My Single Parent Story // Falling in Love with an Abusive "Woke Misogynist"

 In collaboration with  Scotty & Min

In collaboration with Scotty & Min

the woke misogynist preys on a woman’s desire to be respected.

I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t feel, I couldn’t sleep. This is was the cycle of “couldn’t” that I had grown accustomed to as the partner of an abusive alcoholic. I also couldn’t see past it. My story is unique and also common—we stay with men who hate us because we have learned that hating ourselves is okay. It’s fine, and it’s normal. Find someone who fills the basics, and just figure out the rest.

For me, the basics were some pretty surface-level things. My list included “tattooed, athletic, liberal, funny, feminist,” and anything else was just a bonus. When I met David, he was a skinny, witty, attractive skateboarder and definitely fit my bill. We fell in love fast, and we fell hard. We’re talking matching-tattoos-after-two-weeks kind of hard. So naturally, we had those talks really early on. Most of the conversations that led me to believe he was “the one” revolved around politics. A self-proclaimed feminist, he filled in those gaps for me. His best friend growing up was gay, and he understood racial inequality as much as a white kid from the suburbs could. He’d absolutely have no problem with a trans child, he understood his privilege, and had grown up with a single mother. He loved her—her abuse and addiction aside. He was just the right amount of broken and just the right amount of “woke.” I was in it for the long haul.

David spent the first year building me up. I was seemingly cured of my self-doubt, and my self-worth had skyrocketed. When I looked in the mirror, I saw someone beautiful. Part of it was that I saw someone beautiful standing next to me.

I noticed early on that when David drank, he almost always went overboard. The drinking never stopped. He told me it was to avoid a hangover. He was six years older than me, and I didn’t want to be the one to tell him he was wrong. I come from a Mormon upbringing, so things like alcohol and addiction weren’t things I had ever dealt with firsthand. They had always been shoved aside and seen as a problem outside of the church.

The lies about drinking were gut-wrenching. I felt so alone, lying awake a night. I felt crazy. I was made to feel crazy and obsessive. I was called a "psycho bitch" and almost always felt like just that—a psycho bitch. So I apologized. “I still love you, crazy.” That smile got me every single time.

I’d struggled with my weight for a long time. I was raped in high school and never told an adult about it, so eating was comforting and took my mind off of it. David was also sexually assaulted when he was young, so we understood that about each other. Finding a man who understood the repercussions and emotional weight of sexual assault was a big deal for me. He was determined to raise his children differently, under the watchful eye that his parents didn’t give him that would have inevitably prevented his assault. He hurt like I did. His outlet was through sports, but the purpose was the same. He didn’t see my weight as something to be ashamed of—he told me he didn’t really see it at all.

The first time he called me a “fatass,” he was drunk, and I was holding our brand new baby. Two years of learning to love myself was built upon the foundation that he had laid. My foundation was cracking. I remember the feeling in my chest, and “shattered” is the only word I can really think of to describe it.

I placed my worth in someone else’s hands, and it was my fault.

Having someone to come home to was brand new. The first few months were spent playing house—candlelit living room picnics, elaborate home-cooked meals, staying up until 2 am laughing, or laying in a parking lot after a party talking about our feelings. I had never loved every piece of a person, never been in love with someone I could identify so easily with. I knew what every single inch of David looked like because I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him. I never saw myself with anyone else.

The first time David hit me, I was pregnant. The second time, I was holding our ten week old. As I locked myself in my room with Jaxin, I dialed 911. It was time. This was it. It was time to leave. I’ll figure out the rest. David sat outside my door punching himself in the face for ten minutes. The police arrested me for assault, and I spent the night in jail. As the ripped white cops drove me in the back of their car—Korn’s See You On the Other Side playing—I told them being arrested and then being forced to listen to Korn officially made this the worst day of my life. Deep down, I felt like dying. This was my world. I felt responsible for everything that had ever happened to me. I wanted to eat; I wanted to stop feeling this.

I could write an entire book about my jail experience, from sleeping on the floor, to trading my freshly squeezed breast milk to a chick named Boner in exchange for some Cheez-its. I spent the night writing a big “fuck you” on the postcard they give you. I wrote my address on it. I knew I couldn’t send it. There was an immediate restraining order put between us. I just wanted my baby.

I eventually got out and used the system the way it had used me—David agreed to drop the no contact order, I moved back in, and this time I started saving. I did my homework. I waited for him to beat me up again and this time I took video. When he took my phone, I ran to my computer and wrote “call 911” with my address to a friend. I covered every single base to ensure that this would never happen to me again. I decided that becoming a single parent is going to ultimately give us a better life.

