Those Crazy Bitches

Written by 

fakesmile

It’s more important to me that you like me than that you treat me with respect. I’d rather be contorted inside than make you uncomfortable. I will trade my dignity for your acceptance and I will not, under any circumstances, behave irrationally without later feeling deep shame at my failure to be understanding, compassionate and appropriate. My perspective is irrelevant, my needs are excessive, my boundaries are flimsy and my relentless vigilance to consider the impact that every move I make may have on you, without considering the great sacrifice that acquiescing is to my wellbeing is not something I should resent or even try to change because, after all, it shows that I am a good hearted woman.

 

This article is an exploration; a dive into women and anger, specifically the large part of the female population who have difficulty experiencing or expressing anger, who habitually go to more ‘appropriate’ or  ‘feminine’ emotions, dissociating from, repressing or bypassing their anger. Over the years I’ve been let in to the interior experiences of countless women, many of whom claim to rarely experience their anger or fear it terribly. We’ll explore some of the themes of these experiences, feeling into them from the inside, as well as look at some of our current and inherited cultural baggage around anger.

When looking around at the time we’re in on the planet, women have an incredible amount of power and freedom compared to our mother’s mothers. Where historically expressions of aggression or externalized anger didn’t fit with our station, one could argue that we are in a time when we have ample opportunity to express anger. In fact we can give a nod to many cycles of feminism for blazing paths fueled by fed up rage. I’m not suggesting in this piece that anger isn’t hotly expressed by some women, but I see it as still wholly unacceptable in our culture to express or even experience it. Is this simply the dregs of the past, not yet shaken from our evolutionary bushes? Or is there something else, themes specific to where we are in our current time? Some key themes that I see in our current culture that I want to explore that stand to reject or at least limit the space for anger in women are three archetypes that feel very alive and relevant for our time: Superwoman, Crazy Bitches and Beauty Queens.

Superwoman

superwoman

My potential is pulsing through me, veins throbbing, bright futures my heroine hit. I can be anything I want to be. I can do anything I want to do.  I climb ladders and hierarchies. I make grades and money, love and babies and I raise them alongside my standards for what’s possible. I can do anything a man can do.  I am unstoppable and passionate and the only one providing for me, is me. I don’t need support, I lift others along the way, my deep caring is untouchable, unconditional. I will make my foremothers proud by doing everything, everything their culture wouldn’t allow. And I will do it all while being calm, collected and smokin’ hot.

 

We’re in the age of the Everything Woman, the Superwoman. After generations of fighting against suppression and being confined to limited roles, women of the West enjoy the luxury of choice and opportunity. Yet while we have so many options, with our parents or teachers or culture telling us that the sky’s the limit and we can be whatever we want to be, there is rampant internalized pressure that we should do it all, be it all. Inside this massive space of expectation, anxiety and fear of failure can be engulfing as we try to find our way. Our way is often found through trying to meet particular standards and the standards of that of the Superwoman Archetype are unattainable.

As women find their way within roles that have been historically male, or in attempts to claim power and become successful, there is a draw to emulate traditionally masculine qualities. What I have seen in a lot of high functioning, successful women and experience within myself is a high need for rationality, clarity and conscious expression of emotions. While I feel quite deeply and am tuned in to the subtleties of my arising emotion and, for the most part, feel quite comfortable expressing these emotions where some may fear to tread, I also feel a lot of contraction and containment around what healthy expressions of emotion means, particularly when it comes to anger. When buying into the Superwoman archetype, the pressure to seriously have one’s shit together is huge. To experience or express an emotion that feels hot, uncontrollable or irrational conflicts greatly with this the identity of being mature, collected and on top of your game. Robert Masters points out the emotion vs. reason struggle as follows:

irrational“It is not uncommon to view emotions as being lower or more primitive than reason, doing little more than clouding the skies of rational thought, or muddying objectivity. Thinking clearly is thus often associated with dispassion, or a muting of our emotions; moral decisions are allegedly best made when passion and feeling are either “safely” out of the picture, or kept functionally peripheral to the decision-making process, much like children excluded or kept at a distance from parental discussion.

