• angrycouple

    Angry Men and Crying Women

    In the last few months, I’ve realized something about men and women and why we often struggle with each other. It might not be THE problem, but I would venture to say that it’s certainly been A problem. And figuring this out has been really helpful to me, so I thought I’d pass it on to y’all. It all has to do with the way we express our pain.

    Generally speaking, there are two ways we experience the emotion of being hurt – through anger or sorrow. They look very different, but they are basically the same thing. So a person who is raging and lashing out at the world is essentially the equivalent of someone who is wailing with grief. This is really obvious for some of you, but I suspect that I am not the only person for whom this is a bit of an eye opener.

    Most of us are trained – usually unwittingly – to express our hurt in a gender acceptable way. If you are man, you are allowed to get angry. If you are a woman, you are allowed to cry. It’s not universal, of course. But it’s common enough that it’s true more often than not.

    We’re all familiar with people telling little boys not to cry. It’s a bad habit. It cuts them off from a legitimate and necessary means of experiencing and expressing his pain. On the other hand, some room is made to allow the boy to be angry. He can kick the dirt and throw down his helmet after losing a game, but can not sit down and sob.

    It’s not talked about nearly as much, but little girls are often punished and disciplined when they get angry. Anger from a girl tends not to be seen as an expression of pain, but as a sign that she is out of control. And that’s not allowed. A good little girl is always in control of herself, willing to submit to what is expected of her. If she is hurting, she can cry in her room or to mom until she gets over it. But if she complains, throws something or has a temper tantrum, she is swiftly punished. Refusing to allow a girl to get angry cuts her off from a legitimate and necessary means of experiencing and expressing her pain.

    So. men tend to get angry and women tend to cry. Again, it’s hardly universal, but it’s common enough. Now let’s go back to how many of us see anger and sorrow working in the real world. Many parents rely on anger to discipline and control their kids. And, of course, angry people frequently say and do things that cause harm to those around them.

    Both men and women grow up with this model of anger, but we experience it very differently.Men often find anger empowering. Women find it frightening. Women find crying emotionally cathartic – a way to move through negative emotions. Men may feel helpless, irritated and embarrassed when someone is crying.

    For a woman, anger is often very frightening.  This makes sense because for women anger is associated with being controlled by someone who may be willing to hurt you. We may even go out of our way to avoid situations in which anger is expressed. For example, research has found that women are much less comfortable with disagreement in regular conversations than men. We prefer to sit around and talk about what we agree on and may keep our disagreements to ourselves, even when it would be helpful and appropriate for us to voice them.

    Boys don’t appreciate being controlled and hurt by an angry person any more than girls, I’m sure. But since boys are allowed some experience with anger, he will often learn to see it as a legitimate tool for exerting control. The fact that in anger he may hurt someone he loves may be a source of shame and guilt. But without the ability to express hurt through sorrow, the best many men can do is suppress hurt so as to reduce the likelihood of hurting someone in anger.

    On the other hand, sorrow tends to be a pretty private emotion. Even small girls will go off by themselves to cry. Many kids can go their whole childhood hardly ever seeing an adult cry. When a woman cries in front of a man, it’s because she’s in pain and she trusts him enough allow him to see that. Her expectation is that he will do what other women do and offer expressions of concern and comfort to her while she is obviously in pain. However, a lot of men have little or no experience with crying people who aren’t children. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do, but he knows the woman is going to get angry with him if he doesn’t respond well. Often he feels that a woman who is crying in front of him is trying to manipulate or control him. (Interestingly, researchers have found that in the presence of a woman’s tears, men’s testosterone levels drop. A crying women literally makes a man feel less “manly”.)

    Odds are good that I’m describing things that most of you have experienced and observed yourselves. And no doubt some of you figured out long ago how to navigate this difference between men and women. But I do tend to be a bit slow to catch on, so realizing that anger is essentially the same thing as sorrow has been eye opening for me.

    Although I’m pretty dang tough (for a girl ;) ), anger has always made me uncomfortable. Being able to tell myself that anger is no different than sorrow, from an emotional perspective, has helped enormously. It has allowed me to make wiser choices about how to deal with and respond to anger. I’m less likely to get emotional or defensive. If someone’s really angry, I see them as someone who is really hurting rather than just as someone who is really scary. I don’t know what to do about anger except try to protect myself. But hurt? I know how to deal with someone who is hurting.

