Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A man may work from sun to sun...but a superwoman's world plainly sucks?

In my continuing effort to enrage every woman who frequents SHAMblog (and a good percentage of the males, too).... Well, I don't quite know how to finish that sentence, and I'm too rushed this morning to worry about it, but I was intrigued to read this item; it struck me as being at the intersection of several recent discussions we've had on gender roles, determinism, and "what is normal, anyway?" It's a cover piece on women and depression from Working Mother magazine. Extrapolating from its own online reader survey, WM postulates that 91 percent of working moms are depressed.*

The piece opens with the story of "Theresa," who "walked around feeling 'like a bad mom, a bad employee—and a bad wife because I was frustrated that my hu
sband wasn’t rescuing me.' " As a side note, albeit a longish one, these first-name-only case studies are a staple feature of women's magazines, and I've always vaguely distrusted them; the sentiments presented are so pat, so letter-perfect in making the author's case. (I've done interviews with people at all levels, from the man in the street to the men in the White House, and I can tell you that interview subjects seldom give you the exact words you'd like to have from them, no matter how much you coax them or try to shape their responses through savvy questioning.) Plus, there's that little exchange I had some years back with a young woman who'd recently left Indiana University, where I taught, to find her fortune in the New York publishing world. She worked at a high-profile women's mag that had a reputation for running some of the sauciest, most intellectually provocative reader mail in the business. One day when I complimented her on her magazine's letters column she chuckled, then said simply, "We make it up, you know. We sit down and have meetings, decide what we need, then we write most of it ourselves." I don't know why that shocked me, but it did. So then I asked, "And is the same true of the characters in the actual stories?" This time she paused for a beat, perhaps suddenly aware that she shouldn't be confessing such things to a former mentor and journalism professor who, at the time, was also doing offbeat stories on media for The Wall Street Journal. I found her eventual answer"All of the stories we do are true-to-life"revealing for what it didn't say. The stories were true-to-life. Not necessarily the people. I hasten to add that this magazine was, and remains, an annual finalist in major awards competitions. You really shouldn't be making up sources in award-winning journalism.

Even so, in this case I have reason to believe that Theresa
—whether or not she's what's known in the trade as a "composite character"**does speak for a lot of women when she voices the above-quoted sentiments.

So, to get back to the real point here: Clearly, if 91 percent of the members in any group are affected by a given social phenomenon, then that thing, whatever it is, has become the norm. And if this thing that afflicts 91 percent of people is the norm, you then begin to ask yourself if maybe it's not so much an affliction after all, but one of those self-pitying "conditions" that increasingly befall the every-moment-of-my-life-was-meant-to-be-filled-with-meaning-and-joy types that Alexandra Wolfe had in mind in her canny 2004 New York Observer piece about TMPR ("too much positive reinforcement"). Are we really talking about "depression"
here? Or is it just, well, life?

Which is to say, the life you chose, for all those of you who believe in conscious, voluntary choice.

On the other hand, if it is depression, could it be the inevitable result of biting off more than you can realistically chew?
Could it be that for all their ideological goals and philosophical convictions, these working moms are playing against type, ergo something inside them is rebelling at the SuperShe role they've embraced for themselves? Could it be that they know that the ones they've left behindspecifically their childrenare suffering because of their I-WANT-IT-ALL-NOW aspirations?

Again...I'm just askin'.

* To be clear: The actual magazine article by Katerine Eban quotes NAMI and NIH data in stipulating that roughly one-fifth of working women are depressed. Not all working women are mothers, of course. And online surveys cannot be considered scientifically reliable. Hence the skew between the one-fifth figure and WM's "91 percent."
** In writing and, especially, TV movies, composite characters are intended to represent a class of people who embody a certain trait or group of traits that figure in the narrative arc. They're usually peripheral to the main story line but play an important symbolic/allegorical role. For example, in a movie about a male boss who abuses the women who work for him, "Shirley" could be a composite character representing several administrative assistants
an amalgam of characteristics present in the various actual women. This gives writers and directors more flexibility in terms of portraying people, allows them to get more information into the story without the confusion and unwieldiness of having to establish multiple characters and back-stories, and also eases privacy concerns in cases where you have several people in embarrassing circumstances who'd prefer not to be named. Composite characters are supposed to be identified as such; in my experience that rule is not always followed.

