Before you drown me out with howls of protest, let me say this : I don’t think we can characterise women like we would potatoes. We’re not all the same and thus we’re not all headless chickens. However, in my limited experience, women tend to internalise stress more than guys. Glen’s not agonising at three in the morning about whether the guy at the cheese counter hates him, just because he mispronounced the word ‘Gruyere’.
Also, speaking as a resident of the Emerald Isle, potatoes are a seriously under-rated commodity. And even if we are a species of potato, then that still allows for hundreds of different varieties under the same label. Right?
Sorry. It’s been a long, long day, it’s approaching tea-time and my head feels like a baggy nappy. I’ll move on.
Anxious women. Born or bred?
A new American book entitled ‘Nerve’ (aka ‘Poise under Pressure, Serenity under Stress and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool’ – catchy, eh?), argues that the sexes are born with identical levels of anxiety, but that girls tend to accumulate it with age. By the age of 11, boys and girls are equally likely to suffer from an anxiety disorder, but by 15, girls are six times more likely to suffer from one.
Why is this?
The author, Taylor Clark, attributes it to ‘the skinned knee effect’. This means that when things go wrong, the sexes are treated differently. Little girls are comforted, but little boys are told to man up and try again. Girls then assume that their actions were at fault, whilst boys blame externals. (I guess this might explain why at school, my sister and I always came out of exams wailing that we’d utterly stuffed them up, whilst my brother would leave half-way through, claiming to have unlocked the key to the universe, let alone the set questions).
The ‘skinned knee effect’ means that girls apparently learn to wallow in their fear, whilst boys ignore it and move on. Another theory is that, by comparing themselves to other women, we push up our anxiety levels.
So what’s the solution? As a work in progress, for once I’m loath to comment. But constantly running ourselves down or trying to outdo each other can’t be helping. Nor is wrapping our girls in cotton wool, whilst little Johnny’s out building a tank in the garden.