To view emotions as lower (or less reliable) than reason also has serious gender implications, femaleness being commonly associated with “getting emotional,” and maleness with being rational. This is roughly paralleled by those views that claim that the neocortex, associated with rational thought, is “higher” than the
phylogenetically older zones of the brain that supposedly “house” and deal with emotions- which implies that men, being supposedly more rational, are therefore more developed than women. “You’re being emotional!” remains more of a putdown than “You’re being rational!””

If we’re going to play like the big boys, we’d better learn to act like them. As much as there’s emerging leadership among women to bring something new in the way we show up in this world, part of trying to claim our small piece in a patriarchal society has, in many ways, been by emulating maleness, taking on more traditionally ‘masculine’ attributes such as agency, directionality and the ability to put emotion aside and get r done. But we’re still women, so add to this the cultural assumptions that anger and aggression is more male than female we end up a little stuck. While we can get as rational, logical and pragmatic as we want, when we start taking on traditionally ‘male’ expressions of anger or aggression it’s ‘whoa girl, no need to bring out the crazy bitch’.

Enter stage left…

The Crazy Bitch

bitch

I am not overreacting and I am not FUCKING YELLING. What does that even mean; I can’t see your perspective? I can see just fine. Fuck you. EVERYONE is ALWAYS blaming me. Well guess what!? I’ve had it, I hate you. I will fucking destroy you. I am sick of being pushed around, no one thinks about me, no one considers what this is like for me. Me me me! I can’t breathe I am so furious. I feel like I am going to explode, I want to throw something, break something, smash something and that something is going to be you. You better watch your back bitch. You’ll pay for this loser. Fuck.


There is a crazy bitch it our midst. Her fury cannot be contained or reasoned with and not in some admirable way like a warrior princess. She does damage. She’s mean spirited and cruel. She will do and say what mustn’t be done or said. She’s selfish, unconscious, and narcissistic. She cannot be trusted. Her perspective is whack and she can’t see past her own insane interpretations of injustice. She’s a victim of the worst kind and is relentless in her vengeance. Not only is she crazy, she’s crazy making, she moves around and can’t be pinned down, never accepting responsibility for anything. She makes trouble, stirs the pot and aims to destroy sanity and happiness and connection. Her expression of anger is uncensored and immature.

The Crazy Bitch, as an archetype that we deal with in our culture, creates a different kind of damage than this alleged woman. The Crazy Bitch archetype, as described above, degrades healthy expressions of anger and keeps unhealthy suppressions of anger right where they are, muffled. A woman raging will be cast this term before the first yelp lands on ears. The rising of the Crazy Bitch within oneself can be so terrifying that any path other than setting her loose must be chosen.

Who wants to be a crazy bitch? Not a single one of us. What does it take to be perceived as one? Not much as it turns out. The Crazy Bitch is in our psyche,quityourbitchin threatening to destroy our pristine self-image at any moment and thus she keeps the healthy maturation of anger under wraps. Anger is not a straight or clean or soft emotion. The bubbling of it can make us feel out of control, wild and even crazy. The Crazy Bitch looms as a promise of who you shall become should you let that anger continue to rise. The fear of being her is very real among women. And the accusation that she has arrived waits like mud in fists to be slung. And it’s slung quickly. “What a crazy effing bitch” at the first sign of aggression, at a push back, complaint, contrary voice or firm boundary.

Women are irrational right? We’re too emotional and lack the ability to think and act clearly. While this may seem like an outdated statement, absurd to those of us who consider ourselves evolved. It is so deeply felt within our culture; there is very real pressure to not be a Crazy Bitch. When discussing this recently with a male friend, he said ‘but there are crazy bitches’. True, there are women who inappropriately express anger in very destructive ways. So do men. What’s the male equivalent to a ‘crazy bitch’? This very real identity structure lives with women and is something to be avoided at all costs.

We shun each other for inappropriate expressions of rage and we shun ourselves. Here’s the trap though. If we’re relentlessly trying to ensure we don’t act out of line, if we’re avoiding, at all costs, being a crazy bitch, the cost is great. The cost is practice; that is building the capacity to healthily experience and express anger, becoming intimate and resourceful with this hot emotion.

