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The importance of an angry woman It's no wonder girls are so miserable

Katy Perry taught women to suppress all their feelings. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images

Katy Perry taught women to suppress all their feelings. Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images


January 3, 2022   7 mins

Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?

Katy Perry’s Firework was perhaps the ultimate chin-up-tits-out song for the first generation to be fully net-native from childhood onwards. And not just because in the official video Perry shot sparklers from her boobs.

Her song struck a chord with many: Firework peaked at number three in the UK charts, and number one in the US. Her prescription for feeling bad is simple: don’t feel bad. Instead, all you have to do is “own the night like the 4th of July”.

But how, in practice, is one meant to “own the night”?

A new book offers some suggestions — aimed, it seems, at the adults who were once teenage Katy Perry fans. Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? invites us to see becoming less paper-thin as an important form of self-improvement. “To me,” opines author Dr Julie Smith, “working on maximising our mental health is no different to working on our physical health.”

Looking through the problems Smith describes, one can infer a few things about the implied reader and their struggles. This person is anxious, perfectionist, keen to be liked, prone to minutely dissecting social interactions, spends a lot of time scrolling through social media and worrying about others’ perceptions.

This suffers “low mood” and “anxiety”, struggles with “stress” (there’s a whole chapter on it) and thinks a great deal about couple relationships (another chapter). Typical self-limiting beliefs include imagining that failing at one thing makes them a ‘loser’, or that because someone hasn’t called in a while it’s “because she hates me”.

Dr Julie never explicitly addresses her book to one sex or the other. But I’m willing to bet you know more women than men who fit the description above, an egregious bit of stereotyping that is supported by studies which show women consistently score more highly for anxiety, perfectionism and neuroticism than men.

It’s tempting to suggest that the kind of neuroticism addressed in Dr Julie’s book is new: a product of the navel-gazing social media age, perhaps. And considerable evidence has been amassed now to suggest that social media is making young people more neurotic — especially young women.

A few months before Firework reached number one, in October 2010, Instagram was launched. In the four years that followed, as girls sang along to Katy Perry’s song about transcending your insecurity to wow the crowd, the rate of hospitalisation for self-harm among American girls aged 10 to 14 doubled.

Similar trends are visible in the UK: the Guardian reported in 2017 that over the decade 2007-2017 the rate of hospitalisation for self-harm among girls under 17 had risen by 68%. And Instagram is heavily implicated: summarising its effect on self-perception, a 2019 internal presentation by Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, reported: “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls”.

But delving into historic medical literature on women’s mental health suggests that while Instagram may not be helping, it’s possible that the platform is exacerbating something that already existed. Feminists have long written critically about sexist portrayals of women’s emotionality in medical literature. Over three centuries ago, in 1681, the physician Thomas Sydenham offered a description of what he calls the “hysteric diseases”, which sounds strikingly like the emotional world experienced by Dr Julie’s implied reader:

“They indulge terror, anger, jealousy, distrust, and other hateful passions; and abhor joy, and hope, and cheerfulness
 They love the same persons extravagantly at one time, and soon after hate them without cause
 So unsettled is their mind, that they are never at rest.”

Unlike Dr Julie, Sydenham wastes no time in attributing this form of mental distress more to women than men. Few women, he asserts, “are quite free from every species of this disorder”. But unlike the ancients who thought neurosis was a function of female physiology, Sydenham thought it was mostly an effect of material ease.

In his observation, women who do hard physical work don’t suffer from “hysteria”, while men “who lead a sedentary life, and study hard” do. Sydenham called this male version “hypochondria” rather than hysteria, but describes both ailments as characterised by similar symptoms: “lowness”, “disordered mind” and “incurable despair”. For Sydenham, this ailment of ease inevitably includes more women than men, for men “cultivate the earth, hunt and kill wild beasts for food, and the like”, while the wealthier a woman gets the more likely she’ll be to be exempt from such gruelling work.

But perhaps material comfort is a double-edged sword. We might infer from Sydenham’s comments that without a healthy channel for aggression, and a sense of being able to act on the world around us, both sexes grow restive — and a historically sexed division of labour has made this especially the case for women. The accompanying sex role stereotypes, meanwhile, have long since taught women to bury all such dark and dangerous emotions.

Far from pursuing agency and a full range of emotional expression for its implicitly female readership, Has Nobody Told Me This Before? continues the time-honoured tradition of teaching women to internalise. Sigmund Freud based his theories of the human psyche on the twin pre-rational drives of sexuality and aggression; but these, considered fundamental human drives by psychoanalytic psychotherapy, barely feature in Dr Julie’s manual for self-optimisation: two mentions each. In contrast, “anxiety” appears 77 times. And while there’s a brief discussion of anger, this is only in the context of grief. Implicitly, anger is never about aggression — it’s always a cover for something cuter and more deserving of sympathy, such as fear or loss.

