Friday, April 13, 2012

If women were meant to be doormats, we wouldn't have bumps!


Today I want to welcome Vonnie Davis to my blog. She's a sister author with Wild Rose Press and has been one the supporting angels who've made me glad I sent in a submission that was accepted. Being one of the roses in their vast garden has been a great experience.


Usually my posts are more light-heated, full of humor and more reflective of my personality. But today I’m on my soapbox with something to share.

At some point in history, we women were sold a flawed bill of goods. We were told to be a good wife, we had to be subservient to our husbands and silently put up with his male moods. To be a good Mother, we had to “do” for our children. And to be a good employee, neighbor, or committee member, we had to silently handle whatever was heaped onto our plates.

In short, we had to be a doormat.

One doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with the other.

Granted, I thoroughly enjoy spoiling my husband, but I expect the same in return. If I am to respect him, then by golly, he better respect me. Things like tenderness, willingness to do little things for the other, respect, emotional support and all the kindnesses that grease the wheel of marriage should flow both ways.

I’ll be no man’s doormat—although I have been in the past. And may an elephant caress my ex-husband with his toes.

To be a good Mother does not mean we enter into maternal slavery. We do our children no favors by doing everything for them. Our daughters and sons need to know how to fix a meal, sew a seam and scrub a toilet. My two sons know how to stuff a turkey and clean an oven. My daughter can pound a nail and change oil in her car. As I taught them to take care of themselves, I also served as Room Mother, chaperone, taxi-driver and football and wrestling mom.

Motherhood does not lower us to doormat status; it elevates us to the role of teacher and mentor.

When I was working, I took great pride in handling my job to the best of my abilities. But don’t expect me to do Martha’s work, too, especially if Martha is too busy flirting or gossiping or surfing the net to do her work. Don’t think I’m going to work myself into the ground so your life will be easier. Ain’t happenin’.

Because if women were meant to be doormats, we wouldn’t have bumps.

Women aren’t less than.

We are more than.

Yet, somewhere along the way, a number of men adopted the philosophy that it’s ok to abuse women—physically, sexually, verbally and emotionally. Some statistics state 1 in 3 women suffer an aspect of domestic abuse or violence. These men, who inflict abuse, are either emotionally ill or conditioned by the society in which they live or their religion that they have a right to “control” their wives by any means necessary. In their minds, their wife is their doormat.

While it’s easy to say, “I’d never live with a man like that,” it’s also easier to slip into that pattern of action and reaction than one might think.

In my debut book, Storm’s Interlude, I deal with my heroine’s past domestic violence at the hand of Phillip, her ex-fiancĂ©. Rachel is a home care nurse and Sunny is her patient. They are outside, walking around the house…

“Tell me more about you and Phillip.”

Rachel looked away for a beat, tamping down the pain of the memories. “Once we were engaged, the putdowns started. When I’d object, he’d say I was paranoid or neurotic.”

Sunny sat up straight and stared at Rachel for a beat. “Paranoid? Neurotic? Girlfriend, you have got to be kidding me! You’re so not any of those things.”

She swiped at a tear. “No, but I was in such an emotional state over losing Daddy...the suddenness of his death.” She looked down at her clasped hands. “Some teen texting and driving hit him head on. Daddy and I were so close.” She cleared her throat, trying to regain control. “Initially, when Phillip’s insults started, they didn’t register. Guess I was in a kind of emotional fog. Every time I didn’t see things his way, he accused me of being paranoid or neurotic.”

Sunny took Rachel’s hand and squeezed it. “That’s so cruel. The manipulating bastard.”

She squeezed Sunny’s hand in return, their emotional bond strengthening. “That’s how the abuse started. With his undermining my mental stability, I actually started to doubt myself. Can you believe it? Long story short: he wore me down emotionally so the remaining steps of the abuse seemed normal.” She shrugged again. “Like I deserved it or something. The temper rages started. He beat me several times, broke my wrist. I got scared and ended the engagement. Took me a while, but I finally came to my senses.”

“Smart girl.” She pointed her finger at Rachel. “Now I understand. That’s why you reacted the way you did earlier when Storm was rough with you, isn’t it? Oh, honey, if Storm knew…”

“There’s no reason for him to know. He has Pilar to think of, not me. You ready to go the rest of the way?” Sunny nodded and stood. They started walking again, arms linked.

