Cranky Women

Stalwart Women

Stalwart Women

In his recent blog entry “Understanding Angry Old White Men,” my friend Dr. Gerald Stein stated: “Males pass through a stage of feeling almost invulnerable and immortal, at least on occasion. They rush to fight wars, compete for mates, and try to climb higher than others. Women perform a selection of these tasks, but few teenaged girls believe themselves indestructible.”1   I recommend that all adults, regardless of age or gender. read his entire article.

Although the thrust of his insightful article captured the human condition, pointing to the physiology of age and the effect of retirement on his defense mechanisms as the source of rage in men of advancing years, Gerry makes rather broad assertions about women which may not hold up.

If in fact, women are the tougher sex, able to survive natural childbirth (which would probably kill a man), “are better sports and, ironically, superior at manning-up to the depredations of time,1” it must be a function of what society expects of them. A staple “joke” in modern sitcoms, is set up by the man stating a decision appears not to be thought out very well and each time the woman states an opinion, the man responds with increasing dismissiveness until she finally utters, no matter how calmly she speaks, the kernel of truth that cannot be argued away, he shouts “I can’t discuss this with an irrational woman.”

One of my feminist instructors in the 1970’s told me in no uncertain terms women actually were manipulative. Now I understand why.

As for women being “superior at manning up to the depredations of age,” we have developed a multizillion dollar cosmetics industry and long ago learned that complaining about anything, more often than not, fell on deaf male ears; and if we were heard we were subjected to degrading baby-talk or demoralizing vitriol.

Though the women who are now 60 and over have been conditioned, often from birth, to lay back, be good little girls, play with dolls rather than water guns, hold their tongues, and restrict their thoughts and dreams, some women have been blessed with the type of personality that allowed them to blaze trails through forests of testosterone, regardless of the roles their mothers modeled for them. Still, we’re not out of the woods yet. To wit, the Verizon commercial2 reminding parents that daughters really do listen to them when they give messages that essentially tell them to drop their potential down the toilet.
Verizon GirlAnd, I can’t help thinking that familial abuse–so distressingly prevalent–figures into any tendency to feel invulnerable more than the accident of gender. “In 1940, [Carney] Landis published his findings in two related studies, the first of 153 ‘normal’ women and the second of 142 psychiatric patients, reporting that 24% of these subjects reported being sexually abused as children. Later in 1956, Landis expanded the study to 1,800 college students, discovering that 35% of the females . . . had been sexually abused at an early age.”3 The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Statistics estimates that nearly two of every three female victims of violence were related to or knew their attacker and in 92% of all domestic violence incidents, crimes are committed by men against women.4 According to RAINN” these days, 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police. Can you imagine how many more were suppressed in the 40s and 50s.5

Without these influences, females might well think of themselves as indestructible. In fact, sometimes you just need to look at the self-destructive activities some women of all ages participate in and wonder whether they actually do feel as immortal as our male counterparts do.

We’re not better at accepting age, we’ve just been annealed to the ravages of age by the ravages of youth and middle age.
Photo Credits:
A) A montage of women who led the way: Left to right from top: Sappho, Venus, Joan of Arc, Eva Perón, Marie Curie, Indira Gandhi, Venus of Willendorf, Wangari Maathai, Mother Teresa, Grace Hopper, Mamechiho a Geisha, a Tibetan farmer, Marilyn Monroe, Oprah Winfrey, Aung San Suu Kyi, Josephine Baker, Isis, the Queen of Sheba, Elizabeth I, a Quechua mother. Sourced from Wikipedia.
B) The girl from the Verizon Commercial
1. Dr. Gerald Stein: – “Blogging About Psychotherapy from Chicago”;
2. Verizon Commercial 2014 “Inspire Her Mind”

3. Cynthia Crosson-Tower, Confronting Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse, Thousand Oaks, California : SAGE Publications, Inc., 2015
4. From the U.S. Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Violence against Women: A National Crime Victimization Survey Report, January 1994.”
5. Rape Abuse & Incest National Network

About Judy M. Goodman

Freelance writer, aspiring novelist, and board member of Jane Stories Press Foundation.
This entry was posted in blogging, feminism, hobgoblins, powerlessness, psychology, violence, women. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cranky Women

  1. drgeraldstein says:

    Thanks, Judy, for linking to my article. I fear, however, that your readers might get the impression I’ve said a good deal about women in this essay, which I have not. I made no statement about natural childbirth to suggest men might die from it (you have not quoted me here, but, I’m concerned some might get the sense I commented on the difficulty of childbirth for men vs. women, an impossible comparison, as we both know). My post is virtually entirely about the depression and rage found in elderly men. A particularly significant piece of information I cited is the following: “Data from the American Association of Suicidology indicates the elderly made up only 13% of the population as of 2010, but accounted for 15.6% of all suicides. Moreover, men over 65 committed 84% of suicides by seniors, and this percentage grew as they aged.” I suggest your followers read my piece in full to determine whether I have said anything unfair to females. I certainly agree with the awfulness of child sexual abuse or sexual abuse of any kind, no matter the gender of the victim.

    • Judy M. Goodman says:

      I’m sorry if I did not make it clear that I was not contradicting any point of your article other than your assertion that females don’t go through at least a phase in which they feel invulnerable or immortal. The assertion that just because women don’t share that feeling or feelings of inadequacy at the onslaught of age does not take into consideration how women are socialized. Perhaps the remark about men and natural childbirth was was an ill-thought out attempt to lighten the mood a bit — a fault I inherited from my father. If it was at all offensive, I apologize.

      I will edit the essay to suggest that readers read your very insightful article. You’ve offered important insights into the male psyche as well as making suggestions which are beneficial to all humans.

      • drgeraldstein says:

        Thanks, Judy. No need to apologize. I know you well enough to recognize no ill will was intended. To clarify my own words, I’m sure there are some women who do have the feeling of invulnerability and immortality more commonly associated with men. And, I agree that socialization plays its part in gender differences. I hope I conveyed the sense that women, at least by the time they reach old age, are the more resilient sex. I think the suicide data I cited supports this. In any case, many thanks for your thoughtful reply to my comment and, as I said in the reply, for linking to my post. I hope you, or some other women, might wish to take on the issue I did not address: the particular difficulties women might face in the course of aging. Some of these are well known, of course, but I’m sure others would be important to hear about.

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