40 comments:

Yekaterina said...

Are we really talking about "depression" here? Or is it just, well, life?

My guess is that it's life, plain and simple, for probably most of that 90%. People don't seem to understand that being unhappy (not getting what you want, not liking where your life is headed, hating your job...etc) and being depressed are two very different things.

And Wow! That is one handsome man in that picture with Gore!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Your post is another reason why I read GQ and not Cosmo. I have often questioned the "depression" statics for women. I am probably depressed and just don't know it by most standards. A lot of this is subjective to an outside observer from what I can tell. Are you depressed until someone tells you so?

In one of my introductory English classes, I had a student who said point blank "God, you have a boring life." Here I was thinking I had a nice life with a decent job, a nice husband, and a few kids. Not good enough for my student! She seemed to think her life was going to be filled with movie star romance and dynamic jobs that would take her around the world. I did not want to burst her bubble at the fragile age of 18. Life, I am sure, will do that for me.

A lot of these women's magazines promote a lifestyle that few will ever obtain. Writers (like you Steve) will live like Carrie Bradshaw from "Sex and the City" and Mr. Big will finally wake-up and marry them. You need a good job to buy the stuff being advertised in Cosmo and Elle.

Yeah, you get depressed if you have to wake-up from that dream.

Steve Salerno said...

I am probably depressed and just don't know it...

What a classic line. And what a pertinent one, too, for today's world. I'm reminded of my Dad's line from my piece for The Wall Street Journal last year at around this time (http://tiny.cc/NnJ9S): "A man doesn't have time to think about that...."

Ykat: The guy in the background on the far left? (Thank you.)

Debbie said...

That quiz is ridiculous. Only "shiny, happy people, laughing" are exempt from depression.

The health region here does a pretty similar depression test for new mums after the 6-week post-partum mark. It seemed much more objective, less doomsday, from what I remember, having taken it twice.

No wonder their statistic of over 90%.

Steve Salerno said...

That's a very good point, Deb. I remember when I was at the American Legion, we used to do surveys in support of our proposed constitutional amendment to protect the flag. (What a strange chapter in my life. But that's a story for another day.) Given the way we asked and sequenced the questions, by the end of it the only people who opposed protecting the flag would be the same people who admitted to pulling the wings off baby birds....

Anonymous said...

Oh, speaking of women's rags, the Big O admits to being 200 pounds. I think she is over 200 pounds, but that's just me. When is the Big O going to embrace her largeness? She could easily lose 200 pounds by dropping Dr. Phil.

Before anyone tells me I'm being mean, remember the Big O has easily lost and gained over a ton in the last twenty years on the tube. If "healthy living" isn't working for her, what can us mere mortals do?

sassy sasha said...

i agree with yekatrina steve, you've got a definite sexy man thing going. once again tho i have to take issue with your attacks on women which i don't understand. if the women themselves think they're unhappy isn't that all that matters? why pick it apart as you do? it doesn't matter what the definition of depression is in some book, if they feel depressed, then their depressed and that's all there is to it!

Steve Salerno said...

When is the Big O going to embrace her largeness?

It's funny you should say (or ask) that, since she announced today that the first step in moving forward and losing weight is "accepting who you are," which would appear to be a form of "embracing" her large self. I find that intriguing, since Tolle and Byrne and the rest of Oprah's New Agey friends always tell us that we're not even supposed to see the grim reality, let alone acknowledge it; rather, we're supposed to conjure an upbeat reality of our very own that will obediently self-fulfill.

Which raises the question: Why is Oprah fat in the first place? Didn't she ask the Universe (or at least Joe Vitale) for a nice slim figure?

Anonymous said...

"It's funny you should say (or ask) that, since she announced today that the first step in moving forward and losing weight is accepting who you are,' which would appear to be a form of 'embracing' her large self."