Sunny patted Rachel’s hand. “Honey, I think the two of you are kidding yourselves about the way you feel. If you could only see how you look at each other, hear the sound of your voice when you address one another…” She wiggled her fingertips in the air. “…see the sparks between you two, then you’d know what I know.”

Rachel shrugged. “I’ve accepted how I feel. I’ve also accepted the man I care for is engaged to another woman. I refuse to bemoan how much it hurts, ’cause frankly, it hurts like hell.”

“What am I going to do with you two?” Sunny stopped and looked at Rachel, who crossed her arms and regarded her with one eyebrow cocked in defiance. “Okay, okay, I can see you don’t want to talk about it. So, tell me what your ex-fiancĂ© did when you broke off the engagement.”

They started walking again. “He slashed my tires.”


“I replaced them. He slashed them again.”

“Oh, a determined bastard.”

She looked away. “Yes. Next he smashed a window in my SUV and slashed the seats. When that didn’t make me come crawling back to him, he broke in my house and cut up all my clothes.”

“Oh, see, now we’re gonna have to kill him. A man doesn’t mess with a woman’s wardrobe and live to tell about it.” Sunny smiled wryly.

“Of course, there were harassing phone calls and e-mails. Terrible texts.”

“Did you go to the police?”

She nodded. “Oh, yeah. Repeatedly. Got a restraining order against him after he beat me and broke my wrist, making it illegal for him to come within five hundred feet of me or my house. He wasn’t allowed to contact me by phone or text or e-mail.”

“I gather that didn’t stop him.”

“No. He broke in one night.” She bent to smell one of Noella’s peach roses, giving Sunny a second or two to rest. Their walk around the house was tiring her.

Sunny plucked a yellow rose and ran it over her cheek. “What happened?”

“At the time, I was taking care of a patient in a little town about thirty miles from Yazoo City, where I lived. So I commuted every day. Got home after dark every night. One night he was waiting on me, sitting in my living room, big as you please. Said he wasn’t leaving. Claimed we were getting married within the month.”

Sunny took her arm, and they started walking again. “Oh, that gives me the chills. What a sick creep. What did you do?”

“I surprised him. I pulled a gun out of my purse and ordered him out of my house.”

Sunny stopped and looked at her with a shocked expression, one tinged with respect. “Really? You had a gun?”

“Yes, I had a permit for it and everything.” They’d finished their trek around the house, and Rachel held the door open for Sunny. “He left, but not before threatening to kill me. Said I had two options: marry him and live, or die without him.”

They stepped inside to the coolness of the mudroom and then entered the cleaned kitchen, where the hushed noise of the dishwasher created a humming background. Sunny collapsed in a chair, her breathing labored again. “And?”

“And I figured I had another option. I hid from him. A coward’s way out, I suppose. He didn’t know where I was working.”

“He never followed you?”

“No, I made sure of that. Once my patient was in remission, I went to Colorado for a few weeks to relax and decide what I was going to do about Phillip. That’s where I was when you contacted me. Since I came straight here, he has no idea where I am. I got a new cell phone number and e-mail address. No one in Yazoo City has it except Lynda. She’s the only one who knows how to get in touch with me other than my mom. For the first time in months, I feel safe.”

Ah, but was she safe?

For one lucky commenter today, I’m giving away a free copy of Storm’s Interlude, nominated 2011 Book of the Year at Long and Short Reviews. Please leave your email address so I can notify you should you win. And remember, God didn’t create you to be a doormat.



  1. So um... does having bumps mean we're supposed to go slowly when driving our cars over you? ;-) Soz.. couldn't resist.

  2. I love it when someone makes me smile over my morning coffee. Yup, drive slowly, boob-bumps ahead. But once you get over me, you better hit the gas, 'cause I'm yanking off my orthopaedic shoes and bashing your back lights out. Love it. Have a great weekend.

  3. Ahh, Vonnie, how I love reading your posts. You have so much personality. You always make me smile. This post hit home for me. I don't usually talk about it much, but I've been a doormat. My abuse started when I was little, so my doormat training started when I was very young. And it wasn't until I was an adult that anybody told me I had much of a choice in the matter. I'm still learning how not to be a doormat. I call myself a work-in-progress. So I have to say, I love reading your feistiness here. Learning to stand up for ourselves is not, but we girls need to keep spreading the message. Great post, Vonnie.