‘Crazy Bitches’, that is a woman in an overt expression of anger that seems to lack any sense of regard for others or the ability to take other perspectives or have any self-control doesn’t just end up there suddenly. Explosions of anger often come long after dignity has been sacrificed, boundaries have been crossed and grievances have been left unexpressed. Crazy Bitch comes out to play when enough is enough, thank you very much. For those around it can seem out of the blue, but that’s because the building of the anger has been repeatedly pushed down, rationalized, side-stepped or molded into a more appropriate emotion. For those of us who have, in one expression or another, felt as though we’ve acted like (or even been perceived as) a crazy bitch, feeling and expressing our anger MORE does not seem like the appropriate course of action. But with practice, we become more skillful and with skill, we lessen the probability of being run by our emotions in destructive ways and embodying this archetype.

The Beauty Queen

beauty

 

OMG, does this Rage make my face look fat? These frown lines are totally making me look old and ugly. Botox please. I need to calm down and quit being so upset, my face is totally red and my eyes are puffy. I can’t go out like this; I look like a bulldog. I feel so pissed off, no one should have to be around me right now. I’m so mad; I could just cry and cry. I wish I could just get over it; this is so embarrassing and not very feminine to be all raging.


 

Hold up a picture of an airbrushed woman and a real woman and we’ll automatically think the airbrushed one is prettier (and don’t give me any of that ‘no, real beauty is far better’ garbage, save it for someone who isn’t paying attention to what’s going on.) If we put a placid porcelain woman with a receptive gaze and half smile next to a red faced, raging woman, we’ll automatically feel more attracted to the former, and possibly even repulsed by the latter.

Anger. It makes you ugly.uglyangry

The image of an angry woman doesn’t line up with what we conventionally hold as being beautiful or feminine. Softness and receptivity, an open, glowing, graceful and cool look are depictions of femininity and beauty. Flawlessness. Mystery. The raw humanity of the fullness of this expression exposes the human parts, the dark parts or, in this culture, the ugly parts. So ladies, wanna be hot? Check the anger.

Beyond the aesthetic affront that rage can be, anger as an emotion is more often associated with being masculine. Beauty is held as the ultimate superpower in our culture and to not be feminine, or to seem masculine conflicts directly with the pressure to be beautiful. Not only can it feel less conventionally feminine to be experiencing or expressing anger, many of us have learned that anger won’t get us as far as tears in expressing what we want or need. Collapsing into tears, expressing sadness, grief or vulnerability is far more acceptable, especially when trying to communicate with a male counterpart. In some ways, this could actually be seen as a form of emotional manipulation in women as showing the softer emotions are more likely to get us the attention or tenderness that we may desire. What this doesn’t do, however, is tend to our feelings of anger and can lead to all sorts of displacement within our emotional selves as we continually try to find ways to get our needs met and be in relationship with others in a way that still has us look and feel like the feminine beings we’re supposed to be.

As we can see, each of these cultural constructs contain constraints (say that ten times fast!) that we ought to wrangle ourselves out of. When feeling inside as these archetypes I can feel a sensation of contraction around a variety of fears that inform the choices we make, the experience we have and thus the cyclical nature of rejecting our anger. So what are these fears and what slick new moves can we try out to begin practicing with anger in a healthy and productive way? While any of these fears could be experienced independent of the archtypes cited, for the sake of creative continuity, let's check them out below as above.

Superwoman’s fears

confrontingfearsBeing out of Control: It takes a lot of energy, skill and awareness to do what I do in the way that I do. Anger frightens me because it feels like a storm that doesn’t consider that which it wreaks havoc on. I am afraid if I really let this bubble up that I will be taken over by it and no longer be the intentional driver of my own life.

Ill Repute: I have put a lot into building a strong reputation and I must be vigilant in not allowing a passing emotion to rip that down. I’m afraid that I will be perceived in a way that will not bode well for the favourable reputation I am trying to uphold.

Being wrong: Since I am aware that multiple perspectives exist simultaneously, I am also aware that my anger exists within my own subjective experience, thus; there are things that I cannot see. If I express my anger prior to exploring all perspectives, I run the risk of being wrong or being out of line. I must ensure that my feelings are entirely valid prior to expressing them.