Exactly! Let's look at this logically (crazy I know), if she has been doing this dieting/healthy living/starving/whatever for over twenty years on the tube and God knows how many in her life, maybe something doesn't work? Maybe the Big O is a big girl? She is stating it is her thyroid right now. It cannot be good for someone to be up and down in their weight for that long of a time. That is hell on the body. I wonder what her "natural" size is suppose to be?

I think the Big O weight issue is a perfect example of how "thinking" yourself into "reality" does not work and an added bonus of circular reasoning New Age style!

roger o'keefe said...

Forgive me if I fail to swoon over Mr. Salerno, but there's a serious point to be made here. I agree that by abandoning the roles they were intended to play, women not only did damage to the social fabric but ironically hurt themselves as well. If the survey can be believed "having it all" has not made women happy. It has only made their lives more stressful. So what was it all about?

Steve Salerno said...

Gee, Roger...and I thought...we had something....

Anonymous said...

"If the survey can be believed having it all' has not made women happy. It has only made their lives more stressful. So what was it all about?"

It's about you not reading the women's comments, Roger! That would make you very "manlike" by what the survey implies. The "survey" is suspect, as are most surveys in women's rags.

I would venture to guess, most women are not as depressed as being reported. I, as woman, get depressed when I am told I am depressed or should be depressed. Do I get frayed by life? Sure. Can I afford not to work? No and few American families can.

By the way, I should state, a lot of American men do not want to support a wife and children! Today's man thinks women should pay their equal share so how is that going to fit into the cozy idea of domestic bliss?

Anonymous said...

You raise good questions, Steve. You're less helpful at providing answers. Thankfully the questions have a value all their own.

Anonymous said...

"by abandoning the roles they were intended to play, women not only did damage to the social fabric but ironically hurt themselves as well'

Yes, Roger and Steve, if only women stayed at home, where they belong, the world would be a much better place. Like Afghanistan.

RevRon's Rants said...

I don't think we have a "lady or the tiger" situation here, no matter how diligently anyone might try to portray it as such. Anyone who tries to "have it all" is going to end up disappointed, because "all" keeps moving farther away.

I spent years busting my chops in the medical research and corporate worlds, working my way up to walnut row before realizing that I had left my family life on a shelf somewhere, and the money just couldn't buy enough to make me "happy."

Tried to play the starving artist for awhile, spending lots of time raising my kids, but soon realized that there were essentials that I needed that nasty money to buy. Figured there had to be some kind of middle ground, and it turned out I was right. It took a series of unfortunate events to get through to me (divorce, business I was managing getting embezzled into bankruptcy, and finally, a dear friend & working associate being murdered - I was supposed to be there when it happened, but got sick).

I learned that it is possible to have all one truly needs *and* have room in one's life for family to be afforded the attention it deserves and needs. The *depression* I experienced before was merely frustration at the inaccessibility of a fairy tale, and I suspect that is the case for many participants in these "surveys," the objectivity of which is suspect at best.

I'd venture that most of the people who claimed to be depressed wouldn't recognize clinical depression if it sat on their face. True clinical depression transcends unhappiness, leaving the sufferer in a fog that doesn't even clear enough to recognize symptoms, much less seek treatment, which is usually begun after a patient seeks treatment for physical symptoms, and has a physician perceptive enough to recognize those symptoms' true source.

Steve Salerno said...

I disagree with you vehemently, Ron. I would recognize clinical depression if it sat on my face.

RevRon's Rants said...

You clinically depressed, Steve? I'd have guessed you were merely suffering from intermittent bouts of acute fiber deficiency (AFD in the acronym world)? :-)

Steve Salerno said...

No. I just tend to be cognizant of the things that sit on my face.

Elizabeth said...

Extrapolating from its own online reader survey, WM postulates that 91 percent of working moms are depressed.

Stephen Salerno, not so fast (please). Because unless there is some info in that article that I have missed, WM postulates no such thing, as I see it.

WM reports that 91% of working mothers who responded to their survey admitted to suffering from some symptoms of depression.