    Keep me out of the running for the copy of the book. I've read it, and I loved it.

  4. Joanne, I was a child of abuse, too. My mother was physically and mentally abusive. I speak with a stutter to this day because of it. Calvin says while my mouth may stutter, my mind doesn't. But, you are so right, once we become accustomed to abuse as a child, it's hard to see that we deserve better. Often we marry abusers, even though they don't present themselves as abusers right away. I stayed alone for 12 years after the divorce and learned to "know" myself. What would I and what wouldn't I put up with ever again? It's a slow process, but girlfriend, we owe ourselves the respect others demand from us. It has to flow both ways.

  5. Great post, Vonnie. I too grew up in an abusive atmosphere and it really sets you up to be used as an adult b/c you feel unworthy of anything better. Hence my first marriage. And when that elephant is done w/your ex, it can go belly flop on mine. LOL Anyway, I have a wonderful hubby now who, like your Cal, gives as much spoilin' as he gets;) And I'm learning I don't always have to put myself last.
    Hope you have a great weekend!

  6. That was a great post and scene, Vonnie. Although I was never abused, my mother endured my father's emotional abuse almost from the time they got married. The macho Italian man has a vicious control mechanism, and he feels superior over his wife or girlfriend.

    I, too, adressed abuse in book 1 of my Italian medieval series, The Lily and the Falcon. The hero never wants to marry because he fears he might inherit his father's cruel physical abuse. He grew up watching his mother suffer in silence time and again.

    It's a powerful subject. And I agree, no woman should be a doormat...ever.

  7. Yay Jennifer! You are SO right; we don't have to put ourselves last. We are as worthy of love and respect when we voice our expectations as when we joyfully spoil our loved ones. Before I read over this blog this morning, I carried in Calvin's cup of coffee and set it on his nightstand. Not because he demanded it, but because I know he enjoys a few sips as he's getting dressed. I spoil him, he spoils me. He puts me first, I put him first. What a lovely arrangement.

  8. Thanks, Jannine. Abuse is rampant. We talk of bullies in school, but there are bullies at home, too--male and female alike. How I wish we could all treat each other with affection, kindness and respect. What a fabulous world we could have. But, as Calvin so often says, I am a dreamer. ;-)

  9. Vonnie, because I've been fortunate, I have to admit to never living with this problem personally, but I've known others who have. You know what gives me hope? The fact that so many women in this situation today would rather go it alone than put up with the crap. Years ago, a lot of women didn't really have that choice....(My aunt with 4 boys) She didn't have opportunities in the work force that they do today, so she stayed and put up with it for her kids. And the kids never did appreciate it. She never sees them nowadays!!...sigh!
    I'm so glad you have your Calvin!

  10. Great post, Vonnie. And just so's ya know, I'm no doormat. Ask my husband. lol! Then again, neither is he. I think I'll keep him another 30 years. Like Calvin, he's one of the good ones.

  11. I have another of the good ones, Vonnie. Mitch told me when we were dating that he always wanted me to speak my mind because he respects a woman with opinions... I think he regrets telling me that some days, because I've never been shy about voicing my opinions. lol We have a wonderful relationship and our daughters have had a good example to guide them... In my opinion. :) I'm so glad you and everyone who has, got out of your door mat situations. I know of others who sadly haven't, or not alive.

    But now I have to read Storm's Interlude! And you know, since I have the choice already, I think it will be the paper version just so I can admire the feel of it in my hands. :)

  12. Thought provoking post, Vonnie. I was blessed to be born to an angel of a man, one who knew the importance of empowering his five daughters with the knowledge that a woman is no man's doormat. (Of course, mom may have had something to do with his beliefs. She doesn't take anyone's crap) But women like you, who have had to learn that lesson on their own, and walked the hard road to respect, are shining examples of the strength of the 'weaker' sex.

    You go, ladies!

    BTW - still laughing at the elephant comment. You crack me up. I already have Storm's Interlude. Loved it!

