True Stories: Hell Hath No Fury

If you say something idiotic, I'm getting mad because you're an idiot, not because I'm a woman.

by Litsa Dremousis

I was on the brink of orgasm when Rex decided we needed to talk. As we writhed on a blanket on my living-room floor, my black velvet t-shirt sliding up my torso and my skirt several yards away where Rex had tossed it like a grenade, he lifted his head from between my legs and said, "I have something I have to tell you."

"I'm seeing someone," he said quietly, as if lessening the volume would lessen the impact.

Rex and I had met almost a decade prior and had dated briefly after college. We amicably split up when he moved to California for graduate school, but had remained good friends and had marathon phone conversations every few months. Now he was back in Seattle for the summer, and because we were both single, we had decided to pair up while he was in town, both of us agreeing on the built-in expiration date when he returned south. Rex was deeply intelligent and we could discuss scads of topics, including our feelings for each other and relationships with others. We trusted each other and, as such, I could usually read his vocal inflections. At the moment, though, I couldn't tell if he was serious or kidding because the blood that usually occupied my brainpan had flooded my nether regions.

"Do you have to tell me right now?" I asked. Unless he'd just struck gold or spotted a goblin, I saw no reason this conversation couldn't wait one more crucial minute.

"Yes. It's something I should have told you weeks ago," he answered solemnly.

I propped myself up on my elbows and met his eyes. His face was etched with contrition. Not the look you want to see on the guy who was just performing tongue gymnastics on your tumbling mat, as it were.

"Okay, what is it?" I asked, both dumbfounded and curious.

"I'm seeing someone," he said quietly, as if lessening the volume would lessen the impact.

I nudged his head away, sat upright and wrapped the blanket around my waist. "When did you start seeing someone? You didn't mention anything before you flew into town." I didn't know what I'd expected to hear, but it wasn't this. Rex and I had always been honest with each other and his revelation was contrary to everything that defined our relationship.

"I know. It all happened so fast. I kept wanting to tell you, but I've been studying constantly."

"So you couldn't pick up a phone when you got home?" The blood, it seemed, had returned to my brain.

 "No, I couldn't," Rex said, then paused. "She just moved in. We're living together."

"And you waited until you were going down on me to announce this?"

"I wanted to give you pleasure. I wanted to give you pleasure everywhere."

I backed away from him, stood up and despite the late hour, yelled, "This is your idea of philanthropy? What the fuck are you, UNICEF?" Rex looked genuinely alarmed, as if he hadn't anticipated my reaction. And though he held a black belt in karate, he seemed a bit frightened.

At the time, my mom was a deputy prosecuting attorney and my dad was supervisor of the criminal division's sentencing unit. Except for a few parking tickets, I'd been a model citizen. While I contemplated my odds of acquittal if I fed Rex's nuts to my neighbor's Australian Shepherd, Rex continued baring his soul.

"I moved away. I never stopped loving you. I'm still in love with you. So I'm not really cheating on her." He seemed genuine, as if actually believed his own contorted logic.

"Fine. Let's call your new housemate and see what she has to say about that theory." I picked up my living-room phone and handed it to him.

Realizing I'd called his bluff and that, no, he wasn't getting laid tonight, Rex stood silently.

I glared at him. "Get the hell out of here. Now."

He retorted that he wanted to stay and "talk this out," but I pushed him down the long hallway toward my front door. I thought that if he stayed, for the first time in my life I was actually going to hit someone. I grabbed his jean jacket from the coat rack and thrust it at him, then opened the door and pointed out into the night.

Commentarium (129 Comments)

Jan 06 12 - 1:12am

I like this.

Jan 12 12 - 12:30am
Christopher S

Litsa, here's the deal: I'm a gun-owning(and carrying) sexist white male living in Texas.
What I interpret from your story is this:
-you might deny this, but you still have some self doubt about the appropriateness of your actions. Get over that, you defended your self-worth, both as a female and as a human being. We teach people how we like to be treated.
-While their expressions at the time might suggest confusion, their actions afterward are nothing of the sort. These men know, deep in their hearts, whether their actions are honorable or not. And it explains the lack of a forthright response after the initial confrontation. Bold men don't lie, manipulate, or hide. They don't need to.

Men greatly appreciate women that understand the concept of self-respect.

Problem is, you have to demonstrate that to a few to prove you know what it means..

Jan 13 12 - 12:22pm

I recently had to break up with someone I liked a lot simply because they thought they could treat me like a booty call. My parting shot was 'I am sorry I allowed you to think you could treat me so disrespectfully'. End. Of.

Also from Texas!

Jan 06 12 - 1:14am

Wow, this is like having the old Nerve back again. No crap movies, commentary about glitterati, or music reviews. Just good, thoughtful, witty, meaningful writing about gender, sexuality, and contemporary culture. Bravo!

Jan 06 12 - 6:05pm


Jan 06 12 - 8:21pm

I agree!

Jan 06 12 - 11:19pm
TLI. ffeekc

So do I... skip the boring always-anti-Republican-no-matter-what political bullshit and stick with the sex. It's really the only thing you guys are particularly good at.

Jan 07 12 - 11:18pm

Also totally support this comment!

Jan 08 12 - 9:38am

I love sex!

