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Friday, July 27, 2007

Weekly Ponder


1. Men and women who exist in relationships have a tendency to provoke anxiety, anger, insecurity, hurt feelings, etc. in each other.

2. All people have unique methods of dealing with/expressing those emotions. There may be some gender-based commonalities however. For example, men seem to gravitate toward fight or flight responses (i.e. blow up at the person or run away from the situation.)

3. Men are much more likely to commit acts of domestic violence (for a variety of reasons including socialization, access to power, relative physical strength, capacity for physical violence, desire to be "in control" of situations, etc.)

4. As a reasonable and responsible man, I don't ever want to commit acts of violence (domestic or otherwise.) Therefore, I push myself to exorcise my anger and frustration in non-violent ways.

5. I have recently learned that an act of avoidance (e.g. running away from a potential fight) is perceived by some as an act of violence! I have justified "flight behavior" in the past because it seemed intuitively that neither party can be hurt by it. However, that relies on my sense that we are individuals with inalienable responsibility for own self-care. If I instead viewed our human relationships as more important entities than our individual selves... it leads me to the conclusion that avoidance can be a violent act toward those relationship bonds.

If this is true, what is the appropriate method for expressing/exercising anger as a man? Do we just choose the lesser of evils? Do we indulge our pent-up anger, but attempt to do so in prearranged, sanctioned ways? What do you, the Stave It Off readership, do?

Late Update:
I realize that step 5 is where I lose most people. It is a very unintuitive leap... and I'm not sure I agree with it completely myself. It's requires you to consider the possibility that the bonds of a relationship have a value that is equal to our own sense of self (ego definition.) And that is a radical position to take. Most of the people I know would never devalue their sense of self enough to take this position seriously. And it's okay if that's how you feel... you can still contribute an answer to the question.



At 7/28/2007 07:59:00 AM, Blogger soapysteve said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7/28/2007 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Not had enough caffeine to make this more than a extemporaneous and shallow response but I think that I have to disagree with you that running away from a fight is a bad tactic or that it is a violent act. It can be just what is needed for both sides to have breathing space from each other.

Maybe it can be used as a strategy by what have been termed passive-aggressive personalities (and be aimed at frustrating and angering the other) but if it is an 'actively-aggressive person' (?) that avoids an overtly aggressive reaction, then it would seem to be preferable to most other ways of dealing with anger or frustration.

Now comes the trite part: maybe the issue is more to deal with ingrained behaviors? Is it inevitable that there is conflict? Probably. Do we always have to react in the same way? Probably not.

Is it reasonable to expect to be allowed to express your divergence from your partner? Yes. Does that have to be done by getting angry? No.

But we are all human. However, anyone who pledges not to use acts of violence (though only domestic ones?) is to be applauded.

Hope to see you soon maybe to carry on the discussion in person?

At 7/28/2007 06:59:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

I also disagree that an act of avoidance...or merely refusing to escalate the argument...is an act of violence. It is an act of deflection. It might well be a sin of omission, but to declare it an act of violence is Orwellian.

It is clearly not violent. It is the opposite of.

Now, if you choose to "argue" in a completely rational manner (ala, a Vulcan), then it is not an argument, it is a discussion--and that can be just as frustrating to someone who is so desperate for a fight that they would allow themselves to label running away as an act of violence.

How do we, as men, sublimate our aggressions? By finding ways to screw our fellow man, I imagine. Poker, for example (heh) I've been told that to just contain our anger, hold it in and let it fester, is not healthy. It has to be released in some way or we pile it on and turn into self-loathing victims of learned helplessness. Not a way to live. And since we don't go out stalking elephants for food anymore, we have to find other ways to sublimate it.

Physical activity of SOME kind will work it off--but I suppose going off to d THAT can be percieved as an act of violence, too.

Rather a trap, that thinking. I have a lot more to say, but I'll save that for a time when we can get together and talk about it.

At 7/28/2007 11:20:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Well, I hope to get to talk to you guys in person before long, since your responses are interesting.

Not sure why Soapy deleted his comment... I hope he reposts, since I value his input too.

I added a "late edit" to my post after thinking about what you guys are saying. Since there's an obvious crux of disagreement, I wanted to clarify where I was coming from a bit.

At 7/29/2007 01:23:00 AM, Blogger soapysteve said...

What? What's all this girly man mess now? You want us to hold your hand, Johnboi? What kind of real man asks for advice on venting anger? You want permission and some kind of instruction manual, son? Ain't you never seen the Incredible Hulk? Well what exactly does Hulk do? HULK SMASH!!! And Hulk feel pretty good afterwards!

This is a great subject to kindle in person. As someone who exists in a state of near-constant anger, I have struggled with your question many times. I believe that any method that doesn't hurt other people is appropriate for venting. (Unless they want you to hurt them in a mutual hurting agreement a la Fight Club.)

Venting through art is probably the best way to vent, if there is a best way. Channeling anger creatively - like in writing or music or whatever - can enhance prolificity, assuming you capitalize on it when it strikes. It's like a shot of nitrous in the creative engine.

Other venting methods, let's see... Sometimes I just sit around and seethe, cooking eggs on my face. Or I go to the gym. Or I wander the streets screaming "SPARTAAAAAA!" Inanimate objects are always up for a good knuckling. Especially the ones that mock me with their silence.

I appreciate your use of the words "exercising anger." You could have said "exorcising," but that would have made you a girly man.


I thought my original comment avoided your question, and would therefore be taken as an act of violence. :)

Seriously, I knew you wanted an answer to the "how to vent" question, not a lesson in how to make points flow more logically, so my original comments were a waste of time. But since you asked...

