Just. Don’t.

Photo By Gina Easley www.GinaEasley.com
Photo By Gina Easley www.GinaEasley.com

By Catherine Newman

This is just one thing that happens: a software developer writes me a nasty, condescending email in which he says he’s sorry only that I understand nothing about technology.

Years ago I had purchased a lifetime subscription to an app of his, and my querying email about downloading it onto my new computer (“Would you please tell me how to …?”) has been met with his suggestion that I will need to purchase an upgrade for my new operating system; the old version of the app doesn’t work any more. “Hmm,” I have written. “Do you think that’s what I understood ‘lifetime’ to mean?” And he has replied that yes, it should be. He has explained that I do, indeed, retain my right to use the old, unusable system for the rest of my life, so I still have exactly what I paid for.

I’m shaking. That’s how mad I am. “He never would have written me like that if I’d been a man,” I say to my husband Michael, who nods slowly in a way that makes me want to kill him.

When I tell a friend this story over lunch, she says, “I’m sorry, no. What if the post office were suddenly, like, ‘Oh, a forever stamp? No, no. That’s from before. You can still use it, but your mail won’t go anywhere.’”

“You’re saving my life,” I say, and she laughs and pats my arm.

•••

Something is wrong with me, only I don’t know what it is. Or how to fix it. In the middle of the day or night, rage fizzes up inside my ribcage. It burns and unspools, as berserk and sulfuric as those black-snake fireworks from childhood: one tiny pellet, with seemingly infinite potential to create dark matter—dark matter that’s kind of like a magic serpent and kind of like a giant ash turd. This is how it is for me right now.

Or how it is sometimes because also I smile a lot. I make an applesauce cake with brown sugar icing, because I know the kids will say, “Yay! Yum!” when they get home from school—and they do. I write a beloved editor a note to remind her how grateful I am for our years of working together, and she responds, “Oh god, me too!” I walk in the woods with my fourteen-year-old daughter, and we alternate between admiring the electric green fuzz of springtime and speaking intently about the complexity of gender, which she is turning in her mind like a Rubik’s cube. We whisper in our pussycat’s ear and laugh when he pushes our faces away with his bored paw. I read fantastic novels in bed like the world is ending and there are just these fantastic novels to read before it does. When I finally click off my headlamp, I experience the luxury of wrapping myself around my husband’s warm, dreaming bulk. I’m friendly and funny. I’m easy to work with.

Only, also, I’m not, even though I always was before. But now I’m biting my angry tongue. I’m sitting on my angry hands so I won’t wrap them around somebody’s infuriating neck. There is acne bubbling up from underneath my lined and angry red face. “I pretty much just hate men,” I say, smiling, and some of my friends laugh, some tighten their foreheads in puzzlement. Sometimes, in the night, my mind is like a butterfly net, lunging after injuries so I can pin them into my aggrieved display case.

Part of it is hormones, I know. I wish they were visible, like when the radiologist injects you before a scan, and you can see the dye pumping fluorescently through your veins. Sometimes I actually feel as though I’ve been injected with something—not dye, though, as much as testosterone. Amphetamines. I worry that I’m going to land on the other side of menopause, blinking in the sudden sunlight, wondering where all my friends and family and work went.

But then it makes me so mad even to write that, because part of it is not hormones. Part of it is the fact that so many men are assholes. I am just so sick of it.

•••

Something I’ve written gets passed from an editor I’ve worked happily with for ages to her brand-new boss, who suggests that my stuff is a little too “voicey.” “Your voice is good, it’s great!” he’s assured me, in the note accompanying his almost grotesquely word-for-word edit of my piece. “But it’s a little much, you know?” Cue the black-snake firework. Yes, the pellet is already there, sure, but it’s these jerks who put a match to it, who trigger its furious unfurling.