Jan 06 12 - 1:34am

Always nice to see a quality piece on the site.

Jan 06 12 - 1:59am

"If this were checkers, he'd have been king, albeit of the dipshits." - new epic retort for the "you're PMS-ing, aren't you?" comments from the Y chromosomes. Classic! PLEASE tell me I can use this verbatim and credit you...

Jan 06 12 - 7:02pm

By all means, MDM: quote away verbatim and credit me. Thanks for asking.

Jan 06 12 - 2:00am

Best thing I've read in a while!

Jan 06 12 - 2:02am

Litsa Dremousis is a brilliant writer, a force of nature and a voice of reason. She bravely teaches us by relating her most intimate experiences. Her works are multi-layered explorations: hysterical laughter combined with "did she really say that?" open to reveal deep insight and real solutions to the challenges she writes about. May her pen never run dry.

Jan 06 12 - 1:29pm
Gila Monster

I don't think you put enough effort into your post

Jan 06 12 - 8:49pm

I was in a rush. I'll try harder next time.

Jan 08 12 - 9:39am

I'm not sure which was the article and which was the comment. Sheesh.

Jan 06 12 - 2:50am

Well, Litsa, you have written another brilliant, moving piece of literature that I'd better not email to your Dad.

Jan 06 12 - 3:40am

Witty and hysterical! Litsa has that turn-of -phrase ability that catches the reader off guard, and which distinguishes her writing as witty, rather than just clever. A joy to read.

Jan 06 12 - 5:05am

Agree. Love this.

Jan 06 12 - 8:21am

Love it. Great sentiment!

Jan 06 12 - 8:58am

Well, as long as men get told by their mothers, sisters, girlfriends etc that women are delicate flowers and have to be treated like princesses and not like equals they wont be treated as eaquals. Period.

Jan 06 12 - 2:52pm

Oh.... so it's a woman's fault. Classy.

Jan 06 12 - 3:22pm

Shorty might not have put it as diplomatically as possible, but the underlying point is true. It's not that it's "women's fault", it's that you can't be a princess AND an equal. And there are a hell of a lot of women out there who still think it's their birthright to be treated like a princess -- as "special", in other words -- and who would balk at being treated with the same irreverence with which men treat each other.

(And that's not even touching the idea of violence, which comes up in passing here, and which operates between men differently -- as a check on disrespect, among other things -- than it operates between men and women. I trust most women wouldn't want to adopt the between-males violence paradigm in their own lives.)

Otherwise, I like the piece, and think it makes some good points...though if it were fiction the ideal denouement would be a scene in which the author almost cries her way out of a speeding ticket, but then decides not to for the sake of gender equality. But that, of course, WOULD be fiction.

Jan 06 12 - 6:40pm

In total agreement that the women who perpetuate the notion we're princesses are part of the problem. On the other hand, women aren't a monolith and they're entitled to their views. Re the speeding tickets: I've been pulled over twice, once by a female officer and once by a male. In each case I got out of it, not b/c I cried, but b/c I can reason effectively.

Jan 07 12 - 3:15am

As Litsa says -- "women" aren't anything. The idea that there is not a single woman who doesn't cry their way out of a speeding ticket (seriously?) is sexist. When you generalize the inappropriate behavior of some women out to all women, that's when shit gets sexist. Some men expect to be coddled like children well into their 20's, but would it be appropriate or fair or accurate to say that all men do that? No, obviously not.

And re: the idea that women should have to adopt violent "checks on disrespect, among other things" in order to be equal to men -- that buys into the nonsense that in order for a woman to be 'equal' to a man, she must make herself a man, essentially, buying into all of the status quo elements of masculinity. I don't think it's a good idea for anyone in the modern era to solve their issues through violence, regardless of gender.

Jan 10 12 - 3:38pm

My point wasn't that there isn't a single woman who doesn't cry her way out of a ticket (most of the women I know don't do that), but that in the great effort to do away with rigid gender roles, somehow the things that work in a woman's favor -- like crying her way out of a ticket, or being treated with greater leniency for many crimes -- don't get the same fervent, passionate attention as things that seem to work against her. To be blunt, most women will take advantage of conventional gender role expectations when it's convenient or beneficial, and cry injustice when it's not. And women writers seem to have zero interest in interrogating that; it's all about the terrible injustice of being a woman in an affluent society, and never about the unexamined privilege.

But then, that's typical of human nature, and the human race. I'm always amused by the self-serving way in which people co-opt social justice movements, using the rhetoric of oppression and injustice when it's really about increasing their own personal power and standing. I just wish people would be more honest with themselves about it.

(P.S. Yes, "women" aren't a monolith. Of course, neither are men, but I usually don't see women jumping up to say so. No, being "equal" doesn't mean turning into a man; no, violence isn't usually the answer. But I also think that men and women have very different conceptions of respect, and when a woman joins a historically male-only space, she typically expects to be treated according to HER conception -- in which she deserves respect and deference simply by dint of her existence -- and not HIS conception, in which respect is earned and you're teased relentlessly until you earn that respect. I think that's a fundamental schism between the quote-unquote "male" and "female" perspectives that'll probably never get bridged, and maybe that diversity is valuable. But we seem to have decided as a society that women's perspectives should be privileged over men's -- that every conflict, when it arises, should be resolved in favor of women and at the expense of men. And that's a shame, because it doesn't actually help any women; it just makes the privileged few feel smug, and the rest keep working at Wal-Mart.)