During the first couple weeks, sitting alone with Jaxin, the overwhelming “what now” feeling poured over my body. I’ve had time to dismantle everything that was wrong with David, and I was more determined than ever to keep it away from Jaxin. Becoming a parent truly let me see the abuse for what it was—I loved Jaxin so much that hearing someone say those things to his mom made me sick. I was constantly putting myself in the third person and thinking about how every decision I made was impacting him.

I wanted to raise a socially conscious, feminist, white male, but so far my experiences with feminist white males was a terrible example. I needed to be the example. I was a parent, living alone, and scared.


 Branch and Twig tiny feminist Scotty & Min
 Branch and Twig tiny feminist Scotty & Min

Today I’m a published photographer, designer, and activist. With the rise of the Trump administration, we’re seeing more and more “woke misogynists”—men who align themselves with the feminist movement but are still products of a misogynist system.

Nona Aronowitz describes it best:

we stay with men who hate us because we have learned that hating ourselves is okay.

“The woke misogynist is a guy who talks a big game about gender equality and consent, uses vocabulary like “triggering” without rolling his eyes, wears a pussy hat to the Women’s March, prefers to fuck feminists and may freely call himself one, too—then turns around and harasses you, assaults you, or belittles you. Perhaps his behavior throws you off because, unlike the whimpster or emosogynist of the aughts, he’s confident in himself and his pro-woman bonafides. Or because he apologizes nicely and indulges you in a thoughtful conversation after the offending incident. Or, most likely, because his misogyny is more ambiguous and subtle than that of, say, Bill Cosby or Roger Ailes or Donald Trump.”

Identifying a woke misogynist is hard—falling in love with one is even harder.

Recently, Saturday Night Live did a skit in a bar. Men keep coming up to Cecily Strong and starting off with a joke about how men are ruining things. They go in depth saying how they worked for Hillary Clinton, or that they are in town for the Women’s March. They get along for a minute, and then he asks her out under the presumption that she’s going to say yes because of everything he just listed. When she politely says no, they scream insults at her and call her a bitch, walking away. I think most women can relate, and while they’re usually hiding behind fedoras and dating profiles, the woke misogynist preys on a woman’s desire to be respected.

If anything, the rise of privileged white men has opened up a discussion on who we want our own white men to become. Raising a son who is able to use his voice to help raise other voices has always been my main focus. I’ve chosen that I will not keep my own abuse a secret in hopes that it would be a driver to not let what happened to his mother happen to other women in his life. I would hope he would see the value of being taken away from a shitty situation and given more opportunity because of it, and I would hope that he would stand up when he sees injustices happening around him.

How do we ensure that? We can’t. Will my son be a misogynist? The answer is a reluctant yes. He will not be able to grow up with sexist media and not internalize pieces of it. It’s unrealistic that someone would grow up constantly being told and molded into what a “man” is and refuse to believe any of it. Defining the line between woke misogyny and internalized misogyny is a big fish to fry.

On the flip side, we’ve seen a rise in feminism through men. Genuine, real feminist dudes. As they watch our rights being stripped through the defunding of domestic violence programs, loss of our reproductive rights, our bigoted president and the politicians bold enough to believe that it’s now safe to degrade women publicly, we are seeing our allies come forward. It’s a sense of “get up here” and “where were you the past 10, 20, 30 years?”

It seems daunting to separate the real deal from the abusers. It was hard before. The only thing that we can do is to identify abuse as it happens. If I would have left at the first “psycho,” “bitch,” or “fatass,” I wouldn’t have been around for the scary stuff. My decision to become a single parent has remained one of my bravest. My decision to raise a socially aware child will be one of my most rewarding.

Jamie is the owner of Branch and Twig. She is 23 years old and resides in Vancouver, WA. Her background was always in videography. She was an AV nerd in high school and president of her school video club. When college came, she decided to major in graphic design and put video second. She became pregnant — and knowing she'd be a single mother — she made the choice to put off school while she worked, scraped, and saved. One way she was able to stay creative and sane was photography. Through thousands of photos of her baby, she was able to keep doing something really special.

She found a new passion and moved from her own child to other children, which then expanded into all kinds of family portraiture. She was asked if she offered wedding services, and at the time was floored. So she became a second shooter for another photographer and learned some ins and outs of the wedding business. This has become her favorite thing to do — capture love and tell your story.