Why Do Men Think It’s Cute When Women Get Mad?

My anger is not your entertainment.

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Photo by Joshua Newton

About a month ago, I went on a date with a man who tickled and touched me when I didn’t want him to. Rather than stopping, he demanded an explanation why he should. “I don’t like that” and “stop” were not sufficient reasons for him. This made me angry. My anger made him laugh. I have not reckoned with this for myself yet. I am trying.

It is not the first time my anger, discomfort, or frustration has made a man laugh or further provoke me. I am not the only woman this has happened to. We’ve all been there, poked into anger, a completely normal reaction, only to be laughed at and made fun of. “Look, she’s angry! How adorable and silly. Dance, little girl, dance!”

I don’t know why this happens, but my thinking is that if I can establish some reasoning, I might be able to calm my rage and release the incident’s grasp on me. At first I felt like an idiot, discussing this topic with myself in 2018, in the era of #MeToo. We’re past this simple stuff and onto much bigger issues, right? Maybe 2018’s greatest irony is that it’s been showing us simultaneously how far we’ve come, and how far we haven’t. So I’m going to try to figure out why a woman’s anger amuses a man so that I don’t drive my fist into a wall.

Maybe it’s guilt. Maybe a man feels guilty for making a woman angry, and tries to laugh and minimize both the incident and a woman’s reaction to it in an attempt to make it go away. This of course has the opposite effect, but they’ve always been a little slow on the uptake.

Along the same lines, maybe it’s ignorance. Maybe a man genuinely doesn’t comprehend why a woman is angry in any given moment, and it’s easy to mistake the situation as a funny.

I don’t really think it’s guilt or ignorance, I’m just trying to be a little bit fair.

Maybe it’s because women exist for men. That old chestnut, right? Every part of us is meant to serve their needs. My body for pleasure, my emotions for taking care of his children. My mind to challenge and delight him, lest he get bored. Even my anger is not my own, it is nothing more than entertainment, worth a good chuckle, at least. What else could a woman’s anger be for? It doesn’t seem to serve much purpose.

Maybe it’s because I’m a possession, not a presence. Women belong to men, they’ll feel the way they’re given permission to. Are you sad? There, there, I’ll hold you because I like fixing things. Are you happy? I must have made you happy, I feel accomplished. Are you angry with me? How can that be? Stop being that. It isn’t what I want, so you must be joking.

Maybe it’s because we’re pretty. It’s really hard to take window dressing seriously. If we’re nothing more than eye candy to a man, of course it’s hilarious when we get mad. I’d laugh my ass off if my wallpaper got pissy.

Maybe it’s because we’re wrong. It’s my word against his, my reaction against his, and who has historically been the one in the right? Our responses to human behavior are wholly ineffective, and so adorable when compared to a man’s, because they carry the assumption that they’re wrong. If I laugh at a man that doesn’t want to be laughed at, I make him feel small. If a man laughs at a woman who doesn’t want to be laughed at, she’s being overly emotional and irrational. If a man gets angry, everyone around should be scared. “Don’t make me tell your father.” If a woman gets angry, she’s assumed to be having the wrong reaction. “Oh come on, it was just a joke.”

I can’t define the reason for everyone, but I can define it for me. I think the real reason men think it’s cute when women get mad is that it helps them. It helps them make us smaller. It helps them make our motivations invalid. They haven’t done anything wrong, it’s just the foolish woman being foolishly angry, there isn’t a thing wrong with men, you see. It’s not you, it’s her. Laughter is the best medicine for being a degrading piece of shit.

My gender does not invalidate my feelings. It does not invalidate my reactions to others. My gender does not put my emotions on a different plane than a man’s. But some men don’t know that, and so this will probably happen again. When it does, I probably won’t be ready, I won’t be prepared, and I won’t be collected enough to respond how I might like to. I won’t be any of the things I’d like to be, but I do know that I won’t be cute, and for now that’s all I need to know or be for sure.

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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