The wagons circle on Facebook, where I complain about the editor. “We love your vagina!” I write, by way of analogy. “I mean, it’s great, it’s beautiful. But could you do something about the way it looks and smells?” I get amen from the women. Some of the men mansplain to make me laugh, which I do. And one man writes, in earnest, “Tell me about it! In my profession, you get mansplained, womansplained, childsplained, everybodysplained.”

“That gives me kind of an All Lives Get Splained feeling,” I write, irritated by his willful erasing of power from this problem, and he doesn’t write back. I’m torn between anger and regret—Ugh, my temper!—but then the regret only makes me angrier. Why should I feel bad? I write funny, mean emails to the editor and then, without sending any of them, quit my long-standing gig there.

•••

A friend of a friend dies—a woman my age with an arrestingly beautiful and vibrant presence—and I stalk her mourners online in a strange way. “She was the kindest person I have ever known,” somebody writes, everybody writes, and I wonder if she was ever angry or horrible. I hope she was; I hope she wasn’t. A man she knew for a matter of months writes a long explanation of who she really was, inside. I hate him, hate everybody. I wish I were the kindest person anyone had ever known. I worry that Michael wishes I were more wifely: pretty and perfumed, willing and gentle. I’m furious just imagining this. But also sorry.

I watch a Youtube video about a large dog trying to sneak past the sleeping housecat on his tippy-toes because he’s afraid of her. There is something comically familiar about this scenario.

•••

“We don’t have any cold cuts for school lunch,” the seventeen-year-old says, peering into the refrigerator.

“Oh, your highness, a thousand pardons!” I cry from the kitchen couch, where I am sitting beneath the cat, and my gentle, sweet-hearted son raises his eyebrows.

“Just that I’m putting them on the shopping list,” he explains, and I sigh, say, “Sounds good. I’ll get some ham.”

•••

My daughter’s young, butch guitar teacher stays after their lesson to kvetch with me about men and politics. I’m frying onions at the stove, wearing an actual apron, and I brandish my spatula, say, “Fuck them all,” and, bless her, she laughs. Courtesy and wrath crash together in me like cymbals. I’m a fucking etiquette columnist, for god’s sake! But while I do believe in goodness, in compassion, I don’t believe in smiling while men spray their hot and aggressive horribleness into your face. My daughter manages to inhabit kindness and fierceness without splitting apart at the seams. She is my role model.

•••

A friend recommends a particular garlic press on Facebook: “I have bought probably half a dozen presses in my life, this is the only one that didn’t make me angry.” I laugh, and am relieved that other women are angry too, about whatever. There’s a nasty woman joke in here somewhere, but I can’t bear to put Trump in this essay. He is its missing center.

•••

My parents visited once when we lived in Santa Cruz, and Michael and I took them to a fancy seafood restaurant at the wharf. We sat at an open window over the sea, eating crab claws and lobster bisque, the sky the unbelievable blue of a child’s painting, while a seagull stood in the window the whole entire time, choking on a starfish, hopping around on one foot, intermittently gagging and barfing, three of the starfish’s five legs jutting from its mouth. “This is lovely,” my lovely English mother said unironically, and I think I laughed. Absolute perfection with a gagging seagull in the middle of it is pretty much my entire life.

•••

Here’s a confession: my interaction with the software developer escalates, and I end up letting him know that I’m a journalist. He writes back a blisteringly angry email, calling me out on threatening him obliquely, and I apologize. “Life’s too short for this,” I write. “Forgive me. I was angry. I shouldn’t have written that. But I don’t think you are communicating honestly with your customers, and I hope you do.” He never writes back, and I am seething and, now, also humiliated. I know you’re supposed to forgive people, even when they don’t ask for forgiveness. But it is so hard.

•••

My boss walks into our office while I am looking at a Fuck the Patriarchy needlepoint pattern on Etsy. I already have a framed cross-stitch on my wall that says The way to have a friend is to be one, and I believe deeply in both of these sentiments. “I’m turning back into an angry feminist,” I say, and he says, “I wasn’t aware you’d stopped!” He’s a poet and I have been his secretary for fifteen years.