At the micro-scale, the book offers uncontroversial and often practical advice on how to be slightly less neurotic. Our minds can play tricks on us, Dr Julie advises, so troubleshoot practical reasons for feeling low, such as tiredness or thirst, before you catastrophise. Try not to obsess about things that go wrong: go for a short walk and think about something else. Write down three things a day you feel grateful for. Get enough exercise, sleep regularly and for long enough, eat real food and not too much of it, stick to a regular routine.

But its overarching message is unnerving. In Dr Julie’s world, there’s no question of using kinetic emotions such as anger or aggression to change anything around us. Rather, when experiencing strong emotion, she encourages the reader to use “physical movement” to “use that physiological arousal in the way it was designed to be used”.

I doubt Dr Julie has in mind the physical movement of her reader’s fist toward someone else’s face, which is arguably how the “physiological arousal” of anger is “designed to be used”. But this bait-and-switch exemplifies the pervasive message of this book: that somehow, we’re all alone in a world of shadows, where authentic encounters with other people are not possible. Nothing we feel can ever be expected to change anything, so it’s best we learn to manage it.

When experiencing strong feelings of any kind, she advises, the solution is never to act on them but rather “build your awareness of how you respond to various emotions” so you can “practise stepping back from them and responding to them with compassion”. In other words, “managing our mental health” means not becoming more immediately present in your social world. It means learning to detach from the kind of strong, kinetic, engaged and embodied feelings you’d need if there were real people out there, and instead detonating excess emotional force in a carefully controlled vacuum.

And this should be enough, the book implies, for each individual contains the solutions within them. As Katy Perry puts it:

It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through

The chapter on “values” makes this clearest of all — for it invites the reader to compile her own ex nihilo. “Getting clarity on our personal values can guide us on setting goals that will bring meaning and purpose,” she declares, a statement that a cynic might observe is on the circular side: deciding what you understand the meaning of life to be will help you to determine the meaning of life.

One might also wonder if it’s a little cruel to ask an anxious, neurotic, socially uncertain and emotionally labile perfectionist to conjure a viable personal philosophy into existence without help from external referents. But leaving that aside, Dr Julie doesn’t acknowledge how the demand that each reader determines her moral system in a vacuum can backfire. For while it holds out a promise of self-containment, it also explains why anger is so curiously absent from this book.

For there are forms of righteous anger that aren’t covers for fear, loss or past trauma. This kind of anger is a fundamentally social emotion that expresses outrage at some other or others violating a set of shared principles. But in Dr Julie’s world, there are no shared values. And this means anger can never be righteous – and thus can only be detonated safely, in isolation, and never employed constructively in social encounters.

This presents further difficulties, too. For losing the shared terrain on which legitimate anger might be expressed doesn’t eliminate the underlying human tendency to aggression — even if Dr Julie doesn’t acknowledge that such a tendency exists. And if Sydenham catalogued the psychic distress more than three centuries ago of people who lacked healthy means of expressing agency and aggression, those means have shrunk still further today.

This is especially the case for girls, 84% of whom were shown in a recent study to be too sedentary — a higher figure than for boys, just as in Sydenham’s day. At the same time, studies show girls are more likely than boys to be both the victims and also the perpetrators of online bullying.

No wonder, then, that girls and young women are miserable. We raised a generation with few direct outlets for healthy aggression, and the most sedentary lifestyles in history, and told them not to assume any shared values with those around them — which meant they could never be legitimately angry. Then we handed them a set of social media tools for covert interpersonal aggression and watched their mental health implode.

Fittingly, Dr Julie first attained the fame that landed her this publishing deal on Instagram. She has thanked her audience by writing a book which denies the existence of any basic human drives and disavows the social importance of any shared values, while reinforcing every young woman’s essential isolation and concurrent duty to self-improve.

I’ll say this for Dr Julie’s book: it offers some useful tips to the Instagram generation, in coping with the main modern delivery mechanism for covert female aggression: Instagram. But it offers nothing to broaden the Instagram view of life: a competitive, value-neutral performance, where self-optimisation is everything and other people aren’t entirely real.

Every young woman is a firework; every young woman owns her own night. And no one is coming to help her with it.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

The action plan I would propose to any young person today, whether male or female, would be:
1) Get off social media if you don’t have to be on it for work, or limit your use of it.
2) Go and do something physically strenuous – preferably some kind of work that yields a physical result, i.e. gardening.
3) Go and join some kind of club or group. And by that, I mean a real one, out in the world where you are in contact and interract with real people. For some, this might mean religion. For others, it might be a team sport. For me, it’s my weekly swim in the Danube with the girls…even when it’s below zero. That makes me feel more alive than any rubbish on social media.
The navel-gazing that was needed to make people more emotionally intelligent has gone far too far and now it’s damaging us. For more stability and happiness, people should stop gazing at themselves and their smartphones and dwelling on every single emotion and start looking outwards and feel part of something greater (see point 3).

