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Sorry about the lack of posting - I'm either having a resurgence of withdrawal symptoms, or I have the flu.  The symptoms are remarkably similar, so I really can't tell.  In the end, it doesn't matter, since I'm glued to the sofa and too tired to move either way.  Blech.

I need to learn not to read serious books when I'm feeling crappy, because they just make me more depressed.  But, I still haven't learned my lesson, so I read Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin, and now I'm reading Odd Girl Out: The hidden culture of aggression in girls, by Rachel Simmons.  They are both valuable books to read, but they're a bit anger-inducing for someone in my *cough* delicate state.

I get angry easily, but I don't know how to deal with it, so I tend to stifle until I can't stand it, and then scare Bob when I explode in private.  I've experienced a lot to be angry about over the years (as have most people), but, like most women, I was taught that anger is a "bad" emotion, one that I shouldn't be feeling if I wanted to be a "good" girl.  Anger scares people.  Angry women make everyone uncomfortable, and the cry goes up that everyone should "just get along", so nothing ever gets resolved - at least in my experience.

Odd Girl Out explores this dichotomy between being a "good girl" and the perfectly normal emotion of anger, and how girls will hide their aggression under sweet smiles and non-physical bullying that they won't get called on.  Punch someone, and you're a "bad girl".  Shun them and start evil rumours, on the other hand, and you can preserve the facade of being a "good girl".  In a society that deeply disapproves of aggression in girls, Simmons argues (I think rightly), that though it's incredibly destructive, this is the "approved" way, and is even considered normal, so nothing is done about it.  She also argues (also rightly) that this is wrong.

(I find it evil and misogynistic to think of girls as being naturally twisted and cruel, but considering all the negative traits that have been laid at women's feet over the millennia, I am not particularly surprised.)

But reading the stories of girls who are still sufering as adults from the trauma of their school years, I feel great anger for them.  I know how they feel.

In the SCA (you knew we'd get here; admit it), we have built up a public facade of "niceness" (we call it "courtesy", but what we mean is niceness), which publicly disapproves of anger, but refuses to ever deal with it.  If someone reacts to the constant undermining and petty high school politics that seem to permeate every group, they are told they're the bad guy for making waves, while the real bully goes unpunished.  It seems a shame to allow this juvenile behaviour to continue to traumatize people into adulthood, but until we actually call people on the carpet as a consequence of their undermining, we will continue to punish the victims, and allow the perpetrators to walk off, scot-free.

But I'm just mentioning that; it's not actually the focus of what I was thinking about.  Too often, as victims of smear campaigns and gossip mongering, the victim begins to wonder if they really did do something wrong.  In my case, I spent a long time in self-examination, and came up with nothing that would remotely warrant the kind of attacks I received.  Next, I spent several years making speeches in my head, imagining what I would say to the people involved.  Then, I realized that speaking would change nothing; the people involved would refuse to hear me, even if I was yelling it in their ears.  I came to the point where I stopped blaming myself, and mostly stopped brooding over their behaviour, but I kept wondering what would have happened if I had stood up to them, instead of simply removing myself from their presence.

And it's only this last weekend thanks to reading these books, that I've made what I hope is my final step to putting aside a long and painful five years of my life; I am finally close to the point where I can forgive myself for not acting with perfect hindsight.  I didn't react the way I would have liked; I didn't say what I "should" have said to shut people down from their bullying, and I wasted far too much time trying to make them see that I am a perfectly nice and reasonable person.  There are a lot of things I should have done (in every situation that has been bad for me, I can see exactly what I sould have done in hindsight, but at the time, I was usually too stunned to react), but in the end, what I did wasn't bad, it just wasn't perfect.

