Sunday, December 18, 2011

Female bullies and how to deal with them

Athol explains the difference between reasonable anger and relationship bullying:
I'm talking about anger as a routine thing, not an occasional response to an obvious inappropriate event. Her being angry after you attempt to drive into the garage without opening the garage door first, would be a perfectly fine use of anger. Getting yelled at four or more times a week for minor and trivial infractions means she's just being a bully.

Note that you don't have to actually "win the fight" in the moment, to actually pass this sort of testing. You just have to continue doing the behavior you want to do, in the face of her anger and/or fail to perform the task she is demanding of you.
There is nothing wrong with women being angry from time to time. Some situations justify it, even demand it. But women often make use of habitual anger as a relationship management tool, and if permitted to burn uncontrolled, that sort of anger can destroy any relationship, be it marital, romantic, familial, friendly, or even maternal. The combination of the harpy wife whose kids can't stand her and the helpless husband who meekly bears the weight of her scorn and anger is all too common. What Athol recommends is an effective anger management tactic and over time will usually reduce the amount of attempted bullying. However, it doesn't necessarily communicate the unacceptable nature of the behavior to the bully, nor is it necessarily applicable in a social situation.

Compounding the problem is that most women are tone deaf. They will shriek like banshees while denying they have even raised their voices, then accuse a man who slightly raises his tone of yelling at them. This scenario is all too common between the sexes.

Man: Why are you talking like that?
Woman: (in angry, nasty voice) Talking like what?
Man: Like THAT!
Woman: STOP YELLING AT ME! YOU ALWAYS BLAH BLAH BLAH....

But if women are deaf to tone, they are oversensitive to language. Men tend to be the opposite; we are sensitive to tone and indifferent to language. So one thing I find works with almost all women is to respond to unacceptable tone with even less acceptable language. Use vulgarity to control tone. This tends to be most effective if you call them out in a polite and even tone and your customary language is not very salty. In such scenarios, the same conversation usually plays out more like this:

Man: Will you please speak in a civil fucking manner?
Woman: (in high-pitched, slightly alarmed voice) Why are you swearing at me?
Man: Because you sound like a rotting cunt.
Woman: All right, all right. Just stop it!

This serves three purposes. First, it changes the frame and sends a clear message that you're not going to accept being addressed in such a bitchy, disrespectful manner and you don't give a damn who knows it. Second, it rings her social alarm bells; if she's being called out in front of other people, her eyes will widen and she'll instinctively look around to see if anyone is noticing her.* Both men and women who are aware that you don't ordinarily speak in such a manner will immediately understand that you have been provoked into it by her behavior; her panicked response stems primarily from the awareness that your behavior is reflecting poorly on her. Third, it teaches her that escalation will be met by escalation. She can choose war or she can choose peace, but aggression will not be rewarded with submission.

Women are perfectly capable of controlling themselves. There is absolutely nothing that prevents them from simply having a quiet word with you in the corner rather than attempting to communicate her displeasure to you and everyone else in the room with her tone of voice.

Because women are taught that gentlemen will mind their language around them - even if she herself swears like a sailor - they tend to perceive vulgarity directed at them by men as being vaguely menacing. It very clearly communicates that they have crossed a line that is not to be crossed. Remember, even verbal communication sends non-verbal signals and non-verbal communication is often more effective when appealing to the less logical parts of the brain.

Using vulgarity to control tone is particularly useful if children are around. And being exposed to a few old Anglo-Saxon expressions from time to time isn't going to harm them any, certainly not as much as being exposed on a daily basis to the behavior of a female bully who is attempting to use nastiness and volume to get her way. And that doesn't even include the socio-sexual damage it does them to see a man cowering before a woman.

*For some reason, many women seem to believe that no one ever notices when they are being nasty bitches, but that everyone notices when it is pointed out that they are being nasty bitches.

29 comments:

Der Hahn said...

This is one thing I struggle with. My immediate family is quite cool emotionally so even minor escalations of tone or volume affect me more than somebody used to regular screaming matches. I'd fall all over myself trying to calm the situation down.

In the case of something justifible (like the garage door example), isn't still a good idea to minimize your response? Especially if nothing bad actually happened?

Vox said...

Yes, of course you shouldn't react angrily to someone who is quite reasonably angry with you. It is normal, but sub-optimal, to get angry in return.

My point is that merely NOT reacting angrily is not always a strong enough response to female bullying. In some cases, it needs to be slapped down verbally, and vulgarity is much more effective than either reactive anger or reason.

Astrosmith said...

Wish I had thought of this at Thanksgiving when my sister in law was being such a bitch and bully to my wife (a lifelong pattern) that we had to leave and go to a hotel.

Stingray said...