Last edited 2 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Good advice.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Delighted to read your sensible posts and Katherine Eyre’s above totally free of any female rage or anxiety. I should add not only today but also invariably so.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I spent ages being angry and resentful and anxious…which took in, but wasn’t restricted to, equality issues. I heard the complaint “oh, why are you so angry all the time” and got worked up over the question of whether it was because I was a woman. I don’t know quite what happened, I think self employment had a lot to do with it and finally working on my own terms (and slaying, BTW)….but I’m much more chilled and, if I do get angry, as everyone does at some point, it tends to be like a thunder storm: a quick ramba-zamba then gone. Not an ongoing, unproductive, frustrated anger that eats you up and makes you unpleasant to be around. Self confidence, being that bit older and general acceptance of (and contentment with) the ways in which you can actually make a difference in the world all help a lot. Constantly chewing stuff over in your head or worrying endlessly about how things “ought” to be doesn’t. The small incremental changes you can make still matter.
And you see, we all – men and women – can have a sensible conversation about this and relate without getting into a men vs. women shouting match.

Last edited 2 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

That is one of my objections to CRT and feminist rhetoric. It breeds a hypersensitivity to imagined slights that are not intended and pumps up anger and anxiety that make life uncomfortable and stops people hearing what is said to them rather than what they think is said. 
For example Jordan Peterson is very careful what he says about the distinction between equality of choice and equality of outcomes but “feminist” women often find it extraordinarily difficult to understand what he is saying rather than what they think he is saying.
On this comment board people sometimes attack a posting not for what has been written but for what the reader thinks is meant or they impute an imagined motive behind the comment. This is particularly so if the reader has a strong ideological belief.
Once you can let go the anger, anxiety and floating paranoia generated by some ideology it starts to become possible to hear what people are actually saying.
I remember a rather hypersensitive female work colleague explaining that when a woman is asked where she bought the Christmas Turkey her natural response is to ask: “Why, what’s wrong with it?” She added men tend not to suffer that way – although that was forty years ago and I suspect more men have become hypersensitive to potential criticism in a way they weren’t then.
Life is much easier when you are not constantly alert for imagined slights and micro-aggressions. I am delighted to hear of your transition to a more comfortable thought process.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeremy Bray
Liam F
Liam F
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Sensible stuff. “Ramba Zamba” – never heard that before , but I love it!

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Liam F

It’s a German thing but I think it works in English too, so I appropriated it shamelessly!

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Thanks Jeremy. I have to admit I am not a stranger to either anxiety or rage, but I try to deal with them as they arise rather than allowing them to become the background to my life. The air turns blue and inanimate objects get it in the neck sometimes.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yep great advice.

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Definitely what we’re missing on the whole. Also, fasting for some days or going on a completely plant-based diet for a week or so can do wonders for life quality and personal gratefulness.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Thank you for good advice.

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
2 years ago

Physical work or exercise does improve our mood. I try to either walk, cycle or scythe every day regardless of the weather.Occasionally I miss a couple of days because of other activities and feel slightly jaded. The article correctly states that women seem to suffer more anxiety and mental illness than men. Why then are boys harangued for masculine traits and admonished to behave like the girls?

Last edited 2 years ago by David Uzzaman
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman


 maybe because the MSM is increasingly populated by females who were born into a man-blaming echo chamber – that they go on to perpetuate.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

I seem to remember Jordan Peterson explaining in one of his lectures that women’s tendency to be anxious is an evolutionary trait that protects their offspring, which makes sense to me as a mother. If society encourages women to behave like men that does not mean we suddenly possess masculine traits any more than vice versa.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Sounds llike you are on to something.
But I didn’t understand your last sentence

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Julie Blinde

My apologies, here’s a longer version.
Equality as a political ideal has been pursued over recent decades. Feminists have wanted women to be able to have the same power as men. To achieve that women, to a greater or lesser extent have to be more like men, from tampons and the contraceptive pill to suits and sport.
So we women now ostensibly have the same chances as men (providing we are prepared to make sacrifices), but our instincts are out of tune with what is now expected of us. For hundreds of thousands of years most of us gave birth and cared for children, our biology has not caught up with the demands of new 21st century ‘equal’ world. That is going to cause our natural propensity for highly aware care-giving to become acute anxiety, which is aggravated by feminists telling us we are still not equal enough and it’s all men’s fault.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Thanks yes I agree I think.
If equality means being the same and eradicating differences that cannot be levelled, then I’m not sure that I want that

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Thanks. Beautifully expressed.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Perfectly expressed. Women are biologically hardwired to care for children and vulnerable members of the community, feminism seeks to over ride this

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

You have to be careful with this statement. It appears true in the aggregate, but there are plenty of women who do not enjoy caring for children and others. (And men who do.) Talk of ‘biological hardwiring’ leads directly to … “if you don’t share the attitudes that are supposedly hardwired, then you need a sex-change operation”.

