Express your anger

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of

I recently came across an article from the Medical Faculty at the University of Oslo. The psychiatrist Alexandra Naletova wrote about women’s mental health and suicide. There are interesting differences between the sexes in this area too.

The prevalence of severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are similar in both sexes. Maybe that’s expected because it’s a matter of innate genes that contribute to developing the disease. However, there are some other diseases that anyone can develop. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders and PTSD occurs more often in women than in men. Among men, however, there is greater incidence of dependency disorders and personality disorders.

According to Naletova more men than women die by suicide, while there are more women who attempt to take their own lives. The author suggests that the difference may be that women more often seek help and are better at talking about feelings, not to mention that they have an important role in family care.

That is possible, but the figures show that women more frequently than men need to seek help. I wonder if the “nice girl” and “nice boy” syndrome play a part in this. By that I mean that in our society it is generally seen as a bad thing to show anger, especially for women. Right from childhood we are told that no one likes troublemakers, and that is what you are if you object. Men can often do it without being criticized, in the corporate world for example (within certain limits of course), but women have a lot less leeway. I know about several women who are seen as troublemakers and instable because they express their opinions forcefully. All equality notwithstanding, there are certain things the equality laws cannot change. It seems to me that the laws have reduced discrimination, but attitudes haven’t changed as much.

Liv Signe Navarsete is a minster in the Norwegian government. She got a lot of attention one time after a meeting where the politicians had discussed whether or not they were going to close down a hospital. A woman who was lobbying for the hospital accused Navarsete of failing her own people. This made Navarsete angry. This clip is in Norwegian, but I think you can pick up a certain resentment.

Is this a problem? The politician was angry, but there was nothing questionable about her apologia. I started with an old English nursery rhyme from the early 1800’s. I suspect there still is some truth in it. We expect a certain behaviour. Women should be sweet, not aggressive. Men should be firm captains and show no hesitation as they maneuver the ship. That also means expressing anger. As I recall, Margaret Thatcher wasn’t exactly a kitten. Do women really have to be either a kitten or an iron woman?

There was an interesting discrepancy when I googled “women express anger”. In Norwegian some of the results on the first page offered women advice on how to control their anger, while in English there were more results on the importance of expressing it appropiately. I don’t think it’s any healthier for women to suppress anger than it is for men. That can lead to muscletensions, depression and self esteem issues. What we need to learn is fitting ways of expressing these emotions.

This clip shows someone who could find better ways of getting his message across. A journalist is trying to interview a local politician in the Misiones province in Argentina. The politician argues about whether or not the journalist has any right to interview him in the first place. The trouble starts around 2:20 into the video.

Finally an example of an Italian football coach. Trapattoni worked in Germany some years ago and everyone respected him.


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