Jan 10 12 - 3:53pm

BTW I still think this is a very good piece, and Litsa does a good job of being even-handed. But I can't see Nerve publishing a piece from a guy about the dumb shit the women in his life have said, at least not without hastily saying "B-b-b-but it's really patriarchy, of course."

Jan 10 12 - 4:13pm

1) I made it abundantly, emphatically clear I'm not perpetuating stereotypes against men while trying to eradicate those applied to women.

2) "But we seem to have decided as a society that women's perspectives should be privileged over men's -- that every conflict, when it arises, should be resolved in favor of women and at the expense of men. And that's a shame, because it doesn't actually help any women; it just makes the privileged few feel smug, and the rest keep working at Wal-Mart.)" This is not only factually incorrect, but appalling, overtly sexist. Not covertly sexist, but overtly and hateful. The American Medical Association--not exactly a feminist organization--decrees the highest source of injury to American women is domestic violence. The FBI estimates one in four American women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime. And we're not even addressing pay inequity.

As I stated elsewhere in the comments--and if you're going to make blanket statements about both genders and gross allegations against me, it's incumbent upon you to read my other comments and those of the other readers here--we're very lucky to be addressing these problems and not, say, those in Afghanistan, where half of all women are "married" by 16 or those in Somalia, where tens of thousands of people don't have time to bury or grieve for their children as they flee the famine and violence to escape to Kenya.

I'm fully aware of my privilege as a white woman living in this part of the world. I'm first generation on my father's side and everyone on that side of the family lived under Nazi occupation and then Greece's subsequent civil war. My namesake died at the age of 26 after being quarantined. My father tells stories of people eating their own lice just to have food and about drinking well water, despite the fact it had worms, because it was the only water available. I've visited several mass graves in Greece several times, where Nazis stopped school buses, emptied out the children, made them dig their own graves, then shot them. That's one generation from me. I don't need some misinformed heel "informing" me. I'm abundantly aware of how profoundly fortunate I am, despite being disabled and my partner being dead.

Lastly, and this is the least important point, but does it seem like I can't take "kidding" from men? Or that most women can't?

You are one of the most ignorant and most easily threatened men I've encountered in any setting. I feel sorry for you.

Jan 10 12 - 4:22pm

@Completely, you're second comment came up before I finished my reply to your previous one. Glad you purportedly enjoyed the essay while publicly declaring you didn't understand a word. And if your idea for an essay has merit, pitch it to Nerve. Quit whining and toss your hat in the ring.

Jan 10 12 - 5:19pm

Litsa, I'm not really interested in getting into it with you, but a few points:

- I had to laugh when I saw you mention Afghanistan, because I almost wrote something to the effect that "A lot of women seem to think that, because women have to wear burqas in Afghanistan, they should win every argument about gender by default."

- Similarly, I'm not surprised to see you bring in rape, domestic violence, and so forth. It's the Godwin's Law of discussions about gender, a way to shut down the conversation, silence opposing voices, and assert moral high ground.

- I'm sorry your family had such a difficult past, but you don't inherit status from the sufferings of your ancestors. In fact, I think it's pretty tacky to use it to score points in an Internet comment thread, personally, but horses for courses.

- And given the tone of your post, you're not exactly making a great case for the idea that you're a calm and reasonable person whose rage is simply a reflection of others' ignorance.

I'm genuinely sorry you're so offended, but I'm not particularly sorry about the content of my post (which was not, as you may have figured out by now, an attack on you).

Oh, and: I don't know about whether you can "take" the kind of inveterate, no-holds-barred ball-busting common in male-only spaces. Probably, you can. But most women don't WANT that, and don't feel comfortable having "I fucked your mom" be a part of their daily workplace banter. So when a woman enters a previously male-only space, the question is: should it conform to her preferences, or should she conform to its practices? Sexual harassment law pretty clearly indicates the former. And maybe that's for the best, but I think it's representative of a slight dishonesty about these things. Women, just like men, want to remake their spaces in their own image, but men don't usually cloak their strivings in the language of social justice.

Jan 10 12 - 5:31pm

Oh, and one last point: as a former domestic-violence victim advocate, you assuredly knew that if you had clobbered your boyfriend, your odds of going to jail for it would be fairly small, and that the police would be more likely to arrest him than you. The fact that women get the shit beaten out of them every day doesn't somehow magically cancel that out. I don't know whether you ran that calculation in your head at the time when you were deciding whether or not to hit him, but given that the male victims I've known have almost never pressed charges to begin with (including the one who was fucking stabbed), it'd be a worthwhile example of a way in which gender roles aren't just "Men oppress women and should shut up until burqas and rape don't exist anymore, the end".

Jan 10 12 - 5:33pm

The fact you laughed when I mentioned Afghanistan says it all. And why are men busting each each other's balls "funny" but when I tear you a new one, you cower and can't refute a single factual point? Like I said, pony up and write your essay if you're so convinced your points have validity.