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

OK fair enough that’s true but I mean in general, there will always be those at various ends of the spectrum. Also a lot of the middle aged men who like dressing in women’s clothes don’t actually want to take on caring responsibilities.
They want to continue living their lives with traditionally masculine roles – corporate high flyers, senior army people etcs – while wearing stilettos, bad make up jobs, skimpy dresses and forcing others to call themselves names like “Tiara Timandra”

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Annemarie – you appear to have some information on the great and the good which you really ought to share. Are you really saying that the patriarchy is run by transvestites?

Andrew D
Andrew D
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

We could be onto something here. Perhaps the patriarchy consists mainly of ‘women’?

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Indeed..wouldn’t you agree?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley
Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

There is an article in the Mirror about a trans man who gave birth. He stated it was one of the most masculine things he’d ever done and I realised that one of the problems seems to be peoples confused ideas of what it means to be a man or a woman. How is giving birth masculine? The only human men to ever give birth were born with wombs and v@ginas!

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

I would say that menstruating is the most masculine thing a man could ever do, because what the f**k. Why not?

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mo Brown

Hahaha

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

Thanks for mentioning this. I’m definitely a woman who the caretaking, baby-centric gene has completely passed by.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I married a woman like you. But she is still more sensitive to children and kittens than I am. You can only avoid your fate to a degree.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

As Brendan said above “beautifully expressed”.
Best illustrated for me by the belief that many feminists will continue to demand that women must remain upset until the “gender pay gap” has disappeared.
However, it will (and arguably should) continue to exist while many women choose to exercise a preference for more “maternal time” during their working lives.
I feel blessed to have a “Y” chromosome 


Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

I certainly do, but not a double dose

Julie Blinde
Julie Blinde
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Many would say that is one too many.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Enjoyable analysis. Power is somewhat intangible – power over what? While I have had female engineers working for me, few ever wanted to be in charge. One destined to become a manager preferred motherhood and I fully understood. In my dotage, my children give me great joy. All the my various advances in technology pale in comparison. . ,

Last edited 2 years ago by Hardee Hodges
Paul Monk
Paul Monk
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Yes. Nina Power articulates the problem of this so-called equality really well in an interview with Alex Kaschuta (YouTube: Nina Power – Men & Women At The End of History).

dasgupta.sucheta
dasgupta.sucheta
2 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

TouchĂ©! I think by the way that traditional cultures such as mine (Bengali) still have respect for the positive roles of anger and violence in society and individual psyches and greater acceptibility for seriously angry women. We are neither delicate nor prejudiced and cancel-prone, both more sincere and more vulnerable to life’s good influences. We think nothing of committing small acts of trespass (rather than great sins of omission) and hence those of us who do get up/down to it, just like the classical feminists of yore, do not worry about how to own the night when we do that.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

Because there is an agenda to weaken men and boys and turn them into snivelling sissies. Physical work and exercise definitely improves mood for men and women

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

I wouldn’t be scything in wet weather.

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
2 years ago

It depends what you’re cutting. Wet grass cuts better than dry.

Aleks Kinclara
Aleks Kinclara
2 years ago

“A few months before Firework reached number one, in October 2010, Instagram was launched. In the four years that followed, as girls sang along to Katy Perry’s song about transcending your insecurity to wow the crowd, the rate of hospitalisation for self-harm among American girls aged 10 to 14 doubled.“

Also during this period there occurred a sudden explosion in the number of girls and young women exploring some kind of non-female identity, and pursuing medical and surgical interventions to pursue the chimera of a sex change—arguably a form of self harm particularly when undertaken in adolescence or very young adulthood.

Last edited 2 years ago by Aleks Kinclara
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Perhaps an additional point. The expression of legitimate anger is a demand for accountability. It says – you have done this to me, or to someone I love, or you have been so unfair, that you are really going to know about it!
I’m not saying we shouldn’t manage our anger – often it is momentary, misguided or out of proportion. But to always suppress it is simply to let people off the hook for the bad things they do.
Sometimes they need to be reminded that bad actions have consequences.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Well said. Perhaps the reason for so many angry people out here is due to the massive amount of unaccountability that exists today, especially from our political and social leaders?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Many years ago I used to buy distressed houses to fix and resell. Really bad houses, ones that either were in such structurally poor condition they were un-mortagable, or some other great defect, so they went for cash, cheap. Often in bad parts of the city.

I will never forget what a very good realtor told me; she was from the bad part of the city herself, and gave me excellent advice I have always found to be true.:

“During the weekend drive the area and note what cars are parked at the houses. Then drive the same streets during M-F, 9-5, and see what streets and houses the cars are not gone from. If a lot of the people there do not have jobs it will be trouble; ‘Idle Hands Are The Devils Workshop'”

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Or ‘The devil makes work for idle hands’, as was the advice given by our elders.

