Feminism on Trial
"Under Siege at Home"
As the relationship between Ginny and Jack grew closer, the rift between her and her parents grew wider. She described it as being "under siege at home." Her drinking and carousing till all hours of the night on those nights when she actually came home plus the fact that she was carrying on with a married man who had a child, was more than her parents with their Old World values could tolerate. They disliked Jack and were so cold to him that he stopped coming to the door when he came to pick up Ginny. He would sit in the driveway and honk the horn, an act that drove Gus ballistic.
Rumors had been circulating that Jack had "been rough" with a girl he dated who was the daughter of a friend of hers. Ginny was cautioned by her mother to be careful but she vehemently defended Jack, trying to reassure Virginia that he was always gentle with her.
It did no good for Ginny to remind her parents that Jack Sidote had come from the same hardworking Italian stock as themselves. The fact that he had graduated high school, served in the Marines, been honorably discharged, and worked a steady job all fell on deaf ears.
In marked contrast to Ginny's free-spirited, largely nocturnal lifestyle, her younger sister Emilia married a nice Italian Catholic man and settled comfortably into a diurnal routine that had Gus and Virginia's wholehearted approval. Ginny remained confident that a similar situation might be possible for her and Jack and that, once achieved, her parents would finally come to accept him.
But, when the real tip-off came that something wasn't right about Jack, Ginny failed to read the handwriting on the wall. After being stood up by him for a date and not seeing him for two days, he explained that he had been arrested for possession of a gun. He was released after convincing the police he needed it for protection while driving through rough neighborhoods in New York City. After telling Ginny the story, he retrieved the gun from a drawer and began waving it around, saying "I've killed a lot of people with this gun." When she tried to laugh it off as a joke, he grabbed her violently by the shoulders and began shaking her hard, shouting, "You don't believe I could do it?" several times.
For Ginny, the experience was physically painful; the first of what would become many painful beatings at his hands. As he was shaking her, she described being frightened by "the look in his eyes. It was a maniacal look, a scary, crazed look" that she had never seen on him before. "You better believe I could do it," he also repeated several times, breaking out into a sinister cackle that scared Ginny even more.
Whether it was just bravado on his part or if he was serious, Ginny had no way of knowing. Her failure to correctly interpret the warning signs that were becoming all the more apparent would lead to much worse problems later on.
As the summer of 1965 wore on, Jack began tightening his Svengali-like grip on Ginny, demanding an accounting of everything she did when he was not around, as well as who she was spending her time with. To him, most women were "bitches" and "whores," including Ginny's friends. To please him she had to distance herself from them, just as she had been doing with her parents. Her universe centered around him and no one else.
When the summer ended Jack announced that he had an offer from a man in Florida to go partners in a bar and restaurant and, with or without Ginny, he was going. Ginny knew she couldn't live without him and, if he was going, so was she.
Waiting until the very last minute to tell her parents, knowing what their reaction would be, she discreetly packed her bags and sprang it on them just as Jack was pulling into the driveway. "You whore!" was Gus's reaction and he slapped her. Then he began crying the bitter tears of a father who knew he'd lost control over a daughter he loved. Ginny's only reply was to pick up her bags and walk out the door.