For the Record…

Been reading articles (and comments–oops!) about shelters for women and children. Apparently, some nobs think they’re “sexist” because they only cater to women and children, when way more men are homeless blah blah blah.

For those who are blissfully ignorant as to how these shelters work, a women & children shelter with a secret location is for people who are fleeing from abuse. The secret location is so their abusers can’t fucking find them, and therefore not abuse them and the children. It’s emphatically NOT “a bunch of feminists who want to keep men out because they think we’re all rape-happy.” Though now that they bring it up, I can see why someone fleeing from abuse may not have to deal with strangers telling them how pretty they look when they cry. (I have seen this happen in a “regular” homeless shelter.)

If your #NotAllMen fixation is so keenly developed that you actually feel cheated that men aren’t allowed in secret-location domestic violence shelters–my suggestion would be to keep spouting that bullshit. Once women everywhere want to smack the shit out of you, you might actually have a valid claim to stay at one of the shelters (and boy howdy, are they luxurious!) you lament.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve given volunteer time and stuff to local shelters, both for the general homeless population, and in what we used to call “battered women’s shelters.” I don’t tend to mention that I’ve actually stayed at a women’s shelter, as a client, when my (now ex, obvs) boyfriend was too dangerously unstable and threatening even for me. I cannot overemphasize the fear, the feelings of failure and embarrassment, the complete and utter shame people feel when they have to turn to such a place. Wait, did I say “people,” because I meant “me.” I felt terrible fear, shame, humiliation, and as if I had failed everyone who ever believed in me. I can only imagine that it’s 100x worse when children are involved.
In addition to that, shelter living is not sitting around all day “living off the government.” People staying in any shelter are required to have, or be actively seeking (with proof) a job. They have to pitch in with cooking (try making spaghetti and salad for 50 people and tell me if it feels like work) and cleaning, and must work with a caseworker to get a safe housing plan in place. There are rules, regular drug screens, mandated counseling, and if you break those rules you have to leave no matter how dire your situation.

Women and children who need these shelters often have different needs than the homeless population at large. It is not hyperbole to say that some are fleeing for their lives. Check out the stats on how many women are killed by partners after leaving them. No, one group isn’t “better” than another, nor are some “more deserving” of help than others. Every human being deserves a safe, warm place where they can sleep without fear of vermin or violence.
If you honestly have a problem with that, I’d suggest that rather than focusing on the “breaks” others get that you don’t–that you take a good long look at whatever ugliness inside you makes you see victims of abuse and say “Damn, I wish I could live like those lazy bastards…seems like a sweet deal.” Because while that hateful, misinformed gibberish may not make me want to hit you, it sort of makes me wish that somebody else would.

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