Mo Brown
Mo Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Sounds more snobby than humble to me.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

We evolved as hunter gatherers, working out of doors. Sunlight produces Vitamin D.Walking, running and manual work produces strong bones, endomorphins, testosterone, and blood with a high oxygen content and flushes waste from body. Continuous work develops mytochondria in muscles. Repeat action develop the myelin sheafs around nerves, serotonin, and dopamine.
The food we ate had a high mineral content, low carbohydrate content and the fat in any meat had an Omega 3 to Omega 6 of roughly parity.
When we developed farming the mineral content of out food declined, bones became weaker and disease from living in proximity and from animals increased.Farming increased quantity of humans but reduced quality as shown by weaker bones and diseases.
We now live a lifestyle eating food which has been processed; on soils with low mineral content; fats from animals fed on unnatural diets; vast amounts of carbohydrate and sugar with little out of door exercise. We wonder why we are unfit and unhealthy?
Look at the staue of Aphrodite; this is woman who has done manaul work
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphrodite_of_Knidos
or Venus
https://www.wikiart.org/en/peter-paul-rubens/morning-toilet-of-venus-1615
I suggest that Venus painted by Rubens shows muscles which were produced by hard manual work.
Being physically and mentally inactive; eating a bad diet; dwelling on one’s misfortunes, wallowing in self- pity promotes poor physical and mental health.
The problem for the West is that we have a biochemistry of hunter gatherers who eat nutritionally poor food, live indoors and undertake sedentary work.
I suggest and hour and half of sport out of doors, especially in winter( cold increase metabolic rate ); craft work which is creative- cooking, sowing, sculpture, cabinet making, etc and a diet of nutritionally goood food. Humans also need to be constructive, to create something worthwhile. We have become consumers and stopped being creators.
Descarte said ” I think therefore I am “. The West is ” I consume therefore I am “. We need to become ” I create therefore I am “.

James Anthony Seyforth
James Anthony Seyforth
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Certainly, women and men should be physically challenged, what we need is more community sport and public spaces/events encouraging such sport.

Also, women aren’t ‘weak’ as many men and women assume (as in women ARE weaker than men on average but they aren’t weak), we just make them weaker by nurturing such weakness and daintiness. I’ve seem some dangerous women with a lot of beautiful muscle, but I can only imagine if they laboured or did athletics with some enthusiasm, they’d be killer:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/prehistoric-women-manual-labor-stronger-athletes-science

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“The importance of an angry woman”
Do we need quite so many of them, though?

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

I am not sure we _have_ that many angry women. We have lots of offended and outraged women, many of whom are encouraged to ‘act angry’ but ones who are genuinely angry seem harder to find, in part because ‘expressing and acting out one’s anger’ is only a safe activity for those whose anger is relatively petty and easy to contain. (Or who are two years old, and can be picked up and controlled that way.) People who can find in themselves the sort of incandescent rage which tells them how they could kill, maim and destroy others are understandably reluctant to encourage their own dark natures. This makes the genuinely angry harder to spot.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago

I was brought up to believe in the old adage:-
Anger is only acceptable when it is used against something happening to others, never when it is applied to something happening to oneself.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Jean Nutley

Unless someone is punching you in the face, of course.

Jean Nutley
Jean Nutley
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Then they had better duck! Family nickname for me is “The Rottweiler” , quite unflattering, but fair.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago

Social media is probably the biggest thief of the time (and sanity) of people who might otherwise motivate themselves to take exercise and/or get involved in other meaningful pastimes.
Like any addiction, these people need to break that addiction themselves.
The fact that doing this requires awareness, effort and short-term sacrifice, means that few will manage it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Sure – but maybe as it’s only a few hours a week – and my only interactive crime site – I’m below the “serious addict” threshold.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Barton
hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

….like being addicted to pointing out addiction to the “Herd Bubble” ?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

It had to be said!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Keeps the brain in shape. Out in the real world I mostly am with a rough lot; on construction sites, and out on the water, and fishing, discussing merits of various tools and construction talk, and maybe some on trucks and how F**ked up the Biden is are 95% of the talk.

Here I talk of construction and fishing just about 20% of the time posting, so it is a good change. (Last evening it was gale winds, cold, and I was out fishing anyway, and got 3 really nice ones – and today I have to put up surveyors tape marking my next construction site. – I manage to get some of that talk in here too, but never get to quote poetry or mention the various blessings of Colonialism when on the job sites)

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I applaud your outlook. It’s mentally refreshing to get out of your regular routine, socialize with those of completely professions and interact with people with different backgrounds and opinions, as on this site. You don’t have to agree with them, certainly not for the purpose of herd acceptance, just give contrary ideas some thought. It’s the antithesis of tribalism and dull conformity that is so pervasive, nowadays.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Bell
Margaret D
Margaret D
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

Or on the three Substack authors I read. I could get lost in the comments for hours but I learn so much from them that it’s worth my time.