Developmental inferiority: I am identified with being developmentally high, particularly in a spiritual or         interrelation context. To react or become upset challenges my longing to be above my base humanity. When I remain calm, cool and collected I am exercising my own superiority, (which in itself can be violent.)

Crazy Bitch's Fears

scaredcrazy

Loss of Perspective: I’m insane. My altered state leaves things foggy and distorted. I’m having a difficult time discerning perspectives and measuring their validity. This makes it challenging to trust myself or others and I feel overwhelmed.

Causing Pain: When I lash out if frightens or hurts others. In a moment of reactive rage, things get said or done and that can be deeply cutting. Finding out that I have deeply wounded someone I love fills me with shame. I so fear this that I perpetuate it by not expressing my own hurt or boundaries until suddenly lashing out and repeating the shame and anger cycle.

Loss of relationship: I am afraid that my own reaction and overt expressions of anger will be too much for others and that I will permanently damage the relationship. Consequently, I am on the look-out for others causing damage and can find myself pushing others away or feeling unforgiving towards other people’s expression of anger.

Beauty Queen's Fears

scaredbeautyBeing vulnerable: My self-sense is strongly connected to perfection. My desire to be flawless has me feel afraid of being truly seen. I don’t like feeling exposed and vulnerable to criticism. I want to be seen and heard, I want to express my discontent but I am afraid of how I will be regarded by others and it’s very important to me to be accepted.

Being unworthy: I am trying to uphold a standard of femininity and beauty and what lingers beneath is a deep fear of inadequacy. I fear that I don’t have the right to feel what I feel or to be upset. Further, even if I do have a right to be upset, I don’t feel worthy of retribution or deep connection and regard.

Being rejected: I am afraid of being left or rejected. Being liked and accepted is very important to me and I don’t want to behave in a way that might make people feel repelled or even repulsed by me. I am identified with being beautiful and likeable and endeavor to behave in a way that keeps positive attention coming towards me, not moving away from me.

Facing our fears and dancing in the flamesflamedance

So what are we to do with all of this? This article is aiming to turn us towards some of the complexities that we face when dealing with anger. To begin to work with and shift our habitual ways of being in relationship with our anger (and all of our emotions,) we must first be awake to it, curious about what is going on. I see the archetypes above as a doorway into this exploration. From here, as we become more intimate with our own experience, our beliefs, our motivations and our fears, we can begin to practice something new. What feels most frightening about practicing with anger is that the emotion itself is so hot, and in moments when it arises, the stakes often feel very high. But as we pay close attention, we may cautiously or boldly try a new move, bringing our beautiful, crazy superpowers into a hot dance with anger herself.

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19 comments

  • Comment Link TamaraP Monday, 14 November 2011 19:54 posted by TamaraP

    Thanks for this, Chela! One of my big pet peeves now is "gaslighting" -- that's when a guy provokes a woman to crazy/woman behavior to humiliate her.

    Talking about it helps. On last week's episode of Community, Annie had a little rant about why does she have to change to fit into Troy and Abed's world. I know it's a comedy show, and it was, on the surface, about being relaxed/fun vs. uptight, but the subtext was very much about women changing to be more palatable to men. Imagine that! A feminist message in a prime-time comedy show! How bloody subversive is that! :-)

  • Comment Link Kitty Wilson-Pote Monday, 14 November 2011 20:16 posted by Kitty Wilson-Pote

    Terrific in reminding me of many good things, this entertaining and astute article: find myself and my womenfolk here readily. When I began studying goddess mythology & its windows into psychology in the '90's, it surprised me to learn that other cultures respect archetypes symbolizing the power of female anger, for good and for ill. Kali and Sekhmet were the first to contribute to my own liberation. The contributions of these dark and blazing archetypal forces get disregarded or misunderstood so persistently that it's beyond sad. Glad as can be to find that the cry for awareness goes on, as here! Thank you.