“When you’re done complaining, make me some damn coffee!” he says, but he is kidding. He fills the pot, makes the coffee. He’s as fierce and gentle as my daughter, as anybody I know.

I don’t always feel just one way. I’m not always sure. And maybe that’s what it is to be a grown-up—living in the middle place, where you can’t decide quickly about everything. A misanthrope, in love with the world.

•••

CATHERINE NEWMAN is the author of the memoirs Catastrophic Happiness and Waiting for Birdy, as well as the food and parenting blog Ben and Birdy. She is also the etiquette columnist for Real Simple magazine and a regular contributor to the New York Times, O, The Oprah Magazine, The Boston Globe, and many other publications. Her first middle-grade novel, One Mixed-Up Night, will be published by Random House in fall of 2017. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family.

Read more FGP essays by Catherine Newman.

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99 thoughts on “Just. Don’t.

  1. This was just what I needed to read this morning. Thank you for illustrating so well the whipsawed emotional state that seized me when menopause first appears, and still roars back to life years later. I only wish I could have been as controlled and civil as you’ve managed to be; I (metaphorically) burned down a bridge, its adjoining house, and some nearby fields in a sustained righteous fury. I’m not sorry, but I do wonder whether I could have handled the situation differently. Carry on!

  2. I needed this so much today.

    I was stunned to find out that you had an additional job to being a writer. I’ve been reading you as you’ve popped up since my inaugural subscription to brain, child.

  3. This fellow angry woman would just like to say this essay, and especially this sentence–“Sometimes, in the night, my mind is like a butterfly net, lunging after injuries so I can pin them into my aggrieved display case.”–is GOLD.

  4. My mind kept exploding as I read this. OH. MY. GOD. I feel a little less guilty this morning, and more accompanied in the world. I LOVE THIS ESSAY!!!

  5. Love this! The words “I hate middle-aged white men” have been escaping from my lips a lot lately … despite being married to a good one. But I could even throw him out the window sometimes. Nice to know we are not alone!

  6. Perfection! I have been following you since you were pregnant with Ben- we had babies at the same time (Birdie) and my Lucy. You always seem to nail my particular existential crisis of the moment and you did it again. I wonder what our daughters think as they view our lives through the lens of feminism as they understand it? Like I told Lucy-with feminism the devil in in the details. In the end, a lot of times its the woman in the apron frying the onions, nursing the sick child, washing the favorite shirt, buying the wedding gift and the lunchmeat and making the domestic world spin. How to reconcile and honor this important shit we do at home with the other important shit we do in the big world- that is a detail feminism has yet to resolve. Maybe Birdie and Lucy can?

    1. Kim,

      I feel the same way about Catherine’s writing…and your comment, too! Thank goodness there are people who can put this stuff into words… My Emma was born at the same time as Birdie and Lucy, and I wonder the same for her.

  7. Poets have secretaries? You have a couch in your kitchen? You are blowing my mind! (But mostly from the other stuff you said.)

  8. I love you, I love you, I love you. I can’t even begin to imagine how you witched your way into my brain and perfectly articulated the clusterfuck of mixed emotions (rage! Anxiety! Compassion! Trying to not give a fuck what other people think but unfortunately very deeply conditioned to give a fuck what other people think!) going through my body at all times currently. I feel so torn between wanting to just chill the fuck out and enjoy life like so many of the people around me do and then also wanting to shake them by the collar and ask what’s wrong with them. I feel like a crazy person 90% of the time and the other 10% I feel like I’m being more authentic than I ever have been and slowly starting to ditch the people-pleasing behaviour that’s been ingrained in me (especially being brown, and female, and Canadian). This is the longest comment but thank you for this piece. I’m so glad I read it first thing in the morning. I’m so glad I’m not alone.