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

But isn’t this the Unherd bubble space, i.e the place where freethinkers congregate?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago

The book sounds like it has all the intellectual heft and practical utility of a daily horoscope.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

I watched a Harry Potter movie a few weeks before Christmas which puzzled me greatly because the young people in it had seemingly permanent pained and angst-ridden expressions. Nobody broke out into a smile over the course of the film. I became soon enough disenchanted. In fact I was ready to switch over to Dad’s Army to feel human and free again.
When today’s youth have never had it so good in terms of material possessions, is there a push throughout society to make them feel guilty? So guilty such that they see no benefit in leaving out punishing themselves. They must punish themselves, as they would see it. They must take responsibility for the cares of the world.

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 years ago

Last week I watched Belfast and had similar thoughts. Why has it become so rare to see a film about recognisable human beings? It was so refreshing to see a story about normal people, having normal emotions, living normal lives, with normal families bound together by mutual affection.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Or are they just miserable, and rationalising their misery by projecting onto the world at large?
They are angry at life because, fundamentally, they have been rendered unfit for it.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Morley
Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

That’s a bit harsh. I think there is room for compassion in this world, particularly for the young who will have to live with it longer than myself.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

OK, a generalisation, but the ones demanding compassion are the ones least deserving of it. I’ve plenty of compassion for those who don’t get the best start in life and do their best to succeed.
Rich kids with sob stories – not so much.

Peta Seel
Peta Seel
2 years ago

Maybe if we thought of “me” a little less and others a little more we would be happier?

Jeremy Eves
Jeremy Eves
2 years ago

Is our western society, whether men or women, not basically self obsessed? It’s all about me, my happiness, my rights?
If we focussed on helping other people, especially serving on an one-to-one basis rather than campaigning on issues, we might think about ourselves less and, as a consequence dimish the fixation of worrying about ourselves with all its attendant anxieties.
I am not trying to belittle the many very real mental health issues that are so prevalent, merely to point to a different perspective

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
2 years ago

I’ve so far not met many perfectionist women, however, I’ve seen lots of self proclaimed perfectionists morbidly afraid to make a mistake. And without making mistakes, you’re not striving for perfection.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

How’s this for lateral thinking? Why don’t we criminalise self-harm and prosecute offenders? Change the mindset. Make it an offensive and deplorable way to behave.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Well I did say it was lateral thinking; lateral as opposed to mainstream.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

That’s OK Julie, I’ve up-ticked Malcolm to balance out the down-tick from the miserable git (whoever she is).

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Mmm interesting. I actually agree. Shaming and stigmatising is a good way to stop and discourage harmful behavior, as long as there is a redemption/reintegration path afterwards. For example, fat shaming actually works.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Speaking of fat shaming, why do so many extremely large women today wear spandex outdoors?

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

It’s already been tried. They used to bury suicides at crossroads.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

It sounds as if the book perfectly supports the individual/identity focused society we live in. Part of the problem instead of offering any kind of solution.
I just cannot see how things can improve, as social media seems to particularly draw girls into it’s virtual world of connectivity, chatting and selfies, if they are that way inclined, not all of them are, so that’s something.

Keith Jefferson
Keith Jefferson
2 years ago

Isn’t this just an age thing and the increasing infantilisation of the population?
When you are in your teens and twenties, you worry about what others think of you. When you get to your thirties and forties, you stop caring what others think about you. When you reach your fifties or sixties, you realise that, actually, nobody was thinking about you in the first place. This has been true for a long time – people just settle into their skins and accept who they are as they get older and realise that nobody is really judging them. The only thing that has changed is that the obsession with social media has made it worse for the current generation of young people. Medicalising everyday anxieties experienced when you are young just leads to those anxieties progressing throughout adulthood instead of naturally subsiding as you grow older (and wiser). 

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

Many of our young people see their over indulgent parents lives and feel entitled without being aware of the effort their parents may have put in or hardships suffered beforehand to provide a warm roof and a smart phone. Listening to vapid shallow singers lucky enough to have become millionaires early in life must be frustrating. Instant access to the internet allows the kids to view the world through a false telescope. Someone below says get out more in the community. Fair comment but e.g. 10-14 year olds rely on ‘uncool’ parents to enable this. The world is more insecure and unstable than ever or at least seen as such, thanks to an unscrupulous MSM. No wonder Greta and co, who want us to live a medieval life style scraping a marginal existence, are seen as an escape. Perhaps part of their education should be in a commune or kibbutz to provide perspective. I can hear the phone ringing and the banging on the door as we speak.

Douglas H
Douglas H
2 years ago

Why is she “Dr Julie” and not “Dr Smith”?

If she’d been Julian Smith would he have been referred to as “Dr Julian”?

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Douglas H

You’d have to ask the author.