    If my husband listened to anything I said, he might be able to tell me what this looks like from the male perspective. But I would imagine that it might be helpful for a man to see a crying woman as kind of the female equivalent of a buddy who’s letting off steam. Which might make it easier to realize when she just needs someone to be present, listen and maybe offer some encouragement.

    Undoing this whole knot is a bigger task than I can take on here, obviously. But I do think it’s an important issue. Problems between the genders go back to the Garden of Eden. But we were made to live together as a whole, not in conflict with each other as warring factions.

    A friend of mine recently told me that she had a revelation that there is a serious imbalance between male and female which is causing serious problems for humanity. I think that this area is a great example of that imbalance. When men can only get angry and women can only be sad, that’s an imbalance. It affects individuals, couples, families and even communities and cultures. Heck, world history and current events probably make more sense when you consider that everything has basically been run by people whose only tool for dealing with harm done is anger.

    Clearly, world events are well beyond most of our control. But perhaps finding more balance, understanding and empathy within the context of our intimate relationships is as good a place as any for change to start.

  • hands-holding-baby

    Why I don’t consider abortion when voting

    Let me be clear up-front: I do not support a right to abortion on demand. In fact, if I were made ruler of the universe, I would make abortions enormously difficult to get. Because I’m a mean and cruel woman. No, not really – I’m actually very kind and empathetic. But I am in agreement with Mother Theresa: “it is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live”. I don’t think abortion is an answer to what is really a societal failure. I don’t only oppose abortion from a pro-life perspective. I think abortion is bad for women, worse for relations between men and women and displays a level of animosity towards women as they are – people whose bodies can start new life – which is evil and vile. If we have a society where the normal functioning of a woman’s body regularly ruins women’s lives, we’re doing it wrong. And abortion doesn’t do anything to fix that – it simply enables it. Nearly 60% of abortions are influenced by pressure from fathers, husbands, boyfriends or others with power in a woman’s life. That’s not empowering. Nor has ready access to abortion resulted in a world where people who shouldn’t have children don’t as abortion proponents used to argue. Far from it. And yet . . . the issue of abortion has nothing to do with how I vote.

    Yes Democrats not only support abortion rights, but celebrate them the way most of us celebrate Grandpa’s 90th birthday. But despite using the abortion issue to garner votes for the last 30 or 40 years, Republicans haven’t and won’t do anything to stop abortion either. Sure, they’ll fiddle around the edges and I’d much rather live in a country where doctors don’t deliver a baby up to its neck before suctioning its brains, crushing its head and completing delivery. But show me one child who is alive today because we banned “intact dilation and extraction”. It’s a symbolic victory at best. The reality is that for all their rhetoric, the Republicans have shown no more willingness to do something about Roe v Wade than their Democratic opponents. If anything, I can at least give the Democrats credit for being honest about their support of abortion as birth control. But voting for someone simply because they claim to be pro-life does nothing what-so-ever to advance pro-life policies. It’s just giving my vote to the person who has set their dog-whistle to the right pitch.

    Another reason abortion isn’t a factor in my voting is that abortion is only marginally a legal issue. 1.2 million women have abortions each year. By some estimates, one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Including a good number of women who are Christian, pro-lifers. That’s a social problem. You don’t fix social problems with laws. Social problems get fixed with people. Continue reading

  • MOD002~Nudo-Accosciato-1910-11-Posters (1)

    You are a beautiful woman . . .

    Ok Gentlemen, if you could leave us alone for a moment, I have something I’d like to share with the ladies real quick. Well, I guess if you want to pass this along to your wife or daughter, you can stay and eavesdrop.

    Now, ladies I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that as a culture we have not only fetishized flawless female beauty, we have made feeling bad about our bodies and beauty a virtue. Hopefully you are as lucky as I am and you have a husband who has managed to convince you that you really are beautiful and that the odd lumps of your figure are sexy rather than repulsive. However, I suspect that many women go through their whole lives not feeling entirely comfortable with themselves. Which is a shame.

    I have heard that once upon a time it was generally accepted that 1 in 5 women would be classically beautiful. The other 4 could be comfortable in their plainness, or dowdiness or oddness and rely on the power of their personalities and femaleness to be attractive to the 4 out of 5 men who were likewise not going to win beauty contests. Today it seems that we all feel obligated to either achieve beauty or to feel badly about ourselves.