I think there's a lot of pressure on women today to be absolutely perfect at everything. Failure is seen as complete; not a little bump in the road, but a derailment. The person in the mirror must be brilliant and beautiful and talented; anything less is nothing.  And we internalize this pressure, and bring it to bear on ourselves when others attack.  The first thing that goes through my mind is "what did I do wrong?", not "Lord help me, those fuckers are childish".  I think I need to balance that out more.  The same goes for anyone in the SCA who has received this kind of hate; "taking the high road" is all well and good so far as it goes, but it leaves half the equation unsolved.  I am going to go out against the common wisdom here, and say this:  You don't have to forgive the people that pulled that crap, but you also don't need to punish them; they will take care of that all by themselves (be patient; I've seen it happen).  You need to forgive yourself for not managing the situation perfectly.  When you forgive yourself, you can finally move on.

And never again trust those assholes as far as you can throw them.

I'm sorry; this entry would be a lot more coherent, but I've run out of energy to type.
 

Comments

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_medb_
Feb. 19th, 2009 03:51 pm (UTC)
I definitely agree. Sometimes rocking the boat has to be done to make things better but unfortunately the person who does so is usually branded a trouble-maker. I have a close friend who's done so in the past few years, yet she has yet to recieve any sort of public thank you for her extensive SCA volunteering (all she wants is a verbal one on an e-list or two, or perhaps mention in the kingdom newsletter- she actually hates going up for awards). Due to that and a few other things relating to petty politics, she's very ready to quit the SCA for good, and although my laurel is planning on trying to help fix a few things and hopefully entice her to stay with the SCA, I'm doubtful at this point. Considering she's saved a particular group's butts several times in the past year due to being a pest, you'd think that people would actually appreciate what she's done. Sigh.
fabricdragon
Feb. 19th, 2009 04:06 pm (UTC)
oh heavens NO. that would imply that they needed saving....
grrrrrrrrrr
(no subject) - _medb_ - Feb. 19th, 2009 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grian_ruadh - Feb. 19th, 2009 04:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nicolaa5 - Feb. 20th, 2009 01:23 am (UTC) - Expand
etinterrapax
Feb. 19th, 2009 03:55 pm (UTC)
About having to be perfect, God, yes. When I left my Ph.D. program, I really struggled with that; I still do. For a while, I was able to make my peace with it, but then people ask you how it's going, and you realize they didn't know you left, and you have to tell them about it. My best friend's mother, at that time, hears this, and I'm telling her about it in what I felt were positive terms (new baby, goal adjustment, practicality), and she bursts out with, "Oh, dear, you shouldn't feel like a failure!" Well a) I didn't, until she said that, because I didn't fucking fail; and b) one of the most unhinged people I know is implying that I'm a failure?

But the truth is that the older I've gotten, and the less I have a career, the more of a failure I've felt. Did we do this to ourselves? Did we make feminism such an imperative that unless a woman is going full throttle in all areas of her life at all times, she has failed herself and all other women? Because I'm tired just thinking about that. I'm tired because I have two jobs and grad school and a kid, and I'm tired because we work our asses off to make half as much money as people with half as much education as we have, and I'm tired because I know I'm really just at the beginning of all of it. Never mind actually looking good. I'm pleased when I leave the house and look like I actually had a house to leave. As long as my husband thinks I'm okay, that's as good as it gets. Until I have to face seeing my ex-best friend at our twentieth reunion, because I'll be goddamned if she's going to see me fat and less than perfect, in addition to poor. Hmph.
florentinescot
Feb. 19th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
Did we do this to ourselves? Did we make feminism such an imperative that unless a woman is going full throttle in all areas of her life at all times, she has failed herself and all other women?

Yes, I believe that we did. If you're not SuperMom and SuperCareerWoman, you suck.
alinore
Feb. 19th, 2009 03:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for this. I have also been the recipient of having someone I thought was my friend suddenly turn on me during a painful point in my real life. I spent months and months trying to figure out what it was that I did, when after talking to other people, I finally figured out it wasn't me, it was her. Of course, once I figured that out it still took years (and I am still in the process) of dealing with the nasty lies that she chose to tell people about during her process of making herself the victim.

