Thursday, October 21, 2010

"female trouble"

Hmmm. So I've been up most of the night studying for my midterms in Abnormal Psychology, Psychology 10, and Theories of Personality. By "studying" I mean eating garlic bread, chocolate, and popcorn; making several pots of tea; cleaning the floor on my hands and knees with baby wipes; doing the laundry; signing my son up for violin lessons; ordering art supplies over the internet; planting fall peas in the garden; and washing dishes. So, as you can see, studying is extremely productive for me.

The recent incessant rains have had some interesting consequences. The damp seems to have weakened the plaster of the walls of the 12x12 such that all the screws in the wall are falling out. This led to my bookshelf falling over and spewing its contents all over the floor, bedding, kitchen, you name it. I have not had a free 30 seconds to clear a trail through the carnage since it happened 3 nights ago. My house looks like a bomb hit it. (I mean, more so than usual, and I can't blame it on the kids.) So I've been sleeping in a little ball surrounded by books, pens, rocks, and little bits of houseplant. According to my textbook, this behavior might qualify as "abnormal".

But, according to my textbook, that's to be expected, since I am a "woman", and "women", again according to my textbook, are disproportionately likely to be "abnormal". Yes, we are TWO TIMES MORE LIKELY to experience depression than men and THREE TIMES MORE LIKELY to attempt suicide. Cross-culturally. Also, we have special little syndromes that are ours alone, like PMS, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis...

Several theories are proposed for why this might be. I find them fascinating. Here goes:
1) Men are not diagnosed with depression as often because they hide it behind aggression, which is more socially acceptable.
2) Frequent changes in hormones might predispose women to maladaptive behavior.
3) women experience more stress than men: we are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to do menial work, likely to face more discrimination, and also there's that whole childbearing and childrearing thing, though they DON'T MENTION THIS.
4) body dissatisfaction, or the constant rumination over appearance, is a stressor that affects women disproportionately; this is a habit that is encouraged rather than dissuaded by societal norms.
5) women are statistically more likely to blame themselves for difficulties and attribute successes to others, whereas men tend to the reverse. Thus women tend to direct their stress responses inward whereas men direct them outward, in aggression.

These are all theories, so of course there are lots of problems and over-generalizations, but the thing that struck me the most was how extraordinarily little control any of them give a woman to change things. Let's see, we can't stop having hormones. We can't stop being the ones that have children and only make 76 cents to the dollar. There's not much we can do about societal expectations and judgments based on appearance. What we CAN do, according to these geniuses, is a) try to be less sad for goodness' sake and b) start blaming others for our problems.

Or we can curl into a ball amongst the books and pottery with our middle fingers firmly in the air and get some sleep. We're going to need it.


  1. OMG, Dweller, you are brilliant!
    EVERYONE who is coolandfemale needs to read that post.
    What a night, right?
    F'n can't believe we are not "working" together today so we can talk about it, but I do have your vegetables so I might have to escape to your 12"x 12" at some point...

  2. Very insightful and perceptive as well. I find hormones to be incredibly powerful and influential. I especially notice this since being pregnant and a mom... Of course the other reasons you mentioned might also be a factor... Ugh! I need to be a man in my next life!

  3. Thank you Dweller! Fantastic insights and "facts"! I agree with Laura, you're (abnormally) brilliant. :)
    xo t