Jan 10 12 - 5:44pm

Again, we posted at the same time. I helped several male domestic victims get convictions against their female partners. (And against their gay male partners for that matter.) As I said in the piece, I'm assiduously against domestic violence, regardless of the perpetrator's gender. And it's fascinating you view rape as part of Godwin's law. I used to volunteer the King County Crisis Clinic and Northwest Women's Law Center. Out of the hundreds of rape survivors w/ whom I worked--women AND men--none would view their horror as a mere statistic for you to dismiss as if we're discussing NBA playoffs. Also, "rage" and "anger" aren't synonyms. I'm done here: I've got several other deadlines.

Jan 10 12 - 5:50pm

You didn't actually make any factual points to refute. Of course domestic violence and rape are real; so is oppression of women in places like Somalia. But these things don't exist for you to invoke in Internet arguments as a way of claiming the moral high ground. The situation in Afghanistan isn't laughable, but your invocation of it turns it into little more than a punchline.

(What would deserve more respect is actually going there and doing something about it. You did hands-on work as a domestic violence advocate, and props for that.)

I would be very careful, by the way, about asserting that you are "fully aware of my privilege as a white woman living in this part of the world". Are you really 100% sure of that?

BTW, I never said that men busting each others' balls was funny. Of course, it CAN be funny as hell. It can also be tiresome as hell: all things under the sun.

Anyway, I don't think this is a good use of my time or yours. Peace.

Jan 10 12 - 5:54pm

Once again, our posts crossed over. Bottom line: I'm not accusing you of anything, except maybe an unpleasant rhetorical trick or two (and that only in these comments), and a mild propensity for self-righteousness.

I don't doubt your sincerity, or your willingness to defend male victims. I just think that, in general, most people overestimate their own understanding of their own privilege, and I don't think women are in any way immune from that -- including the privileges they have AS WOMEN, because it's possible to be privileged in some ways and oppressed in others. Crazy idea, I know.

Anyway, now I'm done for real. Be well.

Jan 12 12 - 9:57am

I want to take a class for you about keeping a calm, corteous and well-reasoned tone in a debate over controversial topics. Hats off to class.

Jan 12 12 - 9:58am

*from you, not for you.

Jan 12 12 - 2:35pm

Thank you. I really appreciate it!

May 28 12 - 1:45am

i agree with the poster (, he's a neutral and i think you're misunderstood him Litsa. i totally agree with your points in this article, but he simply provide pov that you haven't completely come to terms with. i understand well enough how it is to grew up with the skewed values (that biased to both gender perspectives) to realized the negative impact on a guy's life, enough to make me struggle to unravel my mindset to rebuild it toward truer perspective, a gender neutral one. still struggling to this day.

Jan 06 12 - 9:12am

Love this. More like this article, please!

Jan 06 12 - 9:54am

More like this!

Jan 06 12 - 10:45am

FANTASTIC piece!!! Incredible.

Jan 06 12 - 10:45am

Guy does something really stupid. (And I mean REALLY stupid.) You get mad. Guy doesn't want to be seen as the cause of this commotion, even though he was, so he tries to shift the blame somewhere else, and you're the only logical one there. Which is really stupid. :-) It's not really a male/female thing, more of an "I don't want to admit that what I just did was wrong" thing. Women also do it to men, men do it to other men, etc. Thanks for a great article - one of the best on Nerve these days!

Jan 07 12 - 3:15am

Well said.

Jan 06 12 - 11:44am


Jan 06 12 - 11:54am

Great read! I loved it. Thank you!

Jan 06 12 - 12:33pm

I enjoyed this piece, too.

Is it possible that what the men in these cases are reacting to with surprise isn't that you were angry, but, in fact, WHY you were angry?

Jan 06 12 - 12:36pm

How did you enjoy the piece without reading it?

Jan 06 12 - 1:54pm

I read it extra.

Jan 06 12 - 1:55pm

Mind you, I'm not saying that IS the reason, I'm asking. Like a literal question.

Jan 06 12 - 6:43pm

JM's point--and it's spot-on--is that I address your question directly in the piece. Thanks for weighing in, though. (No, that's not Internet snark: I genuinely appreciate it.)

Jan 08 12 - 9:48am

thinkwritey pwned

Jan 09 12 - 10:10pm

Nope, not pwned fakeprof, just responded to, and accepted.

Jan 06 12 - 1:52pm

Well put!!...I work in an almost all male dominated field with an office full of men; My personality is normally very upbeat and easy going, but on the occasion that something makes me very angry, granted it takes a lot to get me there, the men fall apart!! They act like I've turned into some two headed monster!!

Jan 06 12 - 11:03pm

Oh noes! A woman holding me accountable for the dumbshit things I say and do! *sarcasm*

Jan 06 12 - 2:27pm

I'm pretty sure the burping guy said that as a joke about how women don't burp in front of men. When you overreacted he probably just ran with it to screw with you. Sorry, the rest of the piece is good but that part was pretty obviously you taking a joke literally.

Jan 06 12 - 7:07pm

No, it wasn't. He was completely serious. He and I are still friends. You could ask him about his reaction you wanted. And it takes a special kind of arrogance to think you'd know him better than me.

