My sister's divorce was not a pleasant one.* Not that I think many of them are. But she expected hers to be a lot less acrimonious. They'd been living apart for some time--she'd lived with me in Texas for three years and he'd had a number of girlfriends, one of the reasons for their split. And yet, when she decided she wanted to be with someone else, all hell broke loose.
As an aside, here's another bit of the folk knowledge I spoke about a few days ago. Practically since I've been old enough to date, I've been told repeatedly that guys "can't take what they dish out." The meaning was based on the experiences of women who, after being repeatedly cheated on by men, decided to "step out," as my mom would say, and have an affair of their own or leave their relationships.
The reactions of their significant others were usually violent. The men's pride had been damaged and the women had challenged the double standard that excused men's cheating and excoriated women for their's. Thus, though people may have murmured at the violence, the larger noise was that, well, it was sort of
understandable because she brought it on herself. I promise you that I am not exaggerating when I say that I can't count the number of times that I've heard, from other women, "Girl, she asked for that ass-whooping."
I learned pretty quickly that women's bodies around here were to be treated much like any other property: men "bought" them at the price of commitment, men had the right to do with that property pretty much anything they wanted, and if anyone else "trespassed" upon that property, he could be dealt with violently.
Still, I am horrified by this case
that Marcella posted about
Testimony starts today in the trial of an Arlington woman accused of causing the death of her lover at the hands of her husband by falsely claiming she was being raped.
In a case that has drawn national attention, Tracy Roberson, 37, is charged with involuntary manslaughter for her role in the 2006 shooting death of Devin LaSalle. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. She is also eligible for probation.
Her husband, Darrell Roberson, fired the fatal shots but is not facing any charges after a Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict him.
Tarrant County prosecutor Sean Colston said Mrs. Roberson's false rape claim led to Mr. Lasalle's death. "The actions of Tracy Roberson were absolutely reckless. Tracy Roberson got Devin LaSalle killed," he said Tuesday.
Defense attorney Jill Davis admitted her client was having an affair and yelled rape because she feared her husband would kill her too.
"He immediately jumps out of his SUV and starts firing. He's aiming to shoot anyone because he's angry and he's jealous," she said. "She could have been hit. Darrell didn't care who got hit."
For those who would argue that the husband was "protecting" his wife, remember that he'd pulled the gun before anyone told him anything. As Marcella said, "With a gun pointed at her, Mrs. Roberson made her statement under extreme duress and not in cold blood."
The defense attorney is right. He was angry and jealous. And the grand jury was willing to give him a pass because those feelings are understandable for a man when he feels his property has been violated.
But Mrs. Roberson has to pay. Because her actions were reckless. That action, according to the prosecutor and the grand jury, was the false rape claim.
The indictment claims she knew, or should have known, that her rape claim could have deadly consequences.
I don't buy that. This woman lied to protect her self from an angry, jealous
man with a gun. We know what her real reckless action was, even if the indictment doesn't state it.
Having an affair. Letting someone else touch what her husband "owned."
In my sister's case, when we moved back to Louisiana, her divorce had been filed but was not final. And so, when she started dating someone else, her estranged husband reacted badly. Lots of threats. Some physical altercations. Lots of "my son better not be around him." It all culminated in November 2007, when my sister was sitting in her car at a local store. Her fiance was in the store getting her a pickle and when he came back to the car, her ex approached them and began trying to open the doors. He got my sister's open and hit her. And Sis, being sis, got out and knocked him in the head with her boot before her fiance made it around the car to her side to pull the ex off. The cops were across the street. In the end, they all received simple battery charges.
My sister is righteously angry for at least two reasons.
1) After a lifetime of never being in trouble, she caught a charge behind someone hitting her first.
2) Can you believe one of the stories circulating around town implied that my sister was wrong for having moved on with her life and having the nerve to "flaunt" her new relationship in the face of a man who had been a habitual cheater?
I can only talk about my small, rural community in North Louisiana--I do not mean to stereotype anyone else's, one reason that it's taking me forever to write this post. Here, men's cheating is excused as "normal," as something that "they all do," so that the offense becomes not that they do it but how
they do it. There's a certain way to cheat that maintains the facade of public respect towards the wife/significant other. I can't help thinking of music that displays this mentality. Some of Jay-Z's lyrics in 03 Bonnie and Clyde **
The problem is, you dudes treat the one that you lovin
with the same respect that you treat the one that you humpin
Now they 'bout nothin - if ever you mad about somethin
It won't be that; oh no it won't be that
I don't be at, places where we comfy at
With no be-atch; oh no you won't see that
So basically, men try not to be seen with "the one that they humpin" in public. In return, this "other woman" is supposed to know "her place." And the wife/significant other is supposed to take solace in that.
Today, I've been thinking that it is not only men's crimes of anger and jealousy for which women have to pay. I read on Shakesville
that Deborah Jean Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam had committed suicide (both conveniently for her former clientele and suspiciously). One of the commenters posted this:
In June 2007, one of Palfrey's former escorts, University of Maryland professor Brandy Britton, committed suicide after being arrested. At the time, Palfrey said of Britton:
"This is a woman who was divorced, who was trying to raise two, ah, high-school children, college-age children," Palfrey said. "Great job title, the great position, all the respect in the world, but she wasn't making enough money. So she decided to do a little moonlighting."
Palfrey added, "And she was publicly outed, is a good way to put it, she was absolutely humiliated. Ah, she couldn't take the humiliation. Her whole life was destroyed. And she, she just, ah, ultimately committed suicide."
Why were her reputation and name not worth protecting as vigorously as so many little black books? Why was she "disgraced?" Hell, in Louisiana people rallied around David Vitter's hypocritical ass. They spoke of forgiveness and "private matters." Yet, Brandy Britton was outed very publicly, while so many men will walk away potentially, their secrets preserved at the cost of Britton's and Palfry's lives.
______________________________*My sister's story is shared with her permission.
**I think I'm going to start compiling a list of popular songs that explicitly support this sentiment.