  9. You’re not wrong. One of the smallest, most benign examples of how men own the world is in how they sit. Legs spread far and wide, arms resting on both chairs on either side of them. This.Is.ALL.My.Space. You however may take up 1/8 as much room. So silly that I focus on this, but come on! It really does sum it all up. I get you though, and the rage. Your utopia is that everyone does the right thing. But that since we’re not perfect, if we don’t to the right thing, we own it and apologize, learn from it. To do better when we know better. In the vacuum the absence of that creates, rage seeps in and fills the space quite nicely, yes?

    1. I had a man interview me once. It was sort of a group setting. Three people from their company, one of me, in between some cubicles sitting in office chairs.

      He leaned waaaay back, put his hands behind his head and pretty much made his balls impossible NOT to look at.

      He asked me a question, I looked at his female coworker and said “Seriously? This is how you allow him to interview people? No. Thank. You.”

      She followed me outside and gushed “OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU.”

      Madam. Tell your coworker to SIT PROPERLY in a chair. Superior or not. He’s not going to fire you for it. If he does, well guess what? LAWSUIT.

      One of my employees once sat at a hotel front desk like this. I said to him “Keep sitting like that and you’re going to end up on the floor.”

      “How? I’m not rocking the chair?”

      “Because I’m going to KICK THE CHAIR from underneath you. Sit UP.”

      GAH!

    2. Jodie, I’ve also noticed that same sitting thing, and now I can’t (and don’t even care to) un-see it. Maybe it’s small and benign, but lately it makes my 47 year old blood boil because it seems so bossy and self-centered.

  10. Also! Your friend’s “forever stamp” comment made me laugh because we DO have permanent stamps in Canada (though I think they were recently discontinued) and if the post office abruptly stopped accepting them, even us mild-mannered Canadians would BURN SHIT DOWN. And by that I mean there would be a metric fuckton of complaints sent to the local newspaper but we would obviously still say “please” and “thank you” to post office employees.

  11. I just love you.

    I was laughing aloud as I read, and my mostly wonderful, vacuums-without-asking, loves-me-to-bits husband wondered at what. So I read aloud the “That gives me kind of an All Lives Get Splained feeling” section. And he only laughed politely.

    I could feel the firework pellet beginning to sizzle at the edges.

  12. This reminds me of a description of female hormones (mainly estrogen, but also probably progesterone) as a layer of protection against the bullshit of the world. So the rage of PMS and menopause are felt as an appropriate response to the bullshit stimulus.

  13. Oh my God YES! My oldest starts college this fall, my youngest will be a junior, and my husband can not wait until they are both graduated, so I can travel with him for work…..in our camper….for long periods of time……in the camper…
    Hopefully menopause will be over & done with by then, cause I really do love him, but I’d hate to leave his aggravating ass somewhere.

  14. This reminds me of a description of female hormones (mainly estrogen, but also probably progesterone) as a layer of protection against the bullshit of the world. So the rage of PMS and menopause are felt as an appropriate response to the bullshit stimulus.

    Also anyone who says your voice is “too much” can go …. far away.

  15. THANK YOU for this. Planning to reread every time my post-election rage/fear/anxiety spiral starts up again. So, like, 10x/day probably.

  16. Oh god thank you, it’s not just me. Something is bubbling up to the surface in this country–it’s happening with SO many women I know. Just so tired of men being dismissive, arrogant assholes. And I’m tired of fucking smiling.

  17. Sometimes, when I am at the bottom of myself, I feel so alone I could scream. Then, somehow, magically, writing like this appears in my life and I feel so much less afraid. It is such a validating force, and I am relieved. Thank you so much.

  18. Yes! Where is my torch and pitchfork! Every day I have to bite my tongue from telling at least a dozen people to just fuck.right.off. And then turn around and feel in love with some random gesture or interaction or especially lovely person. I am an emotional yo yo but lately the anger is winning out and most of it these days is quite frankly reserved for the seemingly well meaning seemingly sensitive straight white men in my life who just don’t get it and really on a fundamental level just don’t care to get it. It feels like facades are being ripped away and we are all standing here exposed in our self serving ugliness, angry and afraid and feeling tired of feeling powerless.