Jan 06 12 - 10:28pm

You mean fart, don't you? The urban legend refers to farting. Is this your cendorship or the Editors? Sure is strange.

Jan 06 12 - 11:03pm

What is w/ the two of you? It's a true story. The discussion, all those years ago, was about burping. Why would I or the editors possibly "censor" farting when the essay open w/ the guy going down on me? Jesus, use your heads.

Jan 07 12 - 12:30am

I really enjoyed this piece. I remember joking about throwing a television out the window at my friend's cabin in grade nine, and her older brother (who I had an insane crush on) responded by saying, "that's what I love about you, aggressive women are so funny". Needless to say, the crush ended abruptly.

Having said that, why are you so defensive in the comments? I understand where Drakma is coming from - the "women can't burp thing" seems made up. I'm sure it's not, but I don't think I've ever met a guy who could believe that.

Jan 07 12 - 12:37am

Okay, I think the "it takes a special kind of arrogance" comment rubbed me the wrong way. But having reread the comments you responded to after posting my own response, I see why you were annoyed by the assumptions of strangers. Sorry. Though the "women can't burp" thing still seems extraordinarily strange to me.

Jan 07 12 - 1:09am

Caitlyn, no worries. I enjoyed your television anecdote and why it ended your crush on the guy. And thanks for having read my other comments here: they're almost entirely complimentary to a bunch of smart, savvy readers.

If three of you think the burping story sounds weird, I'll cede it might sound weird to some. I guess what I find funny is it's entirely true, as is the rest of the piece. I guess b/c it's my life and my college boyfriend and I dated so long ago, it's not an anecdote that leaps out as strange.

Anyway, best to all of you and thanks for sharing your views.

Jan 08 12 - 9:51am
Buck Nasty

It's utterly weird. Clearly, it was originally 'farting' and you've been politically pressured to dial it back to burping by the neo-con fascist profrobert righties.

Jan 06 12 - 2:40pm

Well played, and good job at standing up for yourself. I think that should be the point, is standing up for yourself and not for your gender, as women often do the same thing by shifting responsability to whoever is closest. It is often times a human reaction to not want to be the source of the problem. Like the Richard Pryor piece: "You mean that broken lamp right there? I didn't break was broken before I was even born."
But your writing style leaves nothing to be desired and was thought provoking in it's utter entertainment, and again I say kuddos to you!

Jan 06 12 - 6:52pm

Great screen handle! Underscoring your point, women are human and some do screwed up stuff, just like men. May we all live long enough to see everyone of all genders stand up for themselves and their beliefs. And let's remember how lucky we are to live in a part of the world where these are the problems we're addressing. As opposed to half of Afghanistan's women being married by the age of 16 or the ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa, where people don't even have time to properly bury and mourn their children as they flee Somalia into Kenya. On a lighter note, thanks for the compliment. Gratefully received.

Jan 06 12 - 2:44pm

This was fantastic. More like this please!

Jan 06 12 - 7:09pm

Thanks, Laura, and everyone whose reaction has been so enthusiastic. Glad it resonates for each of you. Cheers!

Jan 06 12 - 2:54pm

HELL. YES. Thank you!

Jan 06 12 - 4:10pm
Eric Spitznagel

As much as I love this story, I especially love the comments. "More please! More like this! More, more, yes, yes, yeeeeeeeessss!" Litsa's stories, it would appear, are like oral sex.

Jan 06 12 - 6:55pm

Or garlic mashed potatoes. Either or. (Thanks, Eric!)

Jan 06 12 - 6:43pm
Buck Nasty

Welcome back to adult land!!!

Jan 06 12 - 7:40pm

Thank you so much for this; I wondered for so long why they always seemed driven to make me believe something's wrong with me. I still don't understand why, but I guess sometimes it's easier than facing and solving the actual issues.

Jan 06 12 - 8:40pm
Ivan P

This is without doubt the best written piece I've read on Nerve for some time. Bravo, Litsa.

"More please! Yes, yes!!"

Jan 06 12 - 9:41pm

Why do Nerve's comments boards seem to attract the only intelligent people online? Publish a kick-ass essay like this on and every basement-dwelling misogynist would be coming out of the woodwork. You lot restore my faith in humanity.

Jan 06 12 - 11:05pm

I feel the same way. Nerve readers are, by and large, a wonderful lot.

Jan 07 12 - 12:39am

this was sooo....i don't even have the words to tell you how great it was.

Jan 07 12 - 4:27am

This is a beautifully written piece! I totally agree with her points. It's the same if a woman takes control of a situation or says whats on her mind, all the sudden she's a bitch. When in reality when men do that then they're perceived as go-getting.

Jan 07 12 - 4:35am

i may be naive, but i don't think many people in my generation (i'm 25) would expect a woman not to show anger when it is warranted (or not to burp?!). yeah, women are erroneously considered more sensitive and compassionate than men. but, i think that the culture generally allows women to access/display their full range of emotions. i think the gender stereotype re: emotions is stronger for men (display no emotion other than anger) than it is for women (don't get angry). could be wrong, but that's my impression. thoughts?

