Friday, March 30, 2007

The Effect of Women's Anger on Men

After posting on this study yesterday finding that women have more anger than men and are more passive aggressive in showing their feelings, I started wondering how this relational passive aggressiveness or sometimes just plain aggressiveness plays itself out with men. When people talk about women's relational aggression, they often mean, "How are women mean to one another?" But what happens when women are mean to men? I see that Vox Day has weighed in on this issue and given this advice to his male readers:

Anger isn't often righteous, it's usually stupid, petty and irrational. If one feels angry all the time, or bordering on being angry all the time, then one is teetering on the edge of constant irrationality. If that's not enough to give you pause about giving into anger at every opportunity or even glorying in it, well, there's not much point in attempting to speak reason to you, is there, since you're nothing but an irrational creature capable of nothing but being emotionally manipulated.

And living in fear of such a one is rather like being a well-trained dog. Face the fear, let the anger come and then note how little effect it has on you once the shouting is done. And once the angry realize how little effect their anger has on you, they'll either cut it out or their passive hatred for you will go active. Either way, you'll be much better off.

I understand Vox's disgust with anger and irrationality and his subsequent advice for men--just face the anger, which is certainly better than being afraid of it. I have certainly seen men who are so afraid of a woman's anger that they will "Yes, dear" her to death. Bad move--it teaches the woman nothing about how to control or constructively use her anger--and reinforces her anger which, in turn, will ensure that she will do it again. What an unpleasant dynamic.

But I don't agree with much of what Vox says. Anger is not always stupid, petty and irrational; sometimes it is a legitimate response, a way to tell us that something is wrong or that we need to become more aware of what we are feeling and why. Women are not irrational creatures, but actually very rational at times and their angry behavior, even in a passive aggressive form, is not always about being emotionally manipulated.

It is often about not understanding how to display anger in a constructive way--instead they often react by being passive aggressive, which is a tool of emotional manipulation against others, not necessarily against oneself. In passive aggressiveness, a woman can get back at her object of anger, yet psychologically avoid responsibility. It is not an irrational strategy, only a sometimes ineffective and psychologically helpless one. Also, does women's anger really have no effect on men? To say it does not seems to me to be a cop-out. One that makes sense, of course, but a cop-out nonetheless.

Which brings up my next question; the real point of this post is just kind of wondering aloud to myself and my readers: what is the effect of women's anger, both directly and indirectly on men and their later emotional well-being? We ask so many times how anger is felt by women or how women are affected by men's anger or the anger of other women, but I would really like to know how angry women affect men. It's always funny in our culture to see women lash out angrily at men, hit them, call them names and act in passive aggressive forms towards kids, husbands and male colleagues, and many men take the abuse, but at what cost? Does the anger of women toward the male sex and males in general effect the male psyche and in what way?

If you are male and have had an experience with women and anger, either with family members, female colleagues, or others, what was the emotional toll on you or was there one? I would love to hear from you, either in the comments or by email.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

"We Protect Our Kids from Everything but Fear"

So says Paula Spencer, author of Momfidence!: An Oreo Never Killed Anybody and Other Secrets of Happier Parenting, in a My Turn Newsweek Column this week:

It's not that I think parents shouldn't worry about anything. I'm personally petrified of SUV drivers on cell phones. I fret as much as the next mom about how to pay for college. I pray my kids won't wander onto MySpace and post something dumb.

But you can't go around afraid of everything. It's too exhausting! No matter how careful you are, bad stuff happens (diaper rash, stitches, all your friends assigned to another class). And it's seldom the end of the world.

Watching my daughter's friends ogle my pantry, I realized there's one big, legitimate fear that I haven't heard anybody mention: what's the effect of our collective paranoia on the kids? Yes, these very kids we want to be so self-sufficient, responsible, confident, happy and creative (not to mention not food-obsessed). They're growing up thinking these weirdly weenie views are healthy and normal.

Rush Limbaugh read Ms. Spencer's Newsweek column on his show yesterday afternoon--and said this to his listeners:

We have all of this paranoia: "This is going to cause this! This is going to get you sick! This is going to get you this! This is going to cause that," and every day there's more of it released, and it's just absurd. So she's right. There is a climate out there that's creating paranoia and fear of nature, human and otherwise, to the point that people are expecting that it's entirely possible to have a flawless existence -- one with little danger, one with hardly any disappointment, one with no failure -- and we want to shield all of our young people from the slightest bit of confrontation, the slightest bit of pain, discomfort, and all of the lessons that life teaches.