First, I'd say some symptoms do not yet qualify as a full-blown depression, and, second, when I look at the survey, I am surprised that the figure is not 99%, for just about any working parent, male or female, would suffer from some of those symptoms within a span of one week (e.g. feeling a little blue, feeling a little fatigued, having some difficulty concentrating on reading and other mental tasks).

Let's do an informal SHAMblog survey right here and now and see how many bloggers, men and women, with kids, have experienced these (or other, related) symptoms within a week. Unless you belong to the "shiny, happy people, laughing" group that Debbie has brought up earlier, you will likely admit to having "some" symptoms (of depression and other life's side-effects). And if you do belong to the SHPL group, you've probably realized by now that visiting SHAMblog was either a major mistake, or a minor accident, to be purged from your shiny, happy mind ASAP. Leave now.

To wrap up my long-winded argument, it is unwarranted to jump from the findings of this survey to a conclusion that "91% of working mothers are depressed."

Unless, of course, one looks for an opportunity to engage in one's favorite past-time and stir the predictably steaming pot (aka continue one's valiant and commendable efforts to irk assorted womenfolk and other innocent creatures). Well, to be sure, one could do that and be forgiven, as it is an irresistible aspect of keeping one's own blog.

Having said all this, maternal depression is a serious and underestimated world-wide problem, even if the WM's 91% figure is excessive (as it clearly appears to be). It's not called "parental" depression (yet?) only because it's women who continue to be primary child-care givers. But full-time fathers (or single fathers) are not exempt from the malady. Parenting is not for sissies. And working and parenting can be positively crazy-making, as any parent worth his/her salt knows.

Last but not least, about that other thing: yes, nice looking fella in that pic, I agree. The one on the left, I mean.

But what does the cordial handshake between Mr. Salerno and Mr. Gore have to do with depressed mothers...? What, exhausted moms not photogenic enough? ;)

Call me cheeky, but you can be quite a tease sometimes, Stephen Salerno. Because, really, you start your post with a disclaimer promising to enrage your female readers, proceed to deliver, and then, in the middle of your argument, place a pic of...yourself, looking dapper and dashing -- and chummy with the VP and future Nobel Laureate. Now, who does that, huh? :)

Only Roger, bless his sober head, managed not to fall for this ruse, though even he admitted to some discomfort in dismissing the obvious.

Tsk tsk, is all I'm gonna say. ;)

P.S. LMAO.

Steve Salerno said...

Eliz:

Sigh. (You seem to elicit a lot of those from me lately.)

I was merely reporting on the way the article and survey have been spun--by reps from Working Mother itself, notably on one of the morning shows the other day. I apologize for not recalling which. Had I known at the time that I was going to write this item, I would've paid closer attention. But you know by now how it is with these "causes," Eliz, especially where/when they concern women's rights or women's pain and suffering in any form. The vanguard of the movement did the same thing with the stats on date rape (twisting them to make it seem like every single date ends in rape), domestic abuse ("every single marriage is abusive"), etc.

As for the photo--and I need to clear this up b/c I've received a few tongue-in-cheek comments off-blog as well--I did not post it in the interest of showing myself "looking dapper," as it were. I posted it as a small scrap of evidence in support of the point that I've done very high-level interviewing in my professional life, so I know how these things go (or are supposed to go, at any rate). I was trying to draw a distinction between myself--as someone who takes pride in doing things the right way--and some of the lesser, more reckless practitioners of the genre, who have no qualms about creating the sources they need in order to sell the point they're selling.

I'm reminded of the receptionist's line at the end of the absorbing biopic, Shattered Glass, about the boy-wonder New Republic writer who, it turned out, fabricated some of his stories out of whole cloth. As the top editor is coming into the office one morning after the whole scandal blew up, she says to him, "You know what would've prevented all this, don't you? Pictures. How can you make things up if you have to have pictures of it?"

Of course, even that observation seems quaint and archaic, now, in the era of Photoshop and such.

Elizabeth said...

Sigh. (You seem to elicit a lot of those from me lately.)

Doin' my best, what can I say.

As for the photo--and I need to clear this up b/c I've received a few tongue-in-cheek comments off-blog as well--I did not post it in the interest of showing myself "looking dapper," as it were.