  13. Absolutely a terrific and timely post, Vonnie! I wasn't a doormat because I was a woman but rather because I was thoroughly indoctrinated from childhood with the idea that I wasn't worth much. I don't regret being (in the Bible sense) in submission to my husband during his lifetime or "doing" for my kids--but I never disabused any of them of the notion that I was a doormat for them as for my immediate and extended family. In the past five years, I've concluded that I don't have to live the rest of my life that way--and, thanks to lovely people I've met through various internet groups (including you!) and reconnecting with old friends who knew me when and loved me anyway--I've tossed that worn-out doormat on the trash heap. As you can imagine, it hasn't been a popular move with those who want it back on the ground--but hear me--I'll never, ever go back! Hugs!

  14. Thanks for your comment, Mimi. There are some shining examples out there. Take Tina Turner, for example. Her first husband and partner, Ike Turne, was very abusive and one day after a beating, she left with the money in her pocket--and stepped into the light of her own success. Granted, it wasn't an easy road for her. But I doubt she ever regretted her decision.

  15. Lilly, I'm so glad you're no doormat, too. With our bumps, it can be downright painful.

  16. Calisa, when you begin reading STORM'S INTERLUDE, remember I was in a snit when I started. I was mad at the publishing industry for their mass rejection of my first story with its sweet romance and gentle, beta hero. When I wrote "Chapter One," I was thinking, you want an alpha hero? By golly, I'll give you one...

  17. You're such a sweetheart, Mackenzie. I love your spirit. Thanks for stopping by and laughing at my lame lines.

  18. Judy, we do get in the rut of putting ourselves last. I love doing for the point of self-sacrifice. I've had to check myself time and time again. Pamper those I love? Yes. Destroy my sense of self in the process? No. We have to give ourselves the right to read that book, or take that long bath, or get a manicure, or isolate ourselves to write. Sometimes our souls need rejuvenation, too.

  19. Right on, Vonnie! A mother's job is to raise independent adults, not kids who bring their laundry home so good ol' mom can do it for them.

    The Golden Rule applied to all relationships, especially marriage - Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You cannot force a man to love you by doing everything he wants (some women are mistaken in this regard) Either the guy loves you or he doesn't. You can't force him to love you. they may lie and say they love you IF you do this or that - not true love girls. Don't fall for it.

    Amen - handing your soapbox back to you, Vonnie.


  20. I'll never forget what happened the first time my husband took me to a family gathering, (his family in Alabama). When the women got up to make their husband's dinner plates, I was shocked. Lee stood up and asked what I'd like to eat. The room suddenly went silent. I told him he didn't have to make my plate. He said, "No, you've been cooking and watching the kids all day, you deserve a break. Besides that, I like doing things for you. I love you." He's my hero.

  21. Lynne, so true, so true. Either we're loved for ourselves or we're not. You can't buy love. Not with money or presents or doing everything for a person--or by allowing them to hurt us. True love doesn't work that way.

  22. Oh, Sandra, what a gem your husband is! He's a shining example of manhood, too. Yay him! And yay you for being the woman he loves.

  23. Hi Vonnie,
    Terrific blog. As far as I am concerned if a man doesn't respect his wife/mother/sister and women in general, then he is a poor excuse for a man.
    I loved the elephant bit too.


  24. Oh, Margaret, I so agree! We mothers teach our sons both by word and by deed that we are not to be fooled with or taken for granted or used.

  25. Hi Vonnie,
    I just want to say thank you so much for bringing this issue out in the open and talking about it. one of the biggest problems with abuse of women is that they don't want anyone to know and so they won't talk. if we don't talk we can't find a way to change it.

    i know this because of my own past abuse and it took me many years to get the courage to seek the help i needed. now i can't advise women enough to 1)leave if it is safe to do so, 2) get counselling right away for you and your children if you have them 3) be happy and don't look back with regret, ever experience teaches us something and helps us to grow. you never know if someday something you went thru will be what pushes that other person into taking the steps to change her life too.

    sorry i rambled so long!
    tammy ramey

  26. Oh, Tammy, you did't ramble at all. In fact, you said quite eloquently in just a few words, what I took a whole blogpost to say. Love does not equal pain. It shouldn't hurt. No one has the right to make us feel "less than." Thanks for speaking up.

  27. Mimi tells me my blogpost had 163 page views. I'm amazed. Wow! To celebrate, we've drawn two winners. Mimi drew Lilly's name and I've drawn Tammy's. I'll notify you both shortly.