  19. This is just what I needed today (have needed for months, actually). Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of another angry woman’s heart.

  20. Much fun. Love the racing pace. Though a serious subject, I know, but still the almost screwball comedy style works so well. I wonder in my own case how all the years of being schooled to disown, deflect, and bury my own anger means that now it comes out of me, and other women, like scattershot, missing perhaps its target. Very nicely done and hello.

  21. I love you. This is so perfect. I am in my 30s, with a small child, mostly home with him. Everyone acts like this should be the happiest time of my life, but I’m so angry. All. The. Time.

  22. I -on the other side of menopause – am way less nice than you are so I congratulate myself every time I don’t body slam some presumptuous, condescending, predatory, arrogant prick of a guy.

    1. I’m with you, Meredith, at the stage of my post-menopausal life where my bullshit quotient is 0. I now say what younger me would have wished I said when walking away from some Neanderthal twit. My husband warned that one day I’ll be shot. I told him it will be an honor to take one for the team. Namaste.

  23. I found this blog just today, also at the perfect moment. I, too, am so full of rage, and sadness, and then feeling sorry about it, then completely justified, and thought I also think this is partly hormones, it doesn’t actually make it any better. I wonder if I’m just noticing with more clarity? I dunno. But I cannot tell you how freeing it is to read your words that mirror my own feelings lately. Thank you. So. Much.

  24. Your writing is so powerful, and on the mark. Don’t ever stop. I have been thinking about this essay all day, and I want to thank you for that.

  25. How fun! My mother used to say the dirtiest word she could, “Shoot! and dot the “i”. I knew then that she had had it. I felt that way today, and your article gave me the laugh and the space I needed between me and those “men” out there (like trump — I refuse to use upper case here). Wonderful treat. Enjoyed your column!

  26. In my food co-op last week, I asked the young man working in the supplements aisle if he was going restock the multi-vitamin I’ve been taking for years. I did not get “yes” or “no,” I got a lecture on how I’d be better off spending my money on food. As he talked, I looked at his face and thought, I’m almost 60, I’m in good health, I’ve been feeding myself and spending my money for years without his help. What makes him think his opinion is valuable to me? What is the spurious source of his authority? But I was, of course, too nice to say anything other than that I would go home and do my research. All the way home, I looked for another middle-aged woman to vent to – just anyone, whether I knew them or not – but karma must have kept them all indoors. Thanks for this essay. Stronger together, right?

  27. Loved your style since Brain,child days too. Thank you for all this. Sometimes what helps me is “returning” a shopping carriage to one of those parking lot corrals by pushing it as hard as I can. I get the most exhilarting feel the more spectacular the crash is .

  28. Oh my god! Yes to all of this. Once I hit my 40s, I started feeling all kinds of rage–I thought it was sudden but I realized it had always been there under the surface building with each slight and insult and condescending remark from a man–family members, friends, strangers. I always laughed it off or smiled it away but lately I can’t do it anymore. The anger surprised me at first, made me uncomfortable. But now I’m seeing that this is not an indicator of some character flaw in me. I’m just so fed up.

  29. In your analogy, I sort of feel like the potentially perfect life is evolving around me while I alternate between being the unfortunate starfish and vomiting idiot seagull.

    But for some reason, reading this piece and getting that conclusion from it was a strangely reassuring.

  30. Thank god, I thought it was just me drowning in lava waves of volcanic rage. I needed to read this today. And I need a bumper sticker that says “Some days you’re the seagull….sometimes you’re the starfish”! Oh, and men, even the ones we love, need to be put in a barrel and pushed over a cliff at least once a week. Just sayin.