  • Comment Link Trish Tuesday, 15 November 2011 19:21 posted by Trish

    Chela,
    I resonated so deeply with what you have written that I found myself wanting to scream, rage, strike out, and weep simultaneously. And, of course, I would not let myself do any of these things. I am not allowed.

    No, I am not allowed to yell. No, I am not allowed to cry. No. No. No. No.

    Sometimes I am so sick to death of not being able to express my deeply held negative emotions that I feel as if I will explode. And, I have worn all these masks, every single one. I suspect that many women share this with me.

    What I am struggling with is how to begin expressing all of this... hurt, anger, rage. Part of me wants to be believe that if I were sufficiently enlightened or mature, I wouldn't have these feelings, but another part of me is totally confident that unless and until I can express them, enlightenment or maturity are beyond me. How can I begin to grapple with the sources of anger when the sources are unacceptable on so many grounds? And, even if I do get clarity about my emotions, what modalities do I have for expression?

    Sigh.



    And, there's not much in your article

  • Comment Link Bergen Vermette Wednesday, 16 November 2011 08:59 posted by Bergen Vermette

    Sr. Che, I came across this quote, by author Elizabeth de Bold, and it seems relevant to your article:

    The issue of embodiment, and how it determines who we are as women and men, has been a long-time interest of mine. My academic work, as part of Carol Gilligan’s research collaborative on women’s and girls’ development, was about embodiment and the different way of knowing that girls and women have, compared with the norms of male culture. I saw how as girls’ bodies mature and their minds develop the capacity to holistically grasp cultural ideals and expectations for women, they “hit the wall of patriarchal culture,” as we called it, and cut off from themselves in order to pass through its narrow door. Most of us have learned that if we want to have success, be attractive, and feel secure, we have to dissociate from certain feelings (such as anger or vulnerability), from a real connection to sexuality, and from our own perspective on reality. We have learned how to create ourselves as objects in male culture. Paradoxically, the focus of our subjectivity has been a self-objectification, constantly reflecting the image (or images) that will get us what we want. For girls not to have to go through this dark passage to become women in patriarchy, we women would have to undo these dissociations to find a new, whole sense of ourselves.

    http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j39/divine-feminine.asp

    A very positive result of having this theme week on this site is that I'm getting exposed to a heap of female perspectives and issues that I simply wasn't aware of before. The quote above, like your piece in general, points things out that as I guy I have been, frankly, oblivious to. Looking forward to more, B

  • Comment Link Chela Davison Wednesday, 16 November 2011 19:13 posted by Chela Davison

    Tamara thank you so much for being here and for your comment. A link that a friend forwarded to me, that I may close this week with on a Bricolage, I am pasting below. It's relevant to your comment as it speaks to the term gaslighting and is written by a man announcing that women are not crazy, but explores the ways in which 'gaslighting' undercuts the interior experience of women, making us feel crazy.
    Enjoy:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yashar-hedayat/a-message-to-women-from-a_1_b_958859.html?ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false#sb=1287419,b=facebook&mid=51#sb=538310,b=facebook

    Kitty, thanks for this. I think it can be very liberating to seek out and explore archetypes within other cultures where anger is respected. In a conversation about anger and beauty that I had with Bergen, he spoke to the hotness of fiery Latino women and how that is an example of a cultural regard for female fury. There is a lot to be respected and celebrated about this emotion that feels lost on our culture and accessing this in different ways is helpful. Awareness and practice being the key I think in making healthy cultural shifts. Which brings me to...

    Trish. Thank you for this vulnerable and honest comment. I could feel my throat contract reading it, feeling your ache. It's true, there's not much in my article about what to do about it, how to practice with it. Certainly the emphasis here has been on awareness and exploration, speaking to a collective interior experience.
    So now what? Awareness without a new move, without a way out can certainly be excruciating.

    Let me sit with this and work on a follow up to this article. We'll see if we can get dancing with fury and other emotions in a practical way that creates some movement here. Thanks for the nudge. I appreciate your layers of inquiry. I am curious if you can expand on 'How can I begin to grapple with the sources of anger when the sources are unacceptable on so many grounds?' Are you speaking to culturally unacceptable? Many of the points I spoke to in this article? Or something else? What do you mean by the source of your anger?