For some reason, many women seem to believe that no one ever notices when they are being nasty bitches, but that everyone notices when it is pointed out that they are being nasty bitches.

It's not that women believe that no one ever notices. She is hoping other people will notice how she is controlling the situation and how she is now the top dog in the group. When everyone notices that she is being called out she looks around in hopes that no one will notice that she is not only no longer top dog, but just got slapped to the very bottom of the totem pole.

Vox said...

It's not that women believe that no one ever notices. She is hoping other people will notice how she is controlling the situation and how she is now the top dog in the group.

Hmmm. That answers a question I have long had. Unfortunately, it's not the one for which I'd hoped. It means evil rather than stupid.

I was genuinely inclined to think it was more the result of being oblivious to their own behavior, because I couldn't believe that anyone would consciously find it justifiable. But this is in line with the petty intra-female cruelty that is readily observed from a young age and tends to underline the importance of confronting and crushing such behavior without any hesitation or remorse.

Stingray said...

Hmmm. That answers a question I have long had. Unfortunately, it's not the one for which I'd hoped. It means evil rather than stupid.

For the situation where she calls a man out in front of others one could argue that, yes. However, when a woman does this to a man and they are alone it could be simply that she has lost control of her emotions and at that point is being simply stupid. When this happens she usually needs some time alone (By the man saying what you recommend and then walking away or by simply walking away). She may then be able to see what she did.

consciously find it justifiable.

I don't know that you are going to find too many women who are conscious about it. I think they are absolutely out there and in higher numbers than I like to think about. However, for many woman it is more about what they feel. They feel power when they are being bitchy to a man. A sort of control. Then when the man takes back the control she immediately feels that loss. That is when she becomes embarrassed and looks around because she knows everyone else saw the loss as well. However, just like the hamster and the shit testing, I am not sure that many women could actually verbalize why they do it.

So, I guess, upon rereading my post, they are conscious of the feeling produced but have not given much thought into the why of it other than it feels good.

I would expect that that differs a great deal than a man consciously making a grab for control of a group of people.

bob k. mando said...

Hmmm. That answers a question I have long had. Unfortunately, it's not the one for which I'd hoped. It means evil rather than stupid.

*sigh*

once again, Vox errs on the Pollyannish side. ;-p

actually, i'm surprised that this surprises you. almost all of Game theory is predicated on female fascination with social dominance.

how such common female behavior could be mistaken as anything OTHER than an intentional dominance play baffles me.

but then, i've become far more cognizant of just how much dominance playing goes on over the last 5 years of my life...

Markku said...

once again, Vox errs on the Pollyannish side. ;-p

I can't decide if Vox's eternal optimism is refreshingly quaint, or bemusingly predictable.

Vox said...

how such common female behavior could be mistaken as anything OTHER than an intentional dominance play baffles me.

Except Stingray explained subsequently that it's not conscious in social situations, which is what I suspected. They genuinely don't appear to understand that it makes them look bad regardless of whether someone slaps them down or not.

I was aware that it was intentional in one-on-one situations.

Stingray said...

They genuinely don't appear to understand that it makes them look bad regardless of whether someone slaps them down or not.

In a group of women, the bitching makes them look good. (This I can't explain. I have no idea why women put up with this from each other). They automatically assume it will with men as well. Add this in with their desire for the feeling of power and it is a bad situation.

Vox said...

In a group of women, the bitching makes them look good.

That makes sense, actually. It's in line with the half-adult, half-child concept. They're basically trying to play puppy games with big dogs and they don't realize it's not really a game when everyone can rip each other's throat out.

bob k. mando said...

Except Stingray explained subsequently that it's not conscious in social situations,

and yet, it's still willful and intentional.

it's an application of "the only tool i've got is a hammer" combined with MPAI.

stupid people use hammers in inappropriate situations.

stupid women tear their husbands/sons/boyfriends down in public.

bob k. mando said...

the perfect geek woman?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC8O5HPvfsg

Kiwi the Geek said...

It's not that women believe that no one ever notices. She is hoping other people will notice how she is controlling the situation and how she is now the top dog in the group.

Women are seriously whacked. I'm so glad I spent all those years with my nose in a book, instead of learning how to behave that way.

Yohami said...

Women are sensitive to tone and deaf to content. Whatever you say, they try to figure what you "meant" and tone is 70% of what you meant.

Yohami said...

They might be deaf to their own tone though.

IndyGuy77 said...

So just when is a McClintock-esque public spanking of the wench due?

IndyGuy77 said...

"Man: Will you please speak in a civil fucking manner?
Woman: (in high-pitched, slightly alarmed voice) Why are you swearing at me?
Man: Because you sound like a rotting cunt.
Woman: All right, all right. Just stop it!"

And that is just awesome. I can easily see myself doing that.