I am sad that this is evidently a society wide problem though. It would be nice to think that mine was an isolated case.
maricelt
Feb. 19th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)
It's funny how the universe talks to us...
Wow. I've been having all kinds of messages along similar lines recently. And last night something gelled that I just hadn't seen before. And now there is this to help clarify some of the points. Thank you. Thank you very much.

ETA: Oh, almost forgot. I hope you feel better very soon.

Edited at 2009-02-19 04:31 pm (UTC)
fabricdragon
Feb. 19th, 2009 04:04 pm (UTC)
seems pretty coherant to me....

as someone whose anger usually turns inward..... yeah. its an issue.. and yeah i still have flashbacks from school.

more later when i feel more coherant
(Deleted comment)
grian_ruadh
Feb. 19th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
As someone who stuck my neck way out to shield my branch from legally actionable stupid on the part of the then Baron and Baroness and who got thoroughly shit on for the effort, I hear you. I nearly did quit the SCA completely after that. I finally learned to let go of all of it, forgive myself for not handling it perfectly, and the SCA has started to become fun for me again.

There's also this really great book. It's called The Sonoma Method. If you're having some trouble with the letting go thing, I highly recommend it.
gflower
Feb. 19th, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
Do you mean this: The Sedona Method

Looks like a good book, I might get it for my library!
(no subject) - grian_ruadh - Feb. 19th, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gflower - Feb. 19th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
elfie_chan
Feb. 19th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC)
*hugs* I hope you feel better soon.

I, too, hold my anger in, but not for long. I tend to talk to Alex about it in private as soon as possible, and he helps me do the examination part. (You are angry. Why are you angry? Is it because of what just happened, or is what just happened one more thing on top of lots of other things? Now, is there anything you can do about the situation?) I find that I am usually completely justified in being angry, or at least vexed.

I'm also finding Laurellen's phrase "Not My Chicken!" very helpful. It's taken me a long time to realize that it is not my job to make sure that everyone (including all of my friends) is happy and gets along. They have to do that themselves.

We are taught to "be nice." I'm really good at it. Unfortunately, being happy and nice all the time makes it difficult for others to take me seriously, I think.

Sorry about the mini-rant. What I'm trying to say is that I totally get what you're saying and I hope you feel better very, very soon.
grian_ruadh
Feb. 19th, 2009 06:05 pm (UTC)
Anyone who fails to take you seriously plainly does not know you at all. The fact that you are happy and sweet-tempered pretty much all the time just makes you lovely to be around. :)
czina
Feb. 19th, 2009 04:45 pm (UTC)
"In the SCA (you knew we'd get here; admit it), we have built up a public facade of "niceness" (we call it "courtesy", but what we mean is niceness), which publicly disapproves of anger, but refuses to ever deal with it."

I'm reminded of the witch in 'Into the Woods': "You're so nice. You're not good, you're not bad, you're just NICE. I'm not good, I'm not nice, I'm just right. I'm the witch; you're the world"

Sometimes it is necessary to be 'The Witch' and be RIGHT, even when it's not nice/good. Unfortunately, 'The World' doesn't do well with people being right, sometimes.

Hope you feel better :)
grian_ruadh
Feb. 19th, 2009 05:40 pm (UTC)
Oh here, have some Witchy straight-talk featuring the magnificent Bernadette Peters. :)

judithsewstoo
Feb. 19th, 2009 05:03 pm (UTC)
Heh. Rule #1: the only thing I'm perfect at is being me. All others are temporary states. ;)

Holding in anger can lead to serious health problems such as ulcers, heart attacks and strokes. I've learned over time to let it out in non-destructive ways. Believe me, when I was letting it out in destructive ways, I ended up only hurting my hands (yeah, I used to punch cinder-block walls - the flash of pain was enough to dissolve the anger). But then, I grew up as a tomboy.