  31. All of my friends, how do I not know you in real life, when you’re living here in this virtual village of rage, love, sentimental mist and baffling hormonal surges. Dear and doting middle-aged husband, newly-snarky 8-year-old daughter and a monster kitten named Birdie living in a happy home that can barely contain my rage, sadness, fat, dragging depressive caffeine and alcohol fueled self. I wish we were all going for a long walk on a sunny morning together for a laugh while I tell you how worried I am that I offended a blow-hard asshat who is obviously perfectly fine but who means something to people who mean something to me, and I’m confused/in a rage about it. Love you ladies already!

  32. If this is caused by menopause and not the state of affairs of the world, then there is hope for me. Thanks for letting me see that I am not alone.

  33. I have been angry to the point of tears recently about the tone of voice my husband uses to talk to the Amazon Echo, which has a female name and voice. His tone is superior, demanding, dismissive. I don’t think he’d talk to it that way if it had a male name/voice.

  34. Oh, I loved reading this… I didn’t realize how much I’d missed you! My son is a bit younger than Ben, a bit older than Birdy and Brain, Child was my lifeline when I was becoming a mother (of 3) and trying not to lose myself.

  35. I could have written this! I have never been so burning, seething hot with anger in my life. Every day is fight or flight, anger or fear. I wonder if I’ll ever feel relaxed again. I am 50 and have been through menopause; this is way bigger than hormones. It is a shift, and we must pay attention.

  36. THANK YOU! I can’t count the number of times the two men in my home (my husband, to whom I’m barely young enough to be married and my son, to whom I’m barely old enough to have mothered) have sat on the patio just staring at me ranting and raving, fists flying in the air, followed by emotional sobbing in reaction to fucked up shit I deal with or react to every day. They are both feminist men, but still men of course, who try so hard to understand. They are both gentle Capricorns who do not have an aggressive bone in their bodies. They look at me like I’m a wild banshee on a regular basis. I am not a soft and gentle spirit like them. I am fierce. I love hard, I am a warrior for those who aren’t and need an amplifier for their voice, their suffering or injustices done to them. THANK YOU for reminding me I’m not crazy.

  37. Man, the anger. The level at which I am refraining from physically assaulting people is ridiculously high on the scale of restraint levels. I love how you’re able to realize when, even if after the fact, it might be your own aggression vs someone being dumb. I aspire to be that open but I fail, lots.

  38. Menopause has made me much calmer, and has allowed me to see situations with a little more distance. I find I’m more compassionate. But along with that, I see power dynamics with more subtlety. Men are still assholes, and a little more often than I noticed before.

  39. This is exactly what I needed to read today, the day on which my facebook status is:

    Nothing says Friday quite like an unlikely–but truly quality–mansplain, a glorious “I’m never getting off this floor again” panic attack, and the news that yet another misogynist asshat gets rewarded with the ability to miscarry justice at an even higher level. #blessed

    Thank you.

  40. This is what it’s like to be a woman. We feel rage, then we feel bad about our rage and doubt ourselves. All in all, I’d say it’s better than being a man and not really ever questioning our feelings. But I highly recommend that you get ahold of a copy of Meet Me in Saint Louis. There’s a scene in which Judy Garland beats the crap out of some guy which is very satisfying to watch when you are in a certain mood. And thanks for the article- it’s perfect.

  41. This speaks to me deeply. I have been so angry almost all the time for months. I think it’s a combination of the political situation, hormones, and my deep despair that my daughter is going to grow up in this stew of sexism and body shaming and harassment that society brings just like I did. Why aren’t things better?! I get volcanic-ly angry every time I think about it.

  42. Some of that anger (or let’s say the intensity of it, the “suffer no more fools” of it) comes from that huge drop in oxytocin (the conciliation hormone that makes us play nice) during and after menopause. There’s a reason 60% of all divorces happen post menopause; women lose that oxytocin induced sweetness and get fed up and choose not to put up with the bullshit anymore. Evolution did that so we females can spend our elder days imparting the wisdom and take-no-prisoners we lacked in our youth. Men lose it too, hence the “grumpy old man” syndrome.