I'd use it at work if we weren't surrounded by the cowardly that would rat me out to HR in a second.

The LP 999/Linda said...

I am deaf to my own tone. It is why I must makes attempts at being more sensitive to others. All in all, I believe silence is the way to go.

Female bullies or the aggressive women are annoying. I make it a point to avoid them or I answer them accordingly.

ThirdMonkey said...

"The combination of the harpy wife whose kids can't stand her and the helpless husband who meekly bears the weight of her scorn..."

What you have just described are my parents. I have never heard my father say one negative thing about my mother, yet she has been chewing his ass for 35 years. I used a similar tactic on her the last time she started chewing on him:

Mom: (nasty voice) "If you wouldn't have done X, Y wouldn't have happened."
Me: "Mom, were you there? Because He didn't do X, and Y happened because of Z, not X."
Mom: "Well.."
Me: (monotone voice)"Well, nothing. Shut your piehole, you're just being ignorant."

This conversation happened in front of about 15 of her friends and family members. Her behavior (at least around me) has vastly improved since that incident. We can now have conversations about politics and theology without the bitchiness. I think it's a little too late for my Father, though. "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones." (Proverbs 12:4) He's only 57, and has advanced osteoporosis. I have no doubt 35 years of bitchin' played a significant role. But it's his fault for not taking the lead and tolerating that kind of behavior.

debbs aka zoegirl said...

Most women don't seem to understand that they look even worse when their husbands submit to this kind of treatment. It makes it apparent they are of such low quality that they can't get the kind of man who will stand up for himself.

Giraffe said...

In a group of women, the bitching makes them look good. (This I can't explain. I have no idea why women put up with this from each other).

This sounds like a group of hens setting up a pecking order. Or cows. Its like typical female herd/flock behavior. The dominant female treats the others rudely and she throws her weight around.

Females in a herd will push around the immature males. Once the male get large and gets a set of horns it stops.

So what is going on when a woman does nags her husband? Is she trying to get gored to reassure herself that he has a bit of the bull in him?

It makes her look bad, but makes him look good, which makes her look good.

Giraffe said...

yet she has been chewing his ass for 35 years.

What you have just described is my mother in law.

I've found that standing up to her is effective. Nobody else will. Strange, because I'm not alpha at all.

Giraffe said...

if she's being called out in front of other people, her eyes will widen and she'll instinctively look around to see if anyone is noticing her.

And to make it three posts is a row, I have noticed that embarrassment is something women can not handle.

Women care what other people think of them. The can't stand that someone might have a negative thought about them.

I don't know why this doesn't square with the behavior discussed above. Perhaps they really do think that acting like children is normal and acceptable, while getting the smack down humiliates them.

Anyway, embarrassment is a currency that can be spent. It is the nuclear option.

indyguy77@work said...

Giraffe: That's funny. They are fine BEING bitchy, but flip out if someone bothers to point out their behavior.

My own mother hates that I point out her irrational behavior. She's actually asked me not to bother her by "being all rational" in regards to her going deeper into debt for more college courses that she admits won't help her in her career at all.

What can you say to that?

Stingray said...

What can you say to that?

"Ok"

Desert Cat said...

But if women are deaf to tone, they are oversensitive to language. Men tend to be the opposite; we are sensitive to tone and indifferent to language.

This.

Just this morning I had to whack down some seriously nasty tone that came couched in "acceptable" language. I did it by reflecting back the tone in the form of language as you suggest.

Pretty effective, all in all, but I had to wonder how much I was playing "reality police" in the process.

R. Bradley Andrews said...

I am not sure you have to define it as either evil or stupid, it could very well have elements of both. We are all quite fallen people and that would deal with the evil part. The stupid would be using it when not needed or purely out of habit. (Doesn't evil imply intent to at least some extent?)

I do have a problem with intentional cursing, though I believe you can make your point without that.

I do think about my relationship with my own mother. She has (mostly) given up trying to tell me what to do since I do whatever I want to do anyway. She generally quickly backs down if I ever do push back on something she is pushing. (Does that make me a signma with her?)

Back on the language, I see some command to "watch our tongue" in the Scriptures and I am not sure conforming to modern society, even if it "works" is the right way to go about it.

Sam Smith said...

my 'mum' is serially manipulative, has attempted to destroy every area of my life, manipulates people and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. i have no brothers, just two sisters who are treated like angels. she thinks she can treat me like shit, when i am a male. its a disgrace.

to be honest, i sympathise with chris brown. women can say whatever the fuck they want, try and destroy your self esteem and nothing happens to them. it takes an incredible amount of restraint not to beat the living daylights out fo this bitch. of course, that is what she wants, so i can get arrested and she can carry on manipulating,

dear god it would feel good to break her skull though.

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