Puzzlers

Three things I routinely see/hear and can’t quite fit in my head.

 

“Anger isn’t really an emotion, it’s a mask for other emotions.” According to this theory, anger is never a reaction to an event, but the result of your thoughts/feelings about said event. The corollary is that, instead of dealing with your feeling of anger, you should spend time disentangling your real feelings on the issue.

What puzzles me about this theory, aside from the fact that it’s entered the dogma and it’s now treated as unassailable,  is that we’re singling anger out. We don’t apply the same criteria to any other emotion, even though they’re blatantly in play.

For instance, fear is not a direct reaction to a situation, but the result of our assessment of that situation. That’s why some people find a situations scary, while other people find the exact same situations exciting, boring, etc. That’s why a person can become “immunised” against a specific fear by successfully dealing with its source. Yet fear, under the same theory, is a “root” emotion, a real emotion, one of the emotions we should look for in the hidden recesses of our minds when we’re feeling pissed off.

We could make the same kind of assessment about pretty much any other emotion/feeling. We could disembowel our fear, joy, sexual attraction, love, and anything else that passes through us. We could simply say that human reactions are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for, and that by exploiting the gap between experience and emotion we can better regulate our responses, regardless of how we feel. But we don’t. We only do that with anger.

I wonder whether the real issue here is that anger is socially inconvenient, so we’re trying to pretend to ourselves that it’s not real, trying to marginalise it into nonexistence.

 

“You can’t say that consent must be ‘reversible’, because that will be willfully misinterpreted to give people the right to change their mind after the fact and cry rape.”

I appreciate that the term ‘reversible’, as applied to consent, can be misused and misinterpreted. Surely, though, the way to deal with this kind of problem is to make the term and its contextual meaning more widely known, rather than refusing to talk about it. Making everyone aware of exactly what the concept encompasses would reduce its misuse. I can’t see how ignorance, in this instance, can help anyone – apart from those people who want sexual consent to be in fact irreversible.

 

People who mansplain mansplaining, and still don’t see it.

I personally hate the term mansplaining, partly because it’s unhelpfully divisive, and partly because it seems to ignore the fact that being a patronising know-it-all is not endearing regardless of gender. What really tickles me, however, are recent efforts in some quarters to popularise the theory that mansplaining is simply not a thing.

Men never, ever talk down to women. What is actually happening is that women are incapable of parsing the technical register that men use when talking shop, and as a result get unnecessarily offended. Every single woman who complains of having being mansplained to is simply misinterpreting her own experiences and having an unnecessary, excessive emotional reaction to a non-event.

No prizes will be available for guessing the gender of the people expounding the above theory. A medal, however, will be provided to anyone who manage to explain to them that the reason they can’t see mansplaining is that they’re too busy doing it.

 

 

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