    Just thought I would mention that biological part of the anger; the reason for the anger is legitimate; patriarchy SUCKS, stupidity SUCKS, meanness SUCKS.

    1. Oh yeah, racism SUCKS, homophobia SUCKS, ageism SUCKS, ableism SUCKS…..did I forget anyone?

  43. Loved the article and comments. I, like others, thought thank God it’s not just me. Then I got to CareCare7’s post about the extreme drop in oxytocin during and after menopause and all I could think was- well I’m fucked. If I’m this angry now….

  44. I thought it was just me. Sad and happy not to be alone in the middle-mess of life. I so greatly needed to read this today. Thank you. xo

  45. This article so aptly says how I feel! It was wonderful to read something that puts into words the daily rollercoaster of my life. How is this so?!? Can we love and hate men in the same hour or minute? Apparently we can! Thank you, thank you for this!!

  46. OMG! Thank you! Although I’m sure it is menopausal, and I’m one of the 60% who divorced because, as someone said, “you didn’t make too many mistakes, you just made the same one too many times”, we are now good friends and I probably shouldn’t have rushed out the door. My concern is that by discussing it in terms of hormones, it gives men yet another excuse to pat us on our heads and say “there, there” and dismiss our real concerns and anger. We are experiencing a frightening time of negative legislation towards women in this country right now, and it isn’t just because of one person; there are dozens in power who are gleefully working on destroying all that I love about this country. Compassion has always been my mainstay. My anger feels justified but I’m also angry at my inability to do anything. I think Mrs. Smith needs to go to Washington!
    But thank you for the article, and for all the replies. I read every single one of them, and it’s a feeling of relief that it isn’t just me. Let’s all meet somewhere for a glass of wine or two, and figure out how we can collectively kick some ass!

    1. Re. The “pat on the head” part… Nailed it. I’m so sick of being told to “calm down.” And pissed off that the far side of 40s for a woman means being dismissed as irrelevant while are men are bestowed with more respect.

    2. I know what you mean about the hormone thing. I’ve always said “I don’t have PMS” because I couldn’t ever stand to have my feelings dismissed as “PMSing”, and now I feel the same way about menopause, but like other commenters said, the absence of certain hormones really does just let our feelings fly, rage included. WE know it’s partly hormone-related, but too many men (and other women!) can’t handle that fact without using it to totally dismiss us. Ugh!!

  47. Perfect. Bad news is it can’t be menopause since I just turned 70. I think I have just found my voice. I am saying what I think and post election what I have to say isn’t sweet and pretty. Glad I am not alone.

  48. Its amazing how we can be from all walks of life and yet- share these same emotions. I have been married 35 years, I know him in and out. But, this year- when he questions my decisions I snap! Its annoyed me at times but now I snap. I feel like he’s being authoritative. When men talk to woman co workers I watch their faces, they try not to show it but there is something – angry or betrayed. Maybe its hormones or it’s not. I’m pissed. I don’t want to be oppressed.

  49. I don’t feel sorry for your husband. He’s a grownup. I do feel sorry for your son, and for all the young boys whose moms think it’s possible to hate “men,” and laugh about hating “men,” without hurting their sons. Unfortunately it can’t be done. Those sons know that they will soon age into the hated group.

    It is of course real and legitimate and important to feel one’s hatreds, and many a man has earned the hate that flows his way. Imagine a father, though, who laughs as he says that he hates women, but loves his little girl. Would his daughter believe him, deep down? Should she? Hating men = hating sons.

  50. I have a major girl crush on you right now. Wish I lived in Amherst so I, too, could offer to buy you a cuppa joe. Thanks for making my morning. Now I must go and look up that Fuck the Patriarchy needlepoint.