Jan 07 12 - 2:01pm

I think this mostly depends on what type of 25 year old people you're around. I'm in the throes of college, and I've met extraordinarily intelligent people who are aware of the fact that men and women are emotionally complex creatures. So, when a woman expresses anger or a man does something 'un-manly' in these groups, the reaction is generally intelligent and non-gender specific. This being said, I've also met young people (18-25) who are immature to the point of rage, who genuinely believe gender stereotypes and often have misogynistic/homophobic/trans*phobic reactions to just about everything. I've found that choosing your friends wisely is one of the most essential skills for the current crop of young people.

Anyways, hope that gives you some sort of answer. Great piece, Litsa. Work like this is why I started reading Nerve in the first place, and it's nice to see this site getting back to its roots.

Jan 07 12 - 10:07am

This is fantastic. That was 10 minutes of my time, well-spent.

Jan 07 12 - 12:16pm

More of this, please! Such a fan of this writer's pieces when they grace the site.

Jan 07 12 - 2:28pm

Thank you so much, Jinna! Like I posted above, I'm so glad it resonated for you and for others. Hugely gratifying, deeply humbling. Wishing each of you the best!

Jan 07 12 - 1:01pm

My reaction (and just to be clear I loved this article) was that: 1) they were both elaborately lying; 2) they both had the good sense to stop lying before things got any worse--that was where the bad timing came in, because they both saw that if they didn't stop lying right then they might get into bigger trouble than they were meaning to (and had probably just realized that); 3) they were so wrapped up in the lying/when-do-I-stop-lying thing that they would have been surprised by any strong reaction, because as you so clearly point out they were living in a fantasy where they could manipulate women endlessly without being called on it.

To some degree I think men are raised to think their environments are toys for them to play with as they wish and can often be surprised when the toys turn out to be independent human beings.

Jan 07 12 - 2:30pm

Thanks, DaveC, for raising so many salient points. You've given us all much to think about. Cheers!

Jan 08 12 - 9:53am

Dave, shut up and leave. Litsa, get down on me.

Jan 10 12 - 3:49pm

"To some degree I think men are raised to think their environments are toys for them to play with as they wish and can often be surprised when the toys turn out to be independent human beings."

Meh, both men and women tend to view other people as objects to be played with, rather than as independent human beings. Men may be more overt and physical in their manipulation, women more covert and social, but the basic default state of most human beings is to not really give a fuck about other people. If you think women are innately loving and empathetic, you need to meet more women. By and large, they're every bit as narcissistic and shitty as the average man; they're just subtler about it.

Jan 07 12 - 1:14pm
Louise G.

It's a sad state of affairs when women are patting themselves on the back for burping in front of the opposite sex and reacting with violence to relationship issues. Congratulations, you are as crass and boorish as the average douchebag.

Jan 07 12 - 2:33pm

Bemused you condemn women for burping in front of a boyfriends. Thank you for perfecting time-travel, arriving from 1958 and sharing your views.

Jan 08 12 - 9:54am

It was farting! Admit it.

Jan 09 12 - 1:00pm

Urgh, a fake me

Jan 07 12 - 1:51pm

Thumbs up for the writing!

Jan 07 12 - 2:44pm

Why does the fact that you are close with your brother and father qualify your feminism in the third from last paragraph. In an article that takes people to task for displaying attitudes they may not even be aware of, you seem to be doing a pretty good job of it yourself.

Jan 07 12 - 9:47pm

If I understand your question correctly, it's a good one. Are you asking why I noted I'm close w/ my dad and brother and have many guy friends? And why I didn't just say I'm a feminist and leave it at that? Believe me, I'd prefer to say I'm a feminist and leave it at that. However, I've learned over the decades that "feminism" is still too often mistaken for "male bashing". Which, of course, is ridiculous b/c all sentient beings know feminism has nothing to do hurting men. In conversation, I don't qualify the fact I'm a feminist. In an essay, however, you learn to address certain questions preemptively. Thanks for asking.

Jan 07 12 - 2:46pm

You come across as a bitch, Litsa, even though I agree with your thesis. The 2nd example you cite strikes me kind of weak grounds for getting mad (hence me calling you a bitch) but I respect that people react differently to the same situation. The guy in the bar was being pretty considerate to let you know the deal right off the bat like that and he was right: you don't know the details of whats going on between him and his wife.

Jan 07 12 - 8:17pm

I once had a very nice six month relationship with a woman who's husband and she were in the process of divorcing. I wouldn't have called the house phone since he was there frequently and would have been awkward for the both of us. She was quite married, and they were both dating. But neither wanted to have to deal with the others new flings.

Jan 12 12 - 5:36pm

@Slav... She can react how she wants to. He was flirtatious at a bar. It's perfectly reasonable for anyone to assume that he was a single guy. He didn't tell her about his marriage BEFORE asking for her number. If he had done that, she would have been able to choose for herself if she wanted to give her number to a married man. She also didn't go berserk and start throwing bottles at his head. He said "You don't know the whole story." Her response was simply, "And I don't want to." Calm, cool, simple. What was his response? "God, you don't like being a woman, do you?" And you think SHE'S a bitch??? Way to prove her point, Slav.

Jan 15 12 - 11:31am

I wonder if the husband gave his wife the same 'consideration' as Litsa.

