of violence, particularly violence against women, and the way that the children involved are being taught that women are "bitches and hos," lesser creatures who serve men in one way or another, or deviant if they cross men in one way or another. You can also see why I prefer to spend holidays at my own home, with movies, knitting, and books. Perhaps I should also refrain from answering the phone!
ETA: One last bit of idiocy. My brother asked about the Gentleman Caller. His summation was, "as long as he's employed and a man, it's o.k." Do we need to enumerate all of the things wrong in that patriarchal homophobic sentence?
*For the uninitiated -- and I've only heard of this game, never seen nor played it -- it allows the player to not only steal cars, but beat and murder other characters, and to solicit and rape prostitutes. Sex workers have protested this because "Children are more likely to imitate a character whom they identify with." Ironically, in this matter, they have allies in the nefarious extreme Christian group, The Family.