    What is funny is that men do not seem to look at us this way. Continue reading

  • pmsangel

    PMS, Reinterpreted

    Do women tend to have higher natural emotional intelligence (EQ) than men? Most people think so although research hasn’t settled the argument yet. But if women do have higher EQ, I think I know the reason: PMS. (Men, you need to hear this, so don’t check out on me now!)

    There’s this weird thing which happens with PMS. Every month you have a day or two where you are completely convinced that your life is awful, with no redeeming qualities, hardly worth living. You will find yourself collecting evidence to support this perspective. The money problems. The kid’s dirty clothes. That hole in the wall that’s needed patching for as long as the baby’s been alive. It’s all your fault, evidence of your failure. And it’s hopeless. You know for a fact that all those people saying things like “you don’t lose until you quit” are delusional unicorn-friending idiots. At some point you start to understand women who abandon their kids to smoke meth in a motel outside of Vegas with a truck driver. It makes perfect sense in fact.

    But here’s the thing: while you are busy wondering if you actually have the cajones to go to the local truck stop and start talking up potential new boyfriends, it never, ever occurs to you that any of this is anything but gospel truth. It’s not until the next day when you discover for a fact that you are not pregnant that you realize – it’s just hormones! It’s not actually real. Continue reading

  • Eve - Anna Lea Merritt

    A Christian Feminism*

    When I first started looking at the issue of women in the bible, I wasn’t attached to any particular set of ideas about women and men. As a child of our times a more egalitarian ideal made a lot of sense to me. But I also knew that we get a lot further by conforming ourselves to God’s ways than to our own ideas. I wasn’t closed off to the idea that a subordinate role for women was something I would need to make peace with.

    In fact, it was trying to make peace with a subordinate role was what motivated me to study women in scriptures. I figured that if I could learn more about what God had to say and why, the idea of being under men would not be a source of pain, but would be a source of life, as all things which come from God are. Like many, many women I’ve heard from over the years, I wanted to have peace about this subject, but something deep in me kept rebelling at the idea that God had given me the role of less-than all my life.

    If you read what I have written previously, you’ll see that the more I studied the matter, the more it became clear to me that using scriptures to demand that women take their place under men was an abuse of God’s word. At a bare minimum, it was blazingly clear that there is nothing in scriptures which would bar full equality between men and women. So, you can make an argument for a subordinate position for women from scripture. And you can make many, many arguments for the equality of men and women which rely not just on a few verses, but stories and themes found all through scripture. Both arguments can be made, so the real issue isn’t which on is biblical – they both are, if you just look at it a certain way. Either way is faithful to scriptures. As always, all that is left now is our own choices.

    Continue reading

  • daughters

    The Book of Job: The Happy Ending

    This past week I’ve been looking at the last chapters of the Book of Job.  As I said before, these passages have always bothered me because they don’t make sense.  Why would a loving and compassionate God show up and affirm that Job did not bring his suffering on himself and then tell him to sit down and get in line because he’s just a little peon?  And why would Job respond with satisfaction at God’s answer?  So, I went back and re-read these chapters this past summer and realized how much I had been missing.

    The earlier installments are here:

    Book of Job Chapter 38: Guessing

    Book of Job Chapter 39: Our animal friends

    Book of Job Chapters 40-41: Defense!

    So today, we reach the end of the Book of Job.  Chapter 42:

    Then Job replied to the LORD:

    2 “I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
    3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.

    4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.’
    5 My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
    6 Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.”

    This is usually read as Job saying, “yes God, you are right.  I am a peon and have no cause to complain no matter how much I am suffering.”  But if we look back at what God has actually said, a slightly different picture begins to emerge.

    I believe that God’s message was basically this: “Job, you are right that you do not deserve this and I am here to do for you what you cannot do for yourself: bring down the wicked and foolish who see your destruction as reasons to be proud and contemptuous.  But I did not make you defenseless.  Look at who I made you to be; when you do not understand you imagine things that are sometimes beautiful and true.  You have taken the wild animals I created and found those suitable to your own purposes and made them serve you.  But do not behave like a domesticated animal.  Look at the behemoth who I made along with you – it fights.  You know how – you have imagined for yourself creatures more fierce and untameable than any that walks the earth.  Fight!”

    And Job understood enough of what God was saying to see that sitting in the dirt listening to his friend’s theories and defending himself wasn’t the answer to his problems.  He was in a spiritual fight and he now understood that he needed to fight back.