Oh, sure, sure...

P.S. Don't shoot.:)
I'm kidding, fercryinoutloud.

Dimension Skipper said...

Today's Dilbert notes the effect of deliberate poll skewing, i.e. designing a poll to get a desired result.

What makes it funnier (for me) is that I actually am in the stated target group for their poll. And my response would have been, "Dang! I really wish that these idiotic polls would have been included as being banned by the federal Do-Not-Call list... [Sound of phone SLAMMING down!]"

But maybe that would be included under "Fiddlesticks."

Steve Salerno said...

DS: Yeah, to amplify slightly about my experiences at the Legion: Our focus-group testing demonstrated that the mere order of questions would have a dramatic effect on the end result. If we asked people right off the bat, "Do you favor a constitutional amendment to protect the flag?", a large percentage said no. But if we preceded that question with two or three other questions designed to pique their outrage at the "degradation" of modern society, we'd get a much more useful response. And if we dispensed with the mention of the constitutional amendment--and simply asked instead if they favored "respecting and protecting the American flag"--almost everyone said yes.

Elizabeth said...

The *depression* I experienced before was merely frustration at the inaccessibility of a fairy tale, and I suspect that is the case for many participants in these "surveys," the objectivity of which is suspect at best.

You have a point, Ron, and it echoes the sentiments of other posters here. And I agree with it, btw.

But there are other elements, unique to parental depression (for the parents who are primary care-givers) -- and one of the main ones is the physical and mental exhaustion. The sheer lack of sleep is an important contributor here, and, as simple and obvious as it is, it is frequently overlooked in assessing the challenges that parents deal with. Until you are a full-time parent, you have no clue what amount of effort and energy, mental and physical, it takes to care for children. Sometimes I think that lack of clue is the reason why we still propagate, because if we knew beforehand what it really takes, we would think long (long) and hard before procreating.

I'd venture that most of the people who claimed to be depressed wouldn't recognize clinical depression if it sat on their face. True clinical depression transcends unhappiness, leaving the sufferer in a fog that doesn't even clear enough to recognize symptoms, much less seek treatment, which is usually begun after a patient seeks treatment for physical symptoms, and has a physician perceptive enough to recognize those symptoms' true source.

True. Add to it the stigma, especially for new mothers, who are expected to be all chirpy and glowing while tending to their bundle of joy, and the pervasive, almost mandatory denial, and recognizing *one's own* depression, or that of someone very close to us, becomes really tricky sometimes.

Remember Andrea Yates, the Texas mom who drowned her five kids? Her husband and other family members were completely (and almost criminally, I'd say) clueless about her state of mind (which was depression with psychotic features, if not a full-blown psychosis). The husband especially was astounding in his denial, I thought, saying, in interviews, how she always seemed normal and happy and glad to be taking care of their five children under the age of 7 (if I recall) *and* her father suffering from Alzheimer's... Now this kind of stress would drive even a healthy and resilient person into trouble -- and Andrea was neither to begin with.

An aside: Ron, you seem to have the most varied and colorful resume of all the people I know. Is there a job/work you have *not* performed in your life? :)

Elizabeth said...

Steve, that's why various research, whose results are usually quoted in the media as definitive pronouncements on a subject, should almost never be taken as such. The trouble is, we (regular folk) usually have no access to that research, and when and if we do, we usually do not know how to evaluate its findings.

Steve Salerno said...

Oh, there's a lot to that, Eliz. Definitely. One must be very careful in analyzing data--and one must be extremely skeptical of media analysis that purports to "interpret" new research for us.

However, people who make the case that you've made here often use that as the basis for proposing alternate research and/or entire alternate realities...and that is an equally (if not more) dangerous trap. (That is, in fact, the very argument used by the proponents of alternative medicine.) Just because the body of research that now exists may have flaws or gaps, that doesn't mean that an entirely different way of looking at the situation--which is usually predicated on less evidence, if any at all--is valid or even worth considering.

Elizabeth said...