I guess we're just raising the next Nation of Wimps.

Good Cause of the Month

I sometimes use the blogads money I get from increased traffic to support my favorite causes. This month, the ad money from the Hillary, Obama etc. ad for a healthcare forum to your right (which runs out soon) will be sent to Redstate in order to send two of their bloggers to Iraq. I suggest you donate too, if you are interested in supporting brave bloggers who are willing to use their time and talents to give first hand reporting to the rest of us. I want to thank my new girlfriends, Firedoglake and the Feministing blog--who threw some increased traffic my way this week. Because of their links and those from other friendly leftist blogs, I am able to continue my philanthropy to my favorite causes. Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!

Women, Anger and the Web

With all of the anonymous insults being thrown around on the internet these days, do you ever wonder about the sex of the poster? Do you think it's mainly men who are the supposed angrier sex so the insults must be coming from them? Think again. Research from a British study of 22000 people over 50 years shows that women are the angrier sex. Heather Joshi, the study co-author, states, "Our study show that women report being angry far more often than men do."

IT is the research finding every man suspected, and every women will vehemently disagree with - women are the angrier sex.

New research that examined the responses of 22,000 people over 50 years has found that women are more likely to feel angry and persistently frustrated than men.

They also are more likely to act on their frustration in an unhealthy manner, choosing passive aggression over non-violent confrontation, psychologists say.

And Hell really has no fury like a woman scorned, as thirtysomething women with no partner are far more likely to report angry feelings than those with partners....

Dr Dryden, who runs a clinical practice in London, said his work with patients suggests women respond to anger in a less constructive manner than men.

He said: "Instead of using it as an opportunity for assertion, they tend not to deal with it directly, often becoming passively aggressive, talking behind people's backs, or taking feelings out on other people.

The researchers speculate that women's anger is prompted by feelings of powerlessness caused by "entrenched sexism in modern society." As opposed to what, less sexism in ancient society? When sexism was more prevalent, women were even more "ladylike." Today's women are encouraged to express anger in our "you go, girl" culture but instead of using anger constructively, women continue to take the mean-girl routes, talking behind people's backs, avoiding confrontation and personal responsibility for their anger by being anonymous and/or passive aggressive in their approach. What this leads to is probably... more anger.

The solution? Try healthier, more constructive ways of using anger--like confronting others directly (like on Blogging Heads TV). Perhaps by using anger more constructively, women will learn that anger is an emotion that can be helpful, but not if acted out in a passive-aggressive manner where one does not take responsibility for their feelings. Being angry in a direct and open manner where one owns up to their feelings is more likely to be helpful. This also means understanding the boundaries of anger and not pushing the boundaries into something physical etc. when that level is not called for. Women don't seem to understand anger, and our society in general does not help with this. So, women either explode in a generalized "anger at the world" way or act in a passive-aggressive manner so they can dump on others without any responsibility.

It would be interesting to do a study of all of the anonymous posters of insults on various blogs around the web and see if proportionally, there are as many (or more) women who pen the insults (I am not talking here about discussing issues--I mean ad hominem attacks). Because if that is the case, that more women are behind the anonymous insults, it indicates that deep down, women have learned little from feminism over the last years--they are still too afraid to come out in the open in an assertive and constructive manner. They are still, ultimately, too intimidated to take real responsibility for their actions. It's no wonder they are so angry.

Update: If you have a girl or know a girl and want to understand more about the underground culture of aggression in girls, try reading Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons. It's a bit too PC for my taste, but Simmons does a good job of describing the dynamics of how girls behave aggressively with each other. What a waste of youthful time!


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cut and Run or Stand Your Ground?