But I imagine an author might indeed write ‘Dr Julian’, to indicate to the readers that perhaps that doctor’s writings were not automatically to be accorded uncritical acceptance in every particular.

Just a thought.

Hosias Kermode
Hosias Kermode
2 years ago

God I am SO BORED with discussions about women and girls. Anger is a pointless and destructive emotion, an expression of weakness. The problems of modern life are considerable, but they can be tackled only by the sexes working together to address how work and family life can best interact. I would rather think in terms of people, with the only useful division being between good and bad. If you don’t like the effects of social media, stay away from it. If you want shared values, try reconnecting with the religion, over two thousand years, that made us who we are. Its commands are very simple: love the Lord thy God (whatever what means to you), and love thy neighbour as thyself. In other words stop looking for happiness for yourself and live your life looking for what you can to do better your own small corner of this world for others.

Deborah B
Deborah B
2 years ago
Reply to  Hosias Kermode

Well said. Ingrained into people of a more mature generation was the rule to consider others first, “help other people every day” (the girl guide promise) and so on. It’s a good start.

J Hop
J Hop
2 years ago

So many of these comments, while intelligent, seem to be missing the point. Just more advice on how to supress and steer normal human emotions or ways to pigeonhole and twist into preconcieved ideas on gender roles. While sublimation is great, I think one of the points was that there’s too much of it and that anger in itself isn’t an unhealthy emotion except when expressed in destructive ways.
Anger is often an appropriate response and it’s not pathalogical to experience it or express it. This was one of the first things I had to learn in my analysis after growing up being scapegoated in a very dysfunctional family. It was cathartic to finally be able to see my anger as a natural reaction to un-natural circumstances and not catagorize myself as my family had as mentally ill or flawed for it. I became infinitely healthier because of it and those elusive boundaries I had such a hard time enforcing prior became natural and normal.
Something to think about.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

In his observation, women who do hard physical work don’t suffer from “hysteria”, while men “who lead a sedentary life, and study hard” do.
Perhaps Nature is telling us something? Hmmm.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

There’s something to that. I went from managing a bar to being a college lecturer. I was so much happier managing bars. Currently, teachers and professors are micro-managed to such a level that their teaching suffers for it.

Storm B
Storm B
2 years ago

We got the petroleum doing the work for us in nearly every way imaginable. Got the machines doing the heavy lifting so women can do most jobs too. Got em in the workforce now let the gubment raise the kids. Not much need for male female distinctions anymore. Hormones and medical tech will finish those off. Sounds like paradise ya?

Michael K
Michael K
2 years ago

There are vast issues in modern Western thinking, and all of them stem from us freeing ourselves from hallowed tradition, and replacing it with something that is as empty as it is obviously meaningless.
First of all feminism, where girls are expected to work for a career they might not even want, just to get the respect of “everybody” else. Making money and buying/consuming things is seen as the desirable end result of life. Being a mother is portrayed as somehow inferior (by the women, no less!), and it’s en vogue to lie to yourself about not needing a man.
Because women still do need men, they get them in a fashion that entices their Western egos: either as a donor of virtual likes, or as the attractive stranger from Tinder. Now, mortal men can no longer fulfill her (admittedly at this point understandable) expectations for him to look like a model, earn like a CEO and still respect her (un-)feminine dominance. The result is a whole lot of single women, who wasted their most promising years to find a partner and start a family with something that does not bring them true happiness. Unfortunately, it comes with growing up to one day realize that you have been lied to. One can only hope & pray that it won’t be too late at that point of revelation.
And then recently I read that many young women feel threatened by porn, because they feel they can not compete with the women portrayed in these videos. The resulting suggestion was to ban all porn. And while that’s entirely logical, taking away porn from the average man would mean a near total eradication of their already practically nonexistent sex-life.
Afterwards, I thought about the porn ban for a bit and, while I initially objected, I did come to like the general idea. As a 30-year-old man myself, I now believe that a ban on porn, social media and online dating would be a blessing for society. Would that be extreme? Yes. But just dare to entertain the thought.

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael K
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

My mother-in-law taught my husband that if a woman cries, it is manipulation. I wonder where the manipulation really lies. See my rage.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lesley van Reenen
Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

Well, at least you do not have to worry so much about doing things that make her cry. What’s her secret? onions?
My mother was a firm believer in manipulating others by faking a good cry. It just meant that when she was genuinely upset about something, her family had a hard time seeing it. I wonder if there hasn’t been a shift in behaviour, where nowadays women are more likely to fake a good anger instead of a good cry to manipulate others. It’s easier on the makeup.

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t. And she should have taught him the difference. If someone cries (or gets angry) just to get their way, avoid accountability etc it’s manipulation. If something has happened to make them feel hurt then it’s not.
Conversation for you and your husband perhaps?
If you’re getting angry because your crying doesn’t produce the result you want 

..

