Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Anger Doesn't Help

It is very easy to get angry with men, particularly if you're Single. (If you're married, you're mostly tempted to get mad at just one.)

And nowadays we're practically trained to get angry with men. Even if our mothers treated our fathers with patience, good-humour and affection, there is the television with its dumb ("Raymond"), venal ("Barney") or utterly conceited and self-absorbed ("Sheldon") male characters being screamed at by attractive, savvy, eye-rolling women. The laugh track sympathizes with the women. Ah-ha-HA-HA-HA-ha-ha-chuckle-snort.

Of course, men get angry with women, too, and most women find men like that scary. Really scary. One angry man characterized women as having something that men want but not giving it to them. Why won't women give it to them? What do men have to do to get women to give it to them?

However, when I get beyond my disgust and horror at the idea of angry men being angry because they want sex, damn it, and no woman is giving it to them, it occurs to me that women sometimes get angry at men for something similar: I want X, and only men can give me X, and why won't one give me X, and what do I have to do to get X?

I know there are other reasons to get angry with men, although I prefer to remind myself that although most violent criminals are men, most men are not violent criminals. I also remind myself that men aren't women, and so don't think like us, or know what we know. It occurs to me, too, that although there has been intense theological debate as to whether "women were made to help men", the idea that "men were made to help women" does not date before 1978, except in the thoughts of an up-and-coming Polish philosopher named Karol Wojtyła.

I think about how women are terrified of angry men, but then I think of how men are terrified of angry women, although not as terrified as they were when they were boys. God knows how many women abuse their children. There was a case here in the UK so recent and so horrible that I can't bear to write about it. Let's just say it was so horrible, I had trouble sleeping and I asked God why he gave children to women like that and not to me. The reminder of the female capacity for violence against people smaller and weaker than ourselves, to say nothing of the appalling number of *bort*ns, can teach us to be humble where we least expect to need humility.

I have written this story many times before, but I think anger at men is such a problem for Single women that I will write it yet again.

Many years ago when I was feeling particularly angry with men, I wrote a list of all my beliefs about men. All of them--that they preferred women who were dumb, that most of them would rape women if they could get away with it, etc., etc. Then on the other side, the right side, of the page, I wrote the exact opposite--that they preferred women who were smart, and most of them were horrified by rape, etc., etc. And I realized, that the statements on the right side of the page were just as likely true as those on the left side. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized the right side probably was true.

This realization very much helped me feel better about men and to lose my life-long resentment of men. And this in turn seemed to help me to meet better men. Not always, of course, and seeing how much privilege men get (e.g. Jesuit classmates in Jesuit colleges funded mostly by the tuitions of non-Jesuits) made staying resentment-free, and therefore bad-men-free, a challenge. A continuing challenge, of course, is that men do occasionally behave very badly or say very hurtful things. However, I understand that to get along with men, and to attract good men, and to repel men who are rather more bad than good, it is necessary to like men, to cut the good ones some slack for not thinking or behaving just like women, and to pray for them.

Anger won't turn men into the Princes Charming. Constructive anger, carefully controlled, may help propel you into better, fairer treatment at work, in school, and in committed relationships. But it won't help you get the love and children you want. Just as women can sense and are afraid of the anger in men, men can sense and are afraid of the anger in women.


anonymous for this post said...

This is a timely post. I have been pretty angry lately, mostly because of the stress of work, but it leads me to become angry at other things, among them my mom who hasn't really done anything wrong. I used to never get angry and now I'm angry a lot. I think if I change jobs, that will help immensely. But I also tend to think, I'm a girl, it's ok if I get angry. It's not ok if boys get angry, but its ok if I get angry. Your post is a nice wake-up call that that's not necessarily true.

Also, I feel like I've always had this capacity for anger, but I've never given myself permission to let it fester before now. Time to gain some self-control. It really makes me worry about what kind of mother I will be. :(

Seraphic said...

Anger is often okay. Anger can be your brain telling you something is seriously wrong. Thomas Aquinas wrote on the virtue of anger

Misplaced anger and real simmering rage, however, aren't okay. Thomas Aquinas wrote on the vice of wrath!

If you're getting angry at your poor old mom (or even men in general), then yup--something else is wrong, and in your case, it does sound like it's your work. Time to see what it is exactly that is making you so mad and change it.

Seraphic said...

And do not despair. You might become the sort of mother who says, "I am very angry right now, but it's not because of you. It's because

-- I forget that you're only four, not grown-up like me, and I am behaving irrationally

-- someone at work said something mean to me and I'm disappointed

-- it's because I wish I had more money/time/a pony

TRS said...

I get angry more with society than I do with men.
Though I do recall being a bit terrified to date, because I knew that men would do anything ( horrible violent things) to get sex, based on the rape and murder of my 23 year old sister when I was 15 years old.

I think, as a result, I developed a deep interest in sociology/ psychology to understand how people work... Then I would point out how men do certain things and women do certain things.. Which was mistaken by some as hatred for men, when actually, I was giving allowances to men because I better understood why they behaved the way they do.
You know, you just can't win. Everyone wants to criticize. :-)

Seraphic said...

Well, TRS, I'm very sorry to read that that happened to your sister and that you had such a terrible loss at such a young age. I can see why you would have been terrified to date.

I'm going to stop comments here today. Although I've had letters from rape survivors and HIV sufferers, this is the first time murder has been mentioned in the combox, and I need to process that.