Jan 07 12 - 3:56pm

Such a great piece! Any time I have called a guy out for conveniently forgetting to tell me they have a girlfriend or wife, I've been chastised and called crazy. Not to mention being treated like crap if i chose not to go home with someone I'd been talking to at a bar...why can't women's emotions be treated with respect and validity instead of being brushed off as unexpected and unreasonable?

Jan 07 12 - 5:05pm

This author's two examples strike me as classic "gaslighting"

Jan 09 12 - 10:19pm

An excellent companion piece.

Jan 10 12 - 12:01am

@Evey and thinky: AWESOME! Thanks for the link!

Jan 07 12 - 5:11pm

Love this piece!

Jan 07 12 - 9:58pm

Best thing I've read in a while on this site!

Jan 07 12 - 11:44pm

Preach on, sister.

Jan 08 12 - 9:56am

Peach on, sistah.

Jan 08 12 - 12:00am

Does this happen a lot or are we all just dating the same dipshit? I distinctly remember a guy being on top of me and stopping to say, "there's something I have to tell you..." Yeah, information I could have used ten minutes ago or not for another ten.

Jan 08 12 - 2:09pm

"Does this happen a lot or are we all just dating the same dipshit?" Eggshell73, I think you've asked one of the more pertinent questions of our time. Nice job.

Feb 05 12 - 11:59pm

The answer is, yes, you have been dating the same dipshit. He is considering moving to Los Angeles, so beware! Somewhere very early on men learn two things: 1) Women are not interested in prior relationships; and 2) When your penis is inserted somewhere is not a time to discuss relationship issues.

Jan 08 12 - 5:45pm

Gorgeous, insightful writing, as ever, Ms Litsa. It reminded me of my early newspaper days, when a male photographer filed a complaint because "two strong female editors had their desks back to back, creating a block of intimidation." To this day, 18 years later, I can't fathom how the mediator didn't just yell "grow a pair" at him... or tell me to shut up, when I quoted Ani Di Franco lyrics in my defense.

I am not an angry girl
but it seems like I've got everyone fooled
every time I say something they find hard to hear
they chalk it up to my anger
and never to their own fear

What a classic mid-90s, Left-Coast pie fight!

Jan 10 12 - 4:18pm

Axita, the male photographer and the mediator sound like total half-wits. Good for you for sticking to your guns. And I love that you quoted DiFranco. That ups the "well done!" factor. As you aptly said, what a classic, mid-90s Left Coast pie fight. Love it!

Jan 08 12 - 7:07pm
Karen cronacher

A brilliant piece--I love your beginning hook sentences--with some pretty stupid coments about farting and bitchiness which you shoudn't have to bother defending.

Jan 09 12 - 1:05am
Karen M

Great essay! Please consider publishing a book of your essays! I'm 45 and STILL have a problem expressing anger, but I'm learning, sister, I'm learning!

Jan 09 12 - 11:51am
Michael G.W.

Your reaction(s) were totally appropriate, logical and predictable. Are (some) modern and educated men really that stupid... apparently some of us are. Absolutely no apologies necessary and a wonderfully written article. You are the kind of femminist society needs more of...

Jan 09 12 - 2:24pm
Christian Hertzog

Lede and first paragraph of the century!

Jan 10 12 - 4:24pm

Thanks, Christina! Again, I can't adequately convey how much it means that this one resonated for so many of you and that you took the time to express it. All my best!

Jan 11 12 - 1:55am

Wow, what a great piece! Definitely an engaging read. Not to mention important. I'm not sure how many people I've linked this to. I've lost track...

I found it interesting that you (probably unwittingly at the time, though I did notice that other comment0rs have already made reference to it) invalidated your assertion of being a feminist by following it up with "but I'm extremely close with my dad and brother". Operative word being "but".

I'm certainly not giving you any flack for it (quite the contrary actually). It is one of those things that evidently managed to slip under the Proofing Radar, which gives some pretty telling insight into just how engrained are culturally constructed attitudes toward sex, gender, and feminism. Even the most aware among as are not immune! (God knows, I make similar verbal slips at least once per day.)

In any case, again, great read! I felt compelled to blurt out the words "THANK YOU!" after every other paragraph. Keep on!

Jan 11 12 - 4:28am

H.M., Thank you so much for your enthusiastic feedback and for sending out the piece. What a huge compliment on both counts. Means a lot. I think your question has only been raised by one other reader--and pardon me if I'm wrong--but it's a smart one and I'm quite glad each of you asked it. For time reasons, I copied below my answer from above. Thank you again! All the best.

"If I understand your question correctly, it's a good one. Are you asking why I noted I'm close w/ my dad and brother and have many guy friends? And why I didn't just say I'm a feminist and leave it at that? Believe me, I'd prefer to say I'm a feminist and leave it at that. However, I've learned over the decades that "feminism" is still too often mistaken for "male bashing". Which, of course, is ridiculous b/c all sentient beings know feminism has nothing to do hurting men. In conversation, I don't qualify the fact I'm a feminist. In an essay, however, you learn to address certain questions preemptively. Thanks for asking."

