A few months ago a parenting acquaintance, let's call him Warren, asked for a favor. I was not able to help him out as I was in Georgia visiting my very sick father. Warren was pissed I could not fulfill his needs, so he did the mature thing and confronted me in a public space. As he walked towards me, all puffed up like a gamecock entering the ring, he said, "You said you could help me out, now you can't?!" His physical approach and his tone were so upsetting that I did the mature thing and started to cry. Like a fragile flower, I cowered, said something along the lines of "I'm so sorry. It's been such a tough time. I...." When he saw the tears, he responded with, "You are such a fucking drama queen". And though the setting and the timing were terrible, it was these words - such a fucking drama queen - that hurt the most. I was so mad at myself for apologizing. I APOLOGIZED! I was so angry that I didn't stand up for myself. I allowed that bully to use intimidation and shame to diminish my feelings.
So I did what any good drama queen would do; I told all of my friends, my therapist, strangers on social media, most of my family, my cleaning lady...okay, not her, but you get the point. Because that's how this fucking drama queen deals with her hurt feelings. I told the story to a group of online friends (all women, of course) and asked them what being a drama queen meant to them.
Responses ranged from sassy quips like:
" I believe the approved and appropriate riposte is “Fuck you!" "
"Own who you are and tell him to fuck himself."
"Next time somebody calls you that, stand up, and take a bow."
I wish I had the moxie to channel my inner Designing Women.
To the more analytical:
"He totally crossed the line when he added the F word to his name-calling. Men frequently cannot deal with emotion, period. I find they get very uncomfortable when women are actually expressing their feelings."
"...think about whether the person who is attacking isn't really just defending. Think about what you can meet with compassion instead of defensiveness. If you are secure in whether you are emoting too much or too little or your right to be a human being who sometimes goes too far in one or the other direction, it gets easier not to become reactive under such an accusation."
I agree with these too. I do sometimes emote too much. There's nothing wrong with that. The challenge for me is to be secure in my humanness, own my behavior, and not feel I have to apologize for being me. Warren behaved that way because my emotions made him uncomfortable. I am not excusing his caveman-like behavior, but understanding it is the key to not allowing it to negatively effect me. Railing against the Warrens of the world solves nothing. We need to change the narrative. In a perfect world, we would teach our children - girls AND boys - the value of "letting it out" and help them find the right balance between emotional control and expression. Simple understanding. This is the first step in eliminating the culture of shame on both sides of the emotional spectrum.
|This seemed like a good place for an obvious graphic.