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

Wow! So if a woman cries because her child has died she’s being manipulative, if she cries because she has lost her dream job she’s being manipulative, if she cries because her boyfriend has walked out on her she’s being manipulative. It is just possible, you know, for a woman to cry because she is really, really upset about something, and it may have been something you have done.

Moro Rogers
Moro Rogers
2 years ago

TOY STORY 2 made me cry. I was lying.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago

I have assumed that it is a parent’s responsibility to teach values to their youngsters who then reasses these and either accept, adapt or rejct those. I suppose it is important to actually have consistent values and perhaps many youngsters reject those of their family without replacing them. Consequently, in difficult times they have nothing to assess as possible reasons for the difficulties.

Cantab Man
Cantab Man
2 years ago

With all of the craze, I was curious about Tik Tok and downloaded it few months ago. Haven’t been on Facebook for years and don’t do Instagram.

Quick dopamine hits are the name of the game as I swiped with curiosity. Witty jokes, amazing stunts, cute cat videos, “I am righteously angry” videos, dances galore…gotta keep us coming back for more.

…that said, after a few days the study was over. I understood that the algorithms are built to fine-tune the dopamine hits and keep me on the app. But my body doesn’t produce that dopamine just for activities that lead to my betterment and, in this case, the app was a massive time-waster and tool to feed insecurities or idiosyncrasies without the give and take of real, loving relationships and real-world activities.

I deleted Tik Tok then and there before it could suck me in.

(PS, kudos to the article’s author…her articles here are always thought-provoking)

Last edited 2 years ago by Cantab Man
William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

What do females always assume it’s the responsibility of someone/society to help them and when necessary to save them?
Why, when difficulties arise, do they eschew agency and look to others?

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
Kiat Huang
Kiat Huang
2 years ago

Instagram (and social media sites like it) become a problem for people when they both consume it’s content and also add to that content – the kind of users that Instagram mostly needs and wants. This share and read user can easily get drawn deeper into narcissism. Instagram becomes for many a one-way mirror: you look in the mirror and everyone sees you.

Pure consumption or pure posting can be less damaging.

Pure consumption is akin to reading a newspaper without writing in. No problem, totally realistic and true for the majority of users. Like viewing TikTok videos but never adding one yourself. Naturally, tendency to heavy voyeurism creates its own set of problems.

Pure posting is Instagraming your photos but *never* looking at the reactions, never looking at Instagram content: which is completely unrealistic and I’d be surprised if even 0.01% of Instagram users actually maintain this.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

The cure for all this neurosis is religion, specifically Catholicism, – regular prayer, attendance at mass, and regular hard physical exercise

Last edited 2 years ago by Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Three times round the church on my bare knees, reciting Hail Marys while giving myself a damned good thrashing with a wet barbed wire switch works for me.

Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
Annemarie Ni Dhalaigh
2 years ago

Keep your fetishism to yourself please

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

For sure.
I have no intention of foisting it on anyone else.

Margaret D
Margaret D
2 years ago

Absolutely!

Adam Bartlett
Adam Bartlett
2 years ago

Excellent and important article. I agree with all Mary’s points, but to throw in a few counters. At least in left leaning circles, young women (& men) still hear many voices advising that they can use their anger to positive effect. Perhaps most especially in the green movement. There’s now even quite a rich body of studies finding eco-anger is the most positive of the eco-emotions, both for individual wellbeing & in motivating collective action.
At the risk of the stating the obvious, it’s probably essential that most of the time anger is not used for activist purposes, other wise we’d have social chaos. So Dr Julie type advise is needed too.
The prospect of care-bots – AI’s operated social media accounts that make posts in ways that encourage positive behaviour by contagion mechanism – may vastly improve social media in the not to distant future.
Though maybe many young people benefit from a long socially competetive phase, and it might be good to keep a few sites human only, e.g. Tattle Life. Just some random comments – the best advise for young people to unplug and do more RW activities has already been given.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Adam Bartlett

The net result of their eco anger has been:
– Closing down of nuclear plants while countries like Germany still rely on Lignite and Putin’s gas pipelines
– Nonsensical “low emission” targets and huge subsidies for Wind etc that increase energy prices and risk for poor and old
– steps like lots of cycle lanes that no one uses, closure of side lanes etc which cause harassment while actually raising traffic pollution
– Increasing use of downright fraudulent and unhelpful sources like “biomass”
– Closing down roads etc thereby making ordinary people, who are actually supportive of ecological causes, becoming resentful

Maybe ask them to try eco smartness instead of eco anger, might work better

Alan Bright
Alan Bright
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“– steps like lots of cycle lanes that no one uses…”. Several years ago the route on which I commuted, with very few others, into C London was being turned into a Cycle Super Highway. “That’s great”, I thought, “But it’s an awful lot of money to spend on just me”. Ten years later there are ten times as many ‘cyclists.”If you build it they will come.” Not always true, but it was in this case.