    Clarity about emotion. That in itself is a huge murky pool to dive into and once that clarity is found, then expressing. Yes. Daunting. Terrifying. Not much in terms of a cultural container to support such growth. So what now? While I am very much in this with you and certainly don't have an embodied answer to offer, this inquiry is important and I will return.

    With Love
    Chela

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Thursday, 17 November 2011 08:58 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    Hey Chela,

    I really enjoyed this article, and it definitely spoke to me on a personal level.

    I've often struggled with anger and how to properly channel it. I've always carried a certain kind of energetic intensity that when I was younger was quite out of control. This turned into a lot of narcissistic rebellion in my early teens, and eventually a stiffling of that energy in my late teens to try to get it under control, which created its own problems.

    I'm still in a lot of integration process in working with that energy, and finding appropriate channels for it. It is probably THE spiritual practice for me. Healthy anger is so important as an energy, and as the quote from Elizabeth Debold illuminates, gets so dislocated for so many young women and that dislocation then follows them into adulthood.

    Also, really appreciated Kitty's comment about working with feminine archetypes around this. I've found working with Kali and Durga (in the Hindu Tradition) and Vajrayogini (in the Buddhist Tradition) to be extremely helpful. Interesting how we have so few of these raging archetypes in the Western traditions--definitely a loss, and where Eastern traditions have really offered me a lot.

  • Comment Link Paul P Friday, 18 November 2011 07:47 posted by Paul P

    Hey there Chela,

    Just wondering if these archetypes are simply variations on a theme for women who are low in emotional line development (to use some Integral jargon).

    I mean anger is distinct from the behaviours of cruelty, aggression and manipulation. All three behaviours are indeed unhealthy expressions of anger, but anger is a feeling. It is not a behaviour.

    Feelings are there to be felt. If a person (all this applies equally to men) does not have the capacity be present to the experience of anger, the energy and the associated body sensations, then there are all sorts of unhealthy ways it leaks out.

    The way out of this is to learn to feel ones feelings, I believe. That is the practice. One needs to get beyond the fear of holy shit I'm angry I need to do something because I can't stand how I feel. Essentially the unhealthy expression is used because the capacity to feel is not there.

    A healthy expression of anger is simply to say, "I am really angry right now."
    Feel the anger fully and see what happens. This is a skill and it takes practice.

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Friday, 18 November 2011 11:00 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    One of the best teachers that I've worked with around understanding and expressing anger--Robert Augustus Masters

    This is a great clip talking about his book "The Evolution of Anger"

    There is a part 2 on youtube also.
    http://youtu.be/DatAPCblQu0

    Thought it might be relevant here.

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Friday, 18 November 2011 11:12 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    Ok, had to post part 2--it rocks! And is specifically talking about women and anger.

    http://youtu.be/jcE5ONpziHU

  • Comment Link Paul P Friday, 18 November 2011 17:04 posted by Paul P

    Vanessa, thanks. Yes, that's a lucid discussion of anger. Totally worth watching again.

    His point about the cultural conditioning being partially responsible for the difference between how men and women deal with anger is spot on.

    My point is that the deeper issue (also culturally conditioned, but the same for men and women) is the lack of ability to feel. To be able to sit with and identify one's feelings is the core skill. The so-called archetypes are the conditioned responses. The only way (that I have found) to break free of the conditioning is to practice feeling. Otherwise you just generate another conditioned strategy to not feel.

  • Comment Link Richard Munn Saturday, 19 November 2011 19:41 posted by Richard Munn

    Hey All,

    I support people using images in order to help themselves grow and feel nurtured in ways that are useful to them. I respect that process and it's a process that I engage with myself.

    I am also really interested in carefully discerning what falls into the 'therapeutic' and what falls into the 'spiritual' domains, how these relate to each other and also how they blend and co-inform each other.

    With archetypes like Kali and Vajrayogini (an image used by both male and female practitioners at more advanced levels of Tantric practice under the guidance and transmission of a Guru) I am really interested, therefore, in how people can use them as psychological-emotional supports, while not loosing sight that their intended function is oriented towards something very different.