Yeah, but evidence is evidence (to notice the trite and obvious), Steve. That's the bottom line, whether in CAM or other areas of life and research. Now how we evaluate this evidence and what we do with it, is another matter.

Elizabeth said...

Just because the body of research that now exists may have flaws or gaps, that doesn't mean that an entirely different way of looking at the situation--which is usually predicated on less evidence, if any at all--is valid or even worth considering.

Hm, well, yes... I think.

See, most people do not know that there is a humongous body of research-based evidence supporting the reality of paranormal phenomena. Solid, honest-to-goodness research that has been acknowledged as such by skeptics in the field. And yet people who have it in their minds that PSI is just plain impossible not only do not acknowledge the existence of the research, but dismiss it immediately in a knee-jerk fashion.

There is prejudice on all sides of the scientific and pseudo-scientific discourse and one would do best not rejecting off-hand anything that just does not fit into one's favorite POV, just because it, well, does not fit into one's POV.

Elizabeth said...

But you know by now how it is with these "causes," Eliz, especially where/when they concern women's rights or women's pain and suffering in any form.

Yes, Steve, indeed I do. They are typically distorted and mocked, while the real and serious problems persist, underreported and/or minimized because of the climate of distrust and ridicule created by certain pundits and opinion-makers. It is stunning that in the US, in 2008, the issue of equal rights for women (or human rights for women) is still a subject of ridicule and dispute. Mind-boggling.

Steve Salerno said...

I don't know what to do with you sometimes, Eliz. You were the one who made the case about people overstating the facts in order to pursue an agenda. Then I basically agreed with you and said that they've done that with women's causes for years. (And the reason I cite women's causes is that "women and depression" was the subject of this post.) Then you turn right around and appear to be castigating* me for mocking the very causes that--I thought you agreed--were overstated. I don't get it.

We could probably have a serious disagreement over this, but it's late, and I've been up for about 36 solid hours, and I don't have the will at this point. I think I'm determined (in all senses) to find sleep.

* castrating?

Anonymous said...

I have to take issue with your last comment. You write purposely provocative posts about gender roles trying to 'enrage' women, but when women don't agree with you, you call them castrating? What does it do for you?

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 4:11: First of all, the "castrating" remark was playful. Second, if you read Eliz's comment and then mine--and really read it, don't just look for something to get angry about--you'll see my argument a little better.

Elizabeth said...

I don't know what to do with you sometimes, Eliz.

Join the club, Steve.

Honestly, I think we have a misunderstanding squared in this exchange -- I guess I missed your point, Steve, but I think you also missed mine. And it was not personal, that last comment.

I could start 'splaining here, but it would be tedious and counterproductive, I'm afraid. So let's just move on, shall we? I'm sure we'll have other opportunities for ca... I mean, arguing this (and other) topics (the ever patient host permitting, of course:).

castrating?

We aim to please! :)

Steve Salerno said...

Ouch.

RevRon's Rants said...

"Until you are a full-time parent, you have no clue what amount of effort and energy, mental and physical, it takes to care for children."

Been there, done that. After my divorce, I had full custody of my kids, while still trying to make a career work. Yes, there was a definite exhaustion factor, and the physical exhaustion did manifest as a degree of depression. I was fortunate that I require less sleep than most people (4-1/2 hrs then, 5-1/2 or so now). As you know, however, a classic case of clinical depression is infinitely more profound in its effects, even as it is more difficult to identify. Depression rooted in physical exhaustion is, of course, not the same as postpartum (hormonally-induced) depression.

"Ron, you seem to have the most varied and colorful resume of all the people I know. Is there a job/work you have *not* performed in your life?"

I think I probably fit the stereotype of a seeker/slacker - having jumped from one thing to another out of either boredom or a short attention span. Never been a pilot (I was dangerous enough to myself dealing with only the X & Y axes!), a dancer (as Zappa penned, "One of my legs are bigger than the other, and both of my feet's too long"), a surgeon (beyond emergency field procedures), or an elected official (I inhaled too many times). To paraphrase Robert Earl Keene, the list goes on forever, and the party never ends... :-)

Elizabