Originally posted August 11, 2014, reviewed and revised in light of the current political climate
In his blog entry “Understanding Angry Old White Men” of August 10, 2014, 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, “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 a cogent 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.” Both men and women laugh; most men because they believe the description of women; women recognize the behavior of men. Still, it’s not really funny that a dismissive attitude toward women is an integral part of our culture.
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 something like effects of age, more often than not, fell on deaf male ears; if we were heard, we were subjected to degrading baby-talk or demoralizing vitriol. The point is, women are not “manning up,” but giving in: spending time, effort, and remarkably large sums on cosmetics, fashion, and elective surgery, just to fulfill society’s only expectation for women: to attract a man.
Though the women who are now sixty years and older have been counseled, 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 aspirations, some women have been blessed with the type of personality that allowed them to blaze trails through jungles 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 flush their potential down the toilet.
And, I can’t help thinking that familial abuse –so distressingly prevalent – figures into any tendency to feel vulnerable 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 much more were kept as tortuous secrets in the 40s and 50s5 — by men as well as women.
Without these influences, females might well think of themselves as indestructible. In fact, sometimes you just need to look at some of the self-destructive activities some women of all ages participated in before we were put in the position of having to unite, fighting for our very lives. Maybe now, we really do feel as immortal as our male counterparts did in their youth. Clearly, the male in the White House and his minions must be feeling particularly mortal these days. Why else would they need to eviscerate everyone else to feel successful?
Now, the ultra male, white supremacist administration wants to bomb women back to the stone age. To be fair, they are screwing up everyone, stripping the safeguards that protect the environment, keep the workplace safe, and help workers support themselves. Not to mention making good education for the masses harder to find.
We’re not better at accepting anything, we’ve just been annealed to the ravages of age — and males.
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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women
The girl from the Verizon Commercial
President Trump’s Misogynistic Hit Squad discussing the Future Of Women’s Health Care, sourced from many Facebook memes.
1. Dr. Gerald Stein: – “Blogging About Psychotherapy from Chicago”; http://drgeraldstein.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/understanding-angry-old-white-men
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 https://rainn.org/statistics