Muhammad Ali didn't successfully pummel George Foreman's face by avoiding him, or by walking away. A boxing commentator would never have said, "and Foreman is wobbling against the ropes, Ali's avoidance is simply unstoppable folks, and again a furious hail of jabs to Foreman's head, Ali continuing to ignore his opponent by, well, looking right at him and punching him..."

Violence requires turbulent pacing - there is no slow violence. It also requires volume and bombast - there is no meek, tentative violence. Violence means chaos - there is no orderly, cordial violence. Orderly violence is called dancing! :) If you calmly and silently walk away from someone for whatever reason, you are not doing anything violent. You may be guilty of being a jerk by not addressing an issue, and avoidance may be damaging or unhealthy to a relationship, but that's far from violent behavior.

As for domestic violence - I've never seen a police officer breaking up an awful scene of domestic violence where two people were facing away from each other in total silence, with no shouting or striking or waving of weaponry involved. There's nothing violent about someone ignoring someone else. By that standard cats and fish are extremely violent because they ignore most of what people do.

At 7/29/2007 05:00:00 PM, Blogger Jon said...

I saw this review and immediately thought of Soapy for some reason:

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful:
Netgear continues to disappoint, April 1, 2007
By E. Smith (Cambridge, MA USA) - See all my reviews

I've had bad experiences with Netgear in the past, but when I moved into my new place, I needed something I could pick up on short notice and this was all they had (Staples). I optimistically hoped to be proven wrong and thought maybe this router would be good.

And it is - the router is fantastic, for the 30-45 minutes it is working between crashes. But unfortunately, it is those crashes that make this thing useless.

It is one thing for it to be passively useless, but this takes it one step further and is actively annoying on top of it. The flashing blue lights are awful - if you have it out in the open, be sure to get something to cover the lights, otherwise you will go crazy.

I will say two good things about this router:
1) the crashes seem to be more related to the wireless functionality, and if you are plugged into the unit, it usually still works while the wireless functionality is toast

2) it feels great to smash this thing to bits with your fists and watch the blue lights stop working, during one of its regular down periods when you can't get any work done due to this thing sucking.
If you can afford it, I highly recommend buying one of these, plugging it in and getting the lights going, and then just beating it until the lights are dead - it is a really satisfying feeling.
Unfortunately it is prohibitively expensive for such things, and if accidentally used for its intended purpose of being a wireless router, it may get in the way of an otherwise productive day.

If you rely on your net connection for getting your work done - avoid this router. Also, if you have epilepsy, avoid this router.

If you have deep pockets and like to break stuff, please buy up the supply of these things and clear the market from this trash - and then destroy them all.

Comment | Was this review helpful to you?

At 7/29/2007 09:48:00 PM, Blogger soapysteve said...


Survey excerpt, May 2006:

22) If you won the lottery, what would you do first?

Terminate my agreement with Verizon and pay their $185 early termination fee. Then I'd go to the Verizon kiosk at the mall and say "I need to buy a new phone" and pick one out and sign another agreement. Then I'd take a picture with my snazzy new camera phone, a picture of the salesperson smiling at me. Then I'd say to him, "You know what? This is what I think of you." and then hurl the phone into the floor at high velocity and watch it shatter into a million pieces. Then I'd politely say to the shocked salesperson, "Well it looks like my phone suffered an early termination. Do you guys charge, like, an early termination fee?" Then I'd ask for a new phone. Repeat if possible. When security finally ejected me from the mall, I'd drive to another mall and do it all over again, seeing how many phones I could destroy before nightfall.

At 7/30/2007 11:51:00 AM, Blogger John said...

Exorcizing anger involves spinning your head around 360 degrees doesn't it?!

I'd rather just walk it off or do some kind of exercise... it's hard to be mad when you're sweaty and tired.

You guys have mentioned some of the classic methods... like "displaced anger"... i.e. kicking your chair when you're actually mad at your refrigerator. And sublimating your anger... like taking intentionally unflattering photos of women in order to express your misogyny in a creative (if passive-agressive) way.

Something I'm trying to work on instead: realizing when I'm getting angry and attempting to immediately identify what is currently hurting me and admitting outloud that I've been hurt.

The angriest impulses I've ever felt are when I get hit in the head (often by lousy frickin' stupid doorframes or kitchen cabinets.) Those provoke instant "HULK SMASH" feelings. I do some deep breathing and get over it. So if pain is a major source of anger, perhaps psychological pain is responsible for other anger I have felt. Recognizing and naming that pain seems to free me from some of the anger reaction. I've got to keep working on it though.

At 7/30/2007 11:54:00 AM, Blogger John said...

Addendum to my last comment:
It's easy to get over the anger of hitting your head because it's very clear what caused the pain.

I think it's harder to get over the anger I feel due to complex psychological issues... perhaps because it's harder to identify (or harder to admit to) the source of pain.

At 7/30/2007 08:26:00 PM, Anonymous mel said...

A few years back I was reading a book about how to help your teenage son through those years, it was an interesting read on a number of levels.

One of the things it talked about was that teenage girls are much more advanced....can't remember the exact wording....yet it was a more positive way of saying more advanced in emotional manipulation. This put them at a huge advantage to the teen males, especially in verbal combat or just any intense talking times.

The book also talked about research using MRI's while men and women are talking about emotional subjects. Men's brains light up mainly in one section, while women's light up in multiple places. Both may have just as deep feelings about what they are talking about, it is just women process it in more places, while men are more focused. It made me laugh when I read this, as that is often how I have experienced conversations about emotional subjects.

I bring this up as I wonder if some of the ways some men learn avoidance instead of staying in an argument and being able to hold it together, is earlier learned frustration in situations their brain wiring and hormones might put them at a disadvantage to others who can articulate emotional subjects from numerous angles.


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