I have an ex-husband who is a Laurel, and when we were going through the break-up, I found out who my real friends were. Now, other people are learning what I know about him by his own actions (and speech). As I say, living better now than I did with him is the best revenge - 'cause I could care less about him, his opinions or what he has to say either to me (extremely rare) or about me (much less these days).

In the few seconds before you respond to a situation, *you* can make the choice about how you're going to react.

Hang in there and get better soonest!

Refer back to rule #1. ;)
eggies_red_dres
Feb. 19th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)
This phenomena has made me extremely wary of people who profess what a hard time they are having about any issue. The more they explain the ins and outs of difficulties, and the less time I've known them the red flag is bigger and bigger any more. The more someone paints themselves a victim, I'm sure their accurate description comes from the miles of bodies they've watched writhing in their wake.

I'm sure you don't intend to with your posts, but it's like you get people off the hook for being too nice in the past, and off the hook for being victimized, for internalizing. It's really impressive because I could send complete strangers to your style of writing to this post, and I think it would have an equally liberating effect. Speaking from the heart is amazingly coherent in your case.

I hope you're feeling better soon.
attack_laurel
Feb. 19th, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)
*sniffle* Thaks. You really brought tears to my eyes. :)
(no subject) - eggies_red_dres - Feb. 19th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
jljonsn
Feb. 19th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
Courtesy = Minnesota Nice
Ever hear of the term "Minnesota Nice"? It applies broadly to upper midwesterners, and is similar to what I've seen many in the SCA apply as Courtesy.

From Wiki: "Minnesota nice is the stereotypical behavior of long-time Minnesota residents to provide hospitality and courtesy to others. The term is also sometimes used in a derogatory way, to connote a sort of smiling stubbornness, forced politeness, false humility or passive aggressive hostility.

Stereotypes of Minnesotans often overlap with qualities of other people from the Upper Midwest, including the perception that many are quiet and do not wish to offend others or cause a disruption, even if it's for their own benefit. Writer Garrison Keillor played with this image in a piece written for the radio program A Prairie Home Companion called "Wobegonics", the supposed language of Minnesotans which includes "no confrontational verbs or statements of strong personal preference, you know."
jljonsn
Feb. 19th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Courtesy = Minnesota Nice
I'd post more about this, but I don't want to be a bother, don't cha know...
Re: Courtesy = Minnesota Nice - donal_mac_r - Feb. 19th, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Courtesy = Minnesota Nice - lorebubeck - Feb. 19th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Courtesy = Minnesota Nice - grian_ruadh - Feb. 19th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Southern Nice - maricelt - Feb. 19th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Southern Nice - donal_mac_r - Feb. 19th, 2009 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Southern Nice - grian_ruadh - Feb. 19th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Southern Nice - florentinescot - Feb. 19th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Southern Nice - grian_ruadh - Feb. 19th, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Southern Nice - rufinia - Feb. 19th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Courtesy = Minnesota Nice - gflower - Feb. 19th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
sircorby
Feb. 19th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
killing the messenger
This tendency for the person saying "the emperor has no clothes" (or whatever else) to be blamed is so pervasive in the SCA that I wonder if it is also endemic in other organizations.

I know I've had it happen to me. Rrrrrr.
attack_laurel
Feb. 19th, 2009 05:47 pm (UTC)
Re: killing the messenger
I think it's part of society; we just add the inflamed emotions of a million nerds to the mix. :)
Re: killing the messenger - lady_jem - Feb. 19th, 2009 08:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: killing the messenger - sstormwatch - Feb. 19th, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
morrghan92
Feb. 19th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
"Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die"

I was having a real problem accepting some issues going on in in my Barony. It was literally making me sick my mild cold became a sinus infection, that made me lose my hearing for about a day. I was describing the situation to my father and a coworker, both are out of the SCA, and both used the quote above, within a half an hour, across town from each other, having never met to my knowledge. I took this as a sign from the universe to release my death grip on my feelings, and lo and behold my "cold" got better.
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