    These archetypes, and there are male versions, are intended to be given life in order that the practitioner is supported in cutting through of the separate self and the obstacles of the spiritual path. This means that the Wrath of these archetypes are not oriented towards external sources of frustration but towards the practitioners own delusion.

    Understanding this we can't then fall into the trap of making our own anger 'wrong,' of blaming oneself for having difficulty with relationships etc. This is where therapeutic help can be useful if it includes enough of what needs to be included, on the terms it needs to be included in, in a way that helps resolution come to the fore.

    My hope is that people can work with archetypes in ways that are useful, without reducing these archetypes down into something they aren't.

    There's a lot to say around this and I'm trying to get it into a small space, and not doing a very good job of it. I hope me putting something out there though is useful : )

  • Comment Link Amy Jean Cousins Saturday, 19 November 2011 21:21 posted by Amy Jean Cousins

    Hi folks,
    Thanks Chela, for exploring some ways we (women) can dissociate from our wholeness of expression. Like some of the commenters have stated, this is equally present in men.

    The topic of anger is an important one. As a teacher, I will often say to the kids, "it is totally natural to FEEL angry, but how you BEHAVE is a choice". The first step, like Paul said is to say "I feel angry"

    Nonviolent communication is really good in terms of helping to identify -and differentiate -between feelings and needs. My school uses these techniques to help children identify their feelings and find appropriate ways to express them and find resolution (we do this with kids as young as 3 years old).
    I'm sure there are other techniques out there, but I thought I would offer this here.

    The NVC approach is definitely designed for a social situation (LL). But, looking from an individual interior perspective (UL), I appreciate what Paul said about sitting with our feelings. Meditation and contemplation saved me from an encounter with my "crazy bitch", helped me identify what was actually bothering me, and allowed me to also find the gifts in the whole experience which actually lead to deep transformation. I do recommend having a teacher help guide you through this process though. As Richard cautioned, we don't want to consume archetypes like Kali superficially -I found reading books, going on retreat, and attending an evolutionary Christian church (Canadian Memorial United Church) very helpful on my path.

    Peace.

  • Comment Link Laurie Callihan Sunday, 20 November 2011 15:55 posted by Laurie Callihan

    This is an awesome article . . . I saw so much of myself here. I just finished my PhD at 51, changing my career path after homeschooling 5 children and now they are young adults, parents, etc. I am newly divorced, newly political, a few years integral, and as far as the article all of the above! Very, very on target, awakening and also comforting to know I AM NOT ALONE - it is not an I phenomenon but a WE phenomenon :). Now to attending to the complexities and moving onward . . .

  • Comment Link Laurie Callihan Sunday, 20 November 2011 16:00 posted by Laurie Callihan

    Before I commented above I hadn't read others comments. I think in seeing the "anger" issue you have to consider the "anger" context. Mine is focused on social injustice - not on individuals, for example. I am a teacher at the moment - and I not angry with my students but at the "system" that doesn't allow me the tools and freedom to supply their needs and it "makes me want to scream" internally :). So it is all about perspective taking folks. :) and everyone who reads the article will read it from their own . . .

  • Comment Link Nancy Davis Sunday, 20 November 2011 16:57 posted by Nancy Davis

    As I read this article a lightbulb illuminated in my own subjective perspectives. I appreciate the further converstations and the call for the next steps of understanding and action. Perhaps it is an invitation for more deep conversation among those who are interested in this path on the journey. For example, considering Laurie's posting what immediately came to mind is a question about the focus on external social unjustness. Does that come at the cost of looking the unjustness done to our own selves squarely in the eye and confronting it?

  • Comment Link Laurie Callihan Sunday, 20 November 2011 17:23 posted by Laurie Callihan

    Yes, and this article and the comments are so rich I have had to go back and read again. This idea of gaslighting is SO real! My CHILDREN do this to me! Because I have come out of (and raised them in) a very conservative Christian environment and have now moved to an Integral Christian enlightened frame the situation is immensely highlighted in my situation. I also work in a very conservative prejudiced southern oppressive environment thick with unjustice toward separate races in the community - it is a step back in time . . . after just leaving the FSU campus! Sometimes I feel my blood roiling within and the first section of this article is my mantra and then the second starts to kick in but the third is still there just below the surface . . .
    Chela . . . you have touched me deeply.

