I have no doubt that 18-year old Korie thought she was being funny when she made her boyfriend a t-shirt to wear on a trip to Malia.
The t-shirt in question, which she has specially made, has ‘if you can read this then you’re to [sic] close so please stay away’ on one side, and a picture of her with her baby daughter on the back, captioned, ‘I love my girls and I hate all the girls in Malia.’
She’s not exactly the first woman to deliberately create her partner a bespoke humiliation garment.
A few years ago Abbie Bartlett, then 20, made her boyfriend Leon Connelly wear a top which read ‘I love my girlfriend Abbie and I hate all the girls in Ibiza.’
Most of us are twats when we’re eighteen. Most of us are twats into our early twenties, in fact. Behaving badly in a relationship and being clingy or possessive is not a recent invention.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s okay, and we really shouldn’t be acting as if it’s funny.
Were the genders inverted, and a young woman was being sent off on a group holiday with a t-shirt to wear that declared she belonged to her boyfriend and shouldn’t be flirted with, we’d be up in arms.
We would call it controlling. We would be concerned that he might even be abusive. We certainly wouldn’t think that it was funny, or ‘just a bit of fun.’
Which pretty much sums up our attitude towards abuse.
Yes, women are the predominant victims of spousal abuse and that’s why when we talk about abuse, we talk about men abusing women. But the truth is, while women might not be as physically strong as men generally speaking, that doesn’t mean that they’re not able to exhibit abusive behaviours.
What are the signs of emotional abuse?
- Belittling you, or putting you down
- Blaming you for the abuse or arguments
- deny that abuse is happening, or play it down?
- isolate you from your family and friends?
- stop you going to college or work?
- make unreasonable demands for your attention?
- accuse you of flirting or having affairs?
- tell you what to wear, who to see, where to go, and what to think?
- control your money, or not give you enough to buy food or other essential things?
No-one is saying that the women who give their boyfriends these t-shirts are necessarily abusive. It’s impossible to judge from outside a relationship what’s going on inside.
But, the NHS’s guidelines for emotional abuse include ‘telling you what to wear, who to see, were to go and what to think’. And these t-shirts, however light-hearted the intention, do fall in to that category.
Whether you’re male or female, when you’re away on holiday you deserve to have your own space to enjoy yourself. Wanting to go out with your friends does not equate to wanting to cheat.
A good, strong relationship should be able to weather a separate holiday. In fact, in a really strong relationship the idea that someone would cheat purely because they had the opportunity to, shouldn’t even be a question.
Any relationship which requires a t-shirt of ownership in order to insure fidelity is not a relationship that seems very likely to last.