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Don’t get the fairer sex angry!

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

Some of us will remember Network, a movie from forty years ago. The leading character, played by Peter Finch, galvanizes the nation, persuading his viewers to shout out of their windows “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Are we seeing this as of Jan. 21, 2017? Did the fairer sex, in fact, initiate it? Demonstrators took part in 637 different marches from European capitals to major cities in Asia and Africa to support the original march in opposing Trump’s agenda and upholding women’s rights and human rights in general.

In Washington, half a million people descended on the National Mall and nearby streets Jan. 21 for the historic march, eclipsing the turnout for Trump’s inauguration the day before! Seems Trump must have thought the photos verifying the crowds had been photo shopped! The march, which reportedly began with a Facebook call by a Hawaiian grandmother in the aftermath of Trump’s election victory in November, spurred similar rallies in major cities across the world. Organizers said the movement seeks to raise awareness of women’s rights and other civil rights, which many Americans fear could be under threat by the new president. Demonstrations against Trump’s presidency were held in Canada, Australia, the UK, Germany, Japan, France, India, Kenya, Ghana, etc. In New York City, there were upwards of 400,000 and in Los Angeles an even larger crowd estimated to be half a million. In Toronto it was estimated that 60,000 (mostly women) also gathered at Queen’s Park to show their disapproval of the election of Donald Trump.

I recall in the late 70s when I ran for provincial election, as I knocked on many doors, much too often the ladies would say they don’t really follow politics and would be voting the way their husbands would vote. I felt at the time it was very disheartening to see this. Thank goodness things have changed today.

Sandra Thomas, PhD, is a leading researcher in women’s anger. “Men have been encouraged to be more overt with their anger. If boys have a conflict on the playground, they act it out with their fists. Girls have been encouraged to keep their anger down. Indeed, anger in men is often viewed as ‘masculine’ – it is seen as ‘manly’ when men engage in fistfights or act their anger out physically,” notes Thomas adding that for girls, acting out in that way is not encouraged.

“Women usually get the message that anger is unpleasant and unfeminine.”

Therefore, their anger may be misdirected in passive-aggressive maneuvers such as sulking, etc. In her view, however, neither approach in its extreme is healthy. It is important, Thomas says, for both men and women to be clear and forthright when they are angry and to use problem-solving techniques in dealing with their anger.

“Things are not getting better in anger behaviour,” notes Thomas, who cites the many incidences today of violence among our youth.

June Tangney, PhD, has called into question common assumptions about women and anger, such as the notion that women have trouble with anger. Women don’t have a problem with anger – they just manage it differently, says Tangney, a professor of psychology at George Mason University. Women tend not to be as aggressive as men in expressing anger and tend to talk about their anger more, she says.

“They are more proactive and use more problem-solving approaches in discussing a problem with a person they are angry with,” says Tangney.

It makes one realize that it has always been men who have started wars! Maybe it is time for us men to take note of women’s anger!

And what makes ordinary women angry day-to-day? In 1993, Thomas conducted the Women’s Anger Study, The study revealed three common roots to women’s anger: powerlessness, injustice and the irresponsibility of other people. Seems to me that applies to all of us!

You can send your comments, angry or not, to bdfox@rogers.com.