Michelle Malkin gives good advice to bloggers who receive threats. What would you do if threatened on the internet, stand your ground or turn tail and run?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

Bitchy Poll Results and More

In the post asking "Is the blogosphere just a bitchfest?" over 800 of you have weighed in with your opinion so far. The majority of the votes (302) went to "the blogosphere is not a bitchfest." In second place with 231 votes at the time of this post is "you say that like it's a bad thing." The Allure article I mentioned had a poll asking readers what they thought about the "rise of the bitch." It's not up on their internet site yet so I can't link to it, but my guess is that if they were asked about the blogosphere, many of the Allure readers might answer that "yes," the blogosphere is a bitchy place. Why? Ken, a commenter in the previous post, put it best:

"The blogosphere is a giant conversation. If you stand around with the bitches, you get bitchiness. But you can find anything, presented any way you want."

I think that the Allure readers are probably into sites that are celebrity driven like Celebitchy or Perez Hilton was interviewed for the Allure article and stated proudly, "I'm pretty out there. Just ten minutes ago, I published something making fun of Britney's baby! I'm not afraid of 'going there.' And obviously people seem to be enjoying it: I mean, I'm getting four million hits a day." So yeah, apparently bitchy sells if you have certain celebrities attached to your bitchfest. Hang out at Hilton's site for a while and you will probably understand the definition of bitchy pretty quickly. But Hilton's is a gossip site, so what can one expect? Bitchiness is the raison d'etre.

But what about political blogs--outside of Wonkette--are they "bitchy?" Well, yeah...look at Atrios's "Wanker of the day." If that's not bitchy, as well as a bit childish, I don't know what is. What purpose does "Wanker of the day" and other bitchy political commentary serve or what purpose does bitchiness in general serve? Allure says that "Bitchiness is even a form of social seduction in certain circles--a way of drawing others in." One study at Bringham Young University even found that kids as young as four engage in "relational aggression." "They know that there are certain kids they need to be nice to and others who are throwaways." The kids think, "I don't need to be nice to them and in fact, I may raise my social status if I am not." So imagine, you call others names and try to make them subhuman, then your inner circle puts you higher in the social strata. What a plus. If you are a sadist, that is.

If "bitchy" is defined as speaking up with an opinion about political issues that are important to you, then maybe bitchy is a good thing, but if bitchy is done with the sole intent to harm others or to dump your bad feelings onto the world, maybe it's time to re-examine your etiquette on the internet (and maybe elsewhere in your life). So how bitchy is too bitchy? Perhaps someone should ask blogger Luke Ford, a supposed friend of Cathy Seipp, who recently died of lung cancer. Ford has posted negative things about Cathy on his blog, stating:

"Where is Cathy’s daughter Maia Lazar in all this? After I explained my intentions, she said Sunday that she does not care what I write, be it negative or positive, about her mother. And even if Maia did care, I’m not going to soften my approach to a public figure such as Cathy to spare anyone’s feelings.

Cathy was magnificently polarizing. She was easy to love and hate. That she was overwhelmingly wonderful to me does not change how I will report on how others’ felt about her."

Okay, this goes way beyond bitchy. It reminds me of a story a supervisor of mine told me in graduate school. He stated that one of his patients wanted to just "be himself" and would take a dump in front of anyone without regard to their feelings about his decision. Ford has decided that regardless of how anyone feels, he will continue to "be himself" and dump his negativity onto his blog for posterity. His choice. But it is reflective of cruelty, not bitchiness--he may not see that, but it is clear.

So, perhaps the right question is not, "Is the blogosphere a bitchfest?" but rather, "What purpose does this bitchfest have?" Will I or others learn from it? Get information from it? Be a better person for it? or am I just here to take a dump on other people to get my jollies? If the latter, perhaps you should be spending more time reflecting on why you are sadistic rather than just a bitch.


GM Roper has a tour of the Psych-bloggers at his place. Go take a look.

Update: In particular, take a look at Iron Shrink's post asking, "Is it possible to raise my IQ?"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Is the Blogosphere One Big Bitch Fest?

On a trip to Atlanta this weekend, I was reading the April edition of Allure magazine and there was an article entitled, "Life's a Bitch," one of whose taglines read, "The bleating heart of the blogosphere is bitchiness."

So what do you think? Weigh in below.

Is the blogosphere just a big bitchfest?
You say that like it's a bad thing!
This poll sucks! You're an idiot!
Who cares? Bitchy sells! free polls


The Carnival of the Insanities is up at Dr. Sanity's place.