    Next:

    After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. 8 So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad theShuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the LORD told them; and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer.

    This is not only a matter of God reprimanding Job’s friends.  He is actually asking Job to do for his friends what he used to do for his own children.  (See Chapter 1)   God is actually entrusting Job with his friend’s spiritual well being just the way was in the habit of caring for his children’s spiritual well being. In a way, God is both affirming what Job has always done for those in his care and expanding it.

    Next:

    After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver[a]and a gold ring.

    12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

    16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years.

    There are a couple of things that I want to point out here.  First, God’s primary restoration is spiritual.  When God gave Job twice what he had before, it wasn’t just a physical thing.  Secondly, we can see from Job’s behavior that he continues to go above and beyond in following God spiritually.  In her lovely book Getting Involved With God: Rediscovering the Old Testament, Hebrew scholar Ellen Davis points out several significant things about the ending passage of the Book of Job.  First of all, the names of his daughters and not his sons are listed.  This is never the way it works in scriptures.  Not only are the names listed, but the names are outrageous.  Jemimah is a reference to a beautiful queen of arab folklore.  Keziah is the name of a spice tree used for perfume.  Keren-Happuch is a type of make-up.  It’s like naming your daughters Cinderella, Passion and L’Oreal.  And they were beautiful.  And Job gave them an inheritance along with their brothers which was just as extravagant a gesture as the outrageous names.  Why this particular reaction? I would guess because its a particularly potent way of fighting back the enemy.  Job is a devout man who knows God.  His is a deliberate rejection of a commonly accepted lie of the enemy: that women are less than, worth less and not to be valued as highly as men.  And I love that Job could of no better way to fight back against the enemy with so much force that he will never forget the battle than to honor his girl children.  No wonder God blessed him so greatly!

  • You are a beautiful woman . . .

    Ok Gentlemen, if you could leave us alone for a moment, I have something I’d like to share with the ladies real quick. Well, I guess if you want to pass this along to your wife or daughter, you can stay and eavesdrop.

    Now, ladies I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that as a culture we have not only fetishized flawless female beauty, we have made feeling bad about our bodies and beauty a virtue. Hopefully you are as lucky as I am and you have a husband who has managed to convince you that you really are beautiful and that the odd lumps of your figure are sexy rather than repulsive. However, I suspect that many women go through their whole lives not feeling entirely comfortable with themselves. Which is a shame.

    I have heard that once upon a time it was generally accepted that 1 in 5 women would be classically beautiful. The other 4 could be comfortable in their plainness, or dowdiness or oddness and rely on the power of their personalities and femaleness to be attractive to the 4 out of 5 men who were likewise not going to win beauty contests. Today it seems that we all feel obligated to either achieve beauty or to feel badly about ourselves.

    What is funny is that men do not seem to look at us this way. I remember reading a man who was describing his wife. From the description, this woman was no looker. She had a bad overbite and smallish, round eyes with rounded cheeks. However, he seemed to be oblivious to the fact that his description of her painted a less than beautiful picture. He thought she was adorable – like a cute chipmunk. He had been married to her for decades and she was now a wrinkly chipmunk looking woman and he still delighted in her.

    Years ago I knew a woman with teenaged sons who told me that she wished she would have realized when she was a teen how in awe of girls, from the homely to the gorgeous, teenaged boys are. She said that girls were like kryptonite to her sons. If these girls only knew the power and pull they had on the boys around them, they wouldn’t worry so much about droopy hair and zits. They too might be in awe of the power they have by virtue of existing in female form.

    I was reminded of all this today after reading a really lovely article by author Walter Kirn at Elle.com (of all places) about his love for the beauty of “unconventional-looking women who too frequently call themselves ugly or imperfect”:

    In the fairy tale, Cinderella goes unnoticed until her appearance is magically transformed to match little girls’ ideal of loveliness, which they grow up believing is little boys’ ideal of loveliness. This belief is wrong, though. And I should know, because I’m a grown-up boy who longs for Cinderellas who’ve never touched a pair of glass slippers—who are plenty alluring barefoot. I prefer them to some princesses I’ve danced with. . . The charm of a barefoot Cinderella is that her beauty obeys no formula and therefore can sneak up on a man. When he becomes aware of it, he feels like he’s discovered a secret. And secrets are always exciting.”

