To: Women Who Love their Political Party Too Much
By NOW-NYS President Marcia Pappas
Many years ago, I read a book called “Women Who Love too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change” by Robin Norwood. It’s a book to help women look at why they might find it difficult to leave unhealthy relationships. So I got to thinking, what if we exchanged “men” for “the party?” I have often used this analogy when talking about my feelings and to explain why women have such difficulty holding their “party” accountable for its actions.
In the women’s movement, we often say the personal is political. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that abusive relationships can extend beyond our personal relationships with individuals into our political lives. So let’s re-read Women Who Love Too Much, substituting “the party” for “men.” It will show the dynamics of some current events, so I urge you to take this test I send, with love and a desire to empower women. Women inside and outside the women’s movement, please ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you find yourself attracted again and again to a troubled, distant, party?
2. Do you obsess over a party that is emotionally unavailable, addicted to power, money, alcohol, or other women?
3. Do you neglect your friends and your own interests, your ethics, and ideals to be immediately available to the party?
4. Do you feel empty without the party, even though being with it is torment?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, please continue. If not, continue anyway. Maybe you can help another suffering sister who needs to break away from a dysfunctional party.
Why do so many women become obsessed with a political party that is emotionally unavailable, addicted to work, alcohol, or other women, a party that cannot love them back with laws to support women’s rights?
Women inside and outside the women’s movement need recognize the roots of our destructive patterns. These symptoms can apply to men as well as women and Republicans as well as Democrats. However experience shows me that more women than men suffer from this syndrome. Be truthful with yourself. Do you fit this description?
1. You come from a dysfunctional society in which your emotional needs were not met. (Women grow up in a patriarchal society that devalues everything we do).
2. Having received little real nurturing, validation, or encouragement to be yourself, you try to fill this unmet need vicariously by becoming a care-giver, a champion especially to a party that appears to be, in some way, needy.
3. Because you were never able to change the culture into a society of supportive, caring society that believes in the true equality, you respond deeply to the familiar type of emotionally unavailability that you can change through love and devotion.
4. Terrified of abandonment, i.e. losing the Supreme Court, you will do anything to keep the relationship from dissolving. Women have been duped by the party; and some feel they’ve nowhere else to go.
5. Almost nothing is too much trouble, takes too much time, or is too expensive if it will help the party with which you are involved.
6. Accustomed to lack of respect in a patriarchal, misogynist society, you are willing to wait, hope, and try harder to please the party.
7. You are willing to take far more than fifty percent of the responsibility, guilt, and blame for the failures inside and outside the party.
8. Your self esteem is critically low, and deep inside you do not believe you deserve to be happy. Rather, you believe you must earn the right to enjoy life. You are convinced that you can earn that joy by submitting to whatever the party wants, even if it means supporting unqualified candidates or trading off one civil right off for another. In other words, you are subservient.
9. Having experienced little security in life, you have a desperate need to control your party. You mask as “being helpful” your efforts to control people and situations.
10. In a relationship with the party, you are much more in touch with your dream of how it could be than with the reality of how it is.
11. You are addicted to men in the party and to the emotional pain they inflict. It’s all you know. After all, women have been hurt by patriarchy since birth.
12. You may be predisposed emotionally and often bio chemically to addiction to drugs, alcohol, and/or certain foods, particularly sugary ones. This is the reason so many women have “body image” issues that lead to obesity, anorexia, or bulimia.
13. By being drawn to a party with problems that need fixing, or by being enmeshed in situations that are chaotic, uncertain, and emotionally painful, you avoid focusing on your responsibility to yourself and to the issues you espouse.
14. You may have a tendency toward episodes of depression (the outcome of living in a patriarchal, misogynistic society that has oppressed you for your entire life), which you try to forestall through the excitement provided by an unstable relationship with the party.
15. You are not attracted to any political party that is kind, stable, reliable, and interested in you and the issues you support. You find such political parties to be boring.
What does this test say to you about you and your relationship with your party? You decide. Is it time to leave the party, or will you stay and keep wishing and hoping they will change?