The problems that the men in Allison's family face may have been a bit personal, but they were probably more social than anything. She grew up in the south during an era where women weren't a liberated as they are today. She never gives any indication that there were strong male role models in her family for her uncles. Given this, the men in her family probably did not have any guidance and this goes back to the personal level. On a social level the author notes how many people in the south could say that their descendants own a plantation and that her family could not say such a thing because they were so poor. It is evident from this short narrative that the poor were treated differently than those who weren't poor. There was a definite distinction between the social classes which is not much different than it is today. Because of this, her uncles and the other men in her life were never given a leg up in life, did not have any positive male role models and were never reprimanded by the women in their lives for their wrongdoing.
Allison does not seem as though she is exonerating any of the men in her life. As a child, she didn't view her uncle's behavior as antisocial because her mother and aunts constantly fed her the notion that they were behaving as all men do. She never exonerates her stepfather either. She knew at a young age that he was hurting her and she never made excuses for his behavior in the narrative. In fact, as she gets older she learns to stand up to him and his filthy ways and in a way she is exonerated. What she is attempting to explain in this narrative is that not only men, but women as well can exhibit antisocial behavior. As she discusses her many relationships with women, we learn that some of them were fulfilling and some of them did not end so well. Had she not had these experiences with women, she may have gone through life with the feeling that all men were like the men of her childhood.
Allison lets us know that she gets a chance to bond with a male relative later on in her life who happens to be her son. His birth was apropos because she now had now lived through and seen a lot in her lifetime and was at the point where she could share her rich experiences of the world with her child. If she had given birth to her son at a much younger age, she probably would have still been of the same mindset that other women in her family had regarding men which was that their bad behavior was excusable because they were men. Now, being a new mother, Allison is given the chance to raise her son to be respectful of not only women, but of everyone because this type of behavior is what is expected of everyone in society.
From the outside looking in, Dorothy Allison's life may seem tragic to many. She grew up dirt poor in the south, she was surrounded by women who weren't liberated and did not really know how to stand up for themselves and she was surrounded by men whose behavior was considered antisocial and by a step father who constantly abused her sexually and physically. Yet, through it all she came out as the victor because she lived to survive her childhood and she has shared it with the world which is liberating within itself. The fact that at a young she could discuss her stepfather's behavior toward her says a lot about her character. The fact that she did not hide the fact that she was a lesbian during a time when being homosexual was not as accepted as it is today shows the reader that she was a woman of courage and probably a natural born leader. Her story is inspiring and relatable to persons from all backgrounds and all walks of life for it is not only a story of living through poverty and severe abuse. It is also a story of overcoming obstacles and overcoming them successfully.
Allison, Dorothy. Two or Three Things I Know for Sure. New York: The…