    You should go over and read the whole thing. And then send it on to your mothers and sisters and daughters. And lest you think his generous view of women is just one man’s view; at the end of the article, he explains the source of French women’s infamous sex appeal:

    An American pal at my grad school back in England had warned me that Parisian femininity would tempt me to relinquish my U.S. citizenship, and I’d assumed that what he’d meant was that I’d find myself surrounded by beauty queens with magazine-cover faces and centerfold figures. The reality was quite different, though. As the strolling women neared my table, what loomed were their protruding noses, their conspicuous ears, their overly broad shoulders. As they passed, I took note of their formidable posteriors, their lack of any posteriors whatsoever, and their oddly squat or boyish physiques. What lingered when they vanished, however, was their heartbreaking seductiveness.”

    They came in all shapes and sizes, these French ticklers, but rarely in the standard ones. The cut and drape of their appearances was haute couture, not off-the-rack. Until I saw them, I hadn’t realized how many ways there are for women to be themselves—their best and most enchanting selves.”

    Ladies, we have been lied to. We don’t have to be perfect and thin and standard to be beautiful. The men in our lives know that already. But we need to believe it for ourselves.

  • Eve - Anna Lea Merritt

    A Christian Feminism

    When I first started looking at the issue of women in the bible, I wasn’t attached to any particular set of ideas about women and men. As a child of our times a more egalitarian ideal made a lot of sense to me. But I also knew that we get a lot further by conforming ourselves to God’s ways than to our own ideas. I wasn’t closed off to the idea that a subordinate role for women was something I would need to make peace with.

    In fact, it was trying to make peace with a subordinate role was what motivated me to study women in scriptures. I figured that if I could learn more about what God had to say and why, the idea of being under men would not be a source of pain, but would be a source of life, as all things which come from God are. Like many, many women I’ve heard from over the years, I wanted to have peace about this subject, but something deep in me kept rebelling at the idea that God had given me the role of less-than all my life.

    If you read what I have written previously, you’ll see that the more I studied the matter, the more it became clear to me that using scriptures to demand that women take their place under men was an abuse of God’s word. At a bare minimum, it was blazingly clear that there is nothing in scriptures which would bar full equality between men and women. So, you can make an argument for a subordinate position for women from scripture. And you can make many, many arguments for the equality of men and women which rely not just on a few verses, but stories and themes found all through scripture. Both arguments can be made, so the real issue isn’t which on is biblical – they both are, if you just look at it a certain way. Either way is faithful to scriptures. As always, all that is left now is our own choices.

    All of which still begs an important question. Why did God allow scriptures to be written in such a way that they were so easily manipulated to put women at a disadvantage? Surely God knew that this would happen and could have made things clearer – not left half His creation so vulnerable to abuse by those claiming to act in His name. Over the years I have heard from more than one young woman – usually a teen – who has just read some verse about how a woman was ritually unclean for longer with a girl child than if she had a boy child or some such. “Why does God hate me?” was the theme of those girl’s questions. Why would God allow verses that made young women think that God hates them? Continue reading

  • Liberal Misogynistic Ideology

    I’ve spent a fair amount of time around here going after my conservative compatriots, so today I’m going to turn my poison pen on liberals. Odds are good that by now you’ve heard of wackadoodle Yale art student Aliza Shvart’s senior project. She claims that she repeatedly impregnated herself using artificial insemination, induced miscarriages, video taped it and collected the bloody mess. She made a large plastic cube with the miscarriage matter mixed with petroleum jelly between plastic sheeting and played the video onto it. The school says the miscarriages were faked. Shvarts insists they are real. Remember when art was about beauty?

    Any ways. my point in bringing this up isn’t to get into nonsense posing as art. What interests me, is what this woman claims the “purpose” of her project is:

    to assert that often, normative understandings of biological function are a mythology imposed on form. It is this mythology that creates the sexist, racist, ableist, nationalist and homophobic perspective, distinguishing what body parts are ‘meant’ to do from their physical capability. . . it is a myth that ovaries and a uterus are ‘meant’ to birth a child.”

    As Joanne Jacobs put it, “she should have taken more bio(logy), less art.” Shvarts seems to be working within a peculiarly misogynistic strain of feminism here: one which views anything which is particular to women as demeaning and which often views a woman’s body as an enemy to equality. Continue reading