  51. I read Real Simple for your column alone. I love your writing there and now I love your whole self here. I’ll read this again and again because your have put to words so many complexities about this crazy female life! Enjoy your cake and F the patriarchy and so many other things. Here’s to red hot emotions and cool nurturing hands all coming from the same person: us women.

  52. I *loved* this. I have felt so angry over the past months that I’ve caught myself swearing at inanimate objects. My internal monologue is so caustic it could eat through the bathtub. Thank you for writing this and for expressing what so many of us are dealing with on a daily basis

  53. I utterly and completely understand the rage. I work in a male-dominated field and the longer I do, the less able I am able to come up with non-sexist excuses for things and the angrier I get.

    That said, being a software engineer myself, in that particular exchange, he would actually have said the same thing to a man. I would have said the same thing to man or woman. That actually is how buying software works. Maybe his upgrade cycle is offensively fast or something? It is a failing of the industry to communicate well to not techies in general though.

  54. I’m 65 and well past menopause. I live in Canada. Yet I too have simmering writhing snakes of rage. Oh and I meditate daily for at least an hour. A number of years ago – six or seven – I was going to hear a lecture on women journalist by the fabulous Heather Mallick. My dear fella said ” I don’t know why you like her – she is so bitter.” I answered ” That IS why I like her. Do you know me?”

    Thank you for this.

  55. “A misanthrope, in love with the world.” I feel this SO DEEPLY. Love the whole thing, but that last line nails the whole essence, for me.

  56. I needed this. I am still practicing the diplomacy we as women learn to perfect and I don’t have the energy that it takes anymore. In talking to friends my age it seems to be something we are all dealing with. So rage on mamas!

  57. So I’ve read you for years (Ben a toddler, Birdy a baby) And I’ve looked up to you and how you are the perfect Mother, wife, homemaker employee. I know you have given us glimpses of all of you, with your seasonal depression and your feisty attitude. I have to tell you I LOVE this! Sometime when I read your stuff I’d feel a little bad about myself because I could never be as good as you and I so desperately wanted to be. But this…this makes me realize that I’m not as bad as I was telling myself. Everybody has their ups and downs, we are trying our best. You are awesome and fucking hilarious too! Keep being you, I’ll keep being me and everything will work out! Peace 

  58. I thank you so much for writing this. I read your blog every time you write it and I love it so much but now I love you even more because I know that you are crazy just like me. Thank goodness!!!!

  59. So glad to hear I’m not alone in these feelings.

    I’m in a female dominated field where a disproportionately high number of management positions are held by men, many of them incompetent. This has me seething on a regular basis.

  60. Catching up on my blogs and links today…God, I needed to read this. So very angry. My mom is angry, my 15 year old daughter is angry…trying to gentle the anger is hard and I’m not exactly sure I want to. My daughter, with the eloquence that only comes at age 15, doesn’t bite her tongue. My mother, with the don’t-give-a-damn lack of filter of age 67, doesn’t bite her tongue either. Only I, stuck in the middle-aged sand of trying to not offend everyone on earth while making my feelings heard, bite my tongue, too. Thankful, like you, to have a son and husband and male co-workers that count themselves as unrepentant feminists, also – but somehow it just isn’t the solace that I am seeking. And yes, hormones, but yes, not just hormones. Every bit of this piece rings true. Thanks, Catherine…keep up the angry writing…it’s good stuff.

  61. Catherine. I’ve been reading you since our kids were babies (oh the blog world!) and have just now peeked out of my introvert shyness to say this: yes. thank you. Because for months now, I have been thinking it’s just me, swinging wildly between beatific earth-mother kindness and white-hot blistering rage. Your words have given it a bit of normalcy if not a name. we are all filled with dualities, aren’t we? love.

  62. I adore this article, I hate that the sentiment behind it is so necessary right now.

    I’ve been back to read it 3 times.

    Thank you

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