    Yes, I do (or I would not remain functional) step back and meditate and consider and consider the embodiment and talk about it with my integral colleagues . . . still - this article was a lovely "putting it together" for me.

    Laurie

  • Comment Link Chela Davison Sunday, 20 November 2011 20:17 posted by Chela Davison

    Hello everyone...

    Thank you for being here and engaging in such important, heart open dialogue. This Dark Side of the Womb week has been an incredible creative experience. We've been working on for a couple of months and have been engaged in a lot of deep and rich dialogue and practice as writers, artists and humans.

    Simply writing this article has opened up a ton for me personally. I feel really moved, coming into my own skin as a writer, and feeling that what I've offered has made an impact. It's really important to me and I'm grateful.
    Reading all of your comments and the different ways in which you've been touched, connected to and inspired to keep going feels to me like the realization of the purpose of this site...collective intelligence doing its work.

    What really strikes me though is the ache for and movement towards practice, taking the conversation beyond our intellectual musings and really calling ourselves to grapple with our own experiences and development.

    There is so much I could comment on and have felt inspired by in this dialogue, but I am going to keep this short and say thank you for keeping this discussion going and give you a heads up about a follow up piece.

    Inspired by what's happening here, I've written a part 2 article called Dancing with Fury. This article explores the path of practice more. It will be posted tomorrow morning (Monday). I hope it offers something more to this discussion and can be yet another platform that we can all jump off of and into the pool together again.

    With Love
    Chela

  • Comment Link Trish Tuesday, 22 November 2011 05:07 posted by Trish

    Hi. I have seen, but not yet read the second article. I thank you for your response, and I want to try to respond to your questions.

    One of my concerns is that meditation and other practices are just modes for rationalizing feelings--that is, taking them apart bit by bit until there is no feeling. I can do this, and it can be effective in shredding what I think of as ego-driven stuff. However, when I do it to what I feel is 'righteous' stuff, I feel I do violence to my deepest and truest feelings. And, so, I continue to struggle with finding better ways out.

    In terms of grappling: I think it is both personal and cultural, and yes, specifically to the points, particularly the various anger voices you described. I grew up in a household in which losing your temper or crying, etc. were unacceptable--you were simply sent to your room until such time as you could control yourself. Rationality trumped emotion/intuition always. You certainly described most of the cultural aspects, and many other commentators identified the social justice aspects. All of this is present for me, and sometimes part of the "load" is the mixed nature of it.

    I hope that helps. Now, on to reading the dancing article.

  • Comment Link Bonnitta Roy Tuesday, 22 November 2011 11:58 posted by Bonnitta Roy

    Hi everyone. I want to talk a bit about my work with the horses and what I have observed on women and anger. I do a 5-level workshop and on day three I expose the students to my stallion and (alternately) a very dominant mare in a large open paddock. Their job is to move the horse in a circle and then having the horse stop and look at them respectfully. If the student does not have enough core energy, the horse just ignores her -- like it would ignore a gnat. Interestingly, I've discovered, that the only way many women can bring up their core energy is by getting angry. Men, on the other hand, know how to get "sporty" -- create energy enthusiastically, and the horse finds this very interesting, fun to engage. A horse is a very social animal, and likes to mirror the energy being offered in relation. So the anger thing comes back at the women looking like aggression, and then they get scared and resort to pleading. A horse does not like pleading (it feels sticky, unstable and untrustworthy) so the horse will drive that kind of energy away. I also know for a fact that anger is *never* an adequate approach to working with horses, because horses expect leadership from humans, the same way they expect leadership (and fellowship) from each other. This creates a vital, energetic dance that is always playing out through the herd. I think if women were to think more about themselves in the role of leadership and alternately fellowship, depending upon a basic understanding of the situation, then anger wouldn't be a tool that one would want in one's emotional toolbox -- its too heavy a load, too crude an instrument, and wreaks way too much karmic mess. That is what I have learned from the horses.

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