Jan 11 12 - 11:29pm

Well put. Throughout the world across timeline women issues have been a subject of discussion, but as a girl I always wondered why should I have to ask for my rights, what is mine is mine! When nature entrusted a women with what I feel is the most important duty of evolution who in this world has the right to challenge her equal existence. If we are 52% of the world we are already a majority. From my understanding of cultures ,Western/Eastern by living within these societies, if I were to identify one generalized point to positively empower women, it would be to generate support from within our gender, we tend to throw each other under without much thought, we need to step back and change that. Lastly, Feminism is not a fight against Men, its is a call to change the static mindset of society.

Jan 12 12 - 2:39pm

Snigdha, you're incredibly salient and eloquent. You addressed several complex issues beautifully in one paragraph. Thanks so much for sharing your views here.

Jan 12 12 - 6:29pm

I liked the piece. I found it funny and insightful. My only issue here is that it started as a great story,then moved to a supported debate (burp guy), and ended preachy. I am conflicted as I like both the beginning and the end but think they are separate discussions ...err stories. Still, nice job.

Jan 12 12 - 8:25pm


Jan 13 12 - 3:19pm

Ha! Awesome! I'm currently writing a series of short films that explores the perceptions that North American society has of violent women. They are described as “man-like” and “monsters”, as if somehow deep rage, frustration and aggression are not within the scope of “normal” female behaviour. It's still a pretty common idea that bitches be crazy.

Jan 16 12 - 3:21pm
Kate 2012

Hi Litsa-
Sorry so long in responding but I couldn't go with out having a say.
Thanks for a wonderful article- I am in grad school and doing my dissertation on how women find their voices, and how culturally we have a problem with angry women. There are too many examples to cite, but your article captures the dilemma perfectly.
You go girl-continue to speak your mind!

Jan 17 12 - 6:04pm
Jeff at DTM

The problem I've always had with these sorts of write ups is the assumption by one side or the other that it's a man/woman kind of thing. Unfortunately, what you encountered was a human thing, plain and simple.

For starters, your anger wasn't out of bounds because you're a woman, it was just out of bounds. You're perfectly capable of making a point without losing your shit, however, both men and women lose their shit all the time and the receiving party is always shocked at the levels of anger.

Where women usually cross the line is usually on the revenge towards men because of various indiscretions. I've heard way too many stories of in my life where a woman tells the story of how she got revenge on her cheating ex by destroying his car, or poisoning him, or vandalizing his house, or screwing it up with a new girlfriend, on and on and on and on, when the actual acceptable response is just to break up with him.

You know how everybody marvels at stories where instead of someone divorcing somebody for one reason or the other, they kill them or have them killed? This is in that same wheelhouse. It's out of bounds for anybody to do this kind of stuff, so knock it off.

Same case with anger. We're not surprised that it's a woman getting angry... we're surprised by any person we're not used to being angry getting angry.

Believe it or not, I'm know for being quite low-key, however, if you push me too far or treat me unfairly, I can lose it with the best of them... to the point where I've scared people I love and respect. "I just can't believe you got that mad!" isn't because you're a woman, it's because you caught the guy off guard.

Another point to make, please don't use these two idiots as representations of the male gender. You were hooking up with an obvious d-bag and another d-bag was trying to pick you up in a bar. If I called the entire female gender a bitch because of the way you treated them, it would be just as insulting.

The battle of the sexes would be over if we could all just agree that we're all equally fucked up.

Jan 17 12 - 8:23pm

I really don't think this is a gender issue. That's easy for me to say, as a man. But I have seen women do exactly what this article so eloquently describes.

I briefly dated this girl who was, by her own admission, working through some emotional issues at the time, and she expressed anger at me for many, many things, which I tried to meet with understanding and conciliation. Anyway, after we had transitioned from dating to friendship (via a lot of arguments), I at one point got very angry at her because she had put me through a "test." That is, we were going to get coffee and she texted to say she was feeling tired, and I responded not to worry and I hope she feels better, and she responds that she wasn't actually tired, just testing me to see how much I wanted to see her. Apparently I should have pushed to go on with the meeting despite her being tired. So I call her, very angry about her game-playing, and though I got her to apologize (sort of), the whole time she was making little jokes about how mad I was, just like the guy in the article. I felt really belittled, especially since she dishes out so much anger but apparently can't take it from anyone else. By the way, this was the first time I had really gotten outwardly angry with her; most of our arguments to that point had been her yelling and me nodding.

I tell this story at length because I think people, not just men, do this. Or rather, immature people do this. It's an obvious defense mechanism: they want you to back off and apologize for being so angry, because it lets them off the hook a little bit. The genders of the people involved really don't matter, and I don't think it comes from sexism. I would be more ready to blame sexism if the guy was like "yep, girls are crazy" or "must be that time of the month." Stereotypes of women (at least in the US) wouldn't seem to condition men to think of women as meek lambs, more like aggressive harpies.

Jan 23 12 - 7:50pm

Nerve is finally publishing intelligent stuff again. Excellent piece of writing, as well as some poignant observation. Your point is spot on - gender is irrelevant regarding stupidity. Any man (or woman) that plays the gender card as defense is someone I don't want in my circle of friends. Take ownership of your own shit, people!

Thank you for a great article.

Feb 02 12 - 2:41pm
Just another "Crazy"

Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying what so desperately needed to be said. . .