Last post, I ventured into some tempestuous waters as a man trying to express some thoughts on female emotion. When I mentioned the topic, my wife asked if I was “Mainsplaining.” But, after reading it, she gave her approval. Subsequently, I asked some of the women who inspired the thoughts to read it, they also approved, so it gave me confidence to mention a few other thoughts. The disclaimer from last week still applies: I offer no solutions only observations.
Observation #5 Mosaics Make Terrible Role Models
Some of the anxiety I have seen women have arises from the fact that they measure themselves against the best quality in other women. That is, rather than finding roles models whose entire life is known, women look at the one best quality in many women’s lives and judge themselves by these. They pull a women with great organizational skills and criticize themselves because they aren’t as coordinated. Or they look at women with four small children who write books and wonder why they can only find time to raise their children. While they certainly don’t need me to point out how unrealistic their expectations are, it does seem odd to me to look up to so many people. Role models are great, but it should be limited to a couple of people, who we actually know in our offline lives.
Observation #6 Don’t Deal With Your Emotions
Talk to most anyone about emotions and it won’t be long before someone mentions “dealing with emotions.” It strikes me that this sort of talk comes from a place where emotions are a burden, something that gets in the way of the important work. Emotions should be embraced, experienced and not just the good ones. It’s easy for a less emotional man to say that they should be valued, but there does seem to be something healthy about women embracing themselves and not viewing their bodies and hormones as if they are in constant revolt.
Observation #7 It All Adds Up
Turn on any television, read any website or listen to any radio station and there is bound to be something tragic on. In fact, every day, each of us sees thousands of headlines where the worst of life is being experienced. Somehow, we have been trained to see these stories and unemotionally glaze over them. Men as I tried to explain here have been molded to value objects like cars more than people, so when we read about these tragedies, it has very little impact. Women, though, can’t callously ignore the pain the people in these articles are feeling. In the moment, women are able to block out their feelings, but I think this adds up and impacts them in two ways. 1. In the moments when they can’t control their emotions, the episodes I just described come out and make these times more negative and severe. 2. The internet has become the main source of reality for all of us – it is literally what we see (in the pay attention sense of the word) most. It spikes anxiety in men and women because it makes our world feel more dangerous than it probably is. Women feel the need to be more vigilant to protect themselves and their loved one from the random, inevitable tragedies they see on social media, television etc.
Observation #8 The Alarm Is Sounding
Finally, my motivation for writing these two posts was because of a series of conversations that took place over the past few months with seven different women all describing the same issues, anxiety and emotions. As I thought and read about it more, I realized these problems were not unique, women across society seem to be struggling too. As a father of two young girls, I wondered if the struggles of these women would inevitable inflict my daughters. Emotions, I think, should be analyzed as a whole not in isolation from each other and together, the negative, uncontrollable deluge many women are experiencing should be a sign to the rest of us that the incongruities in society that pit women and their bodies against each other is wrong. It is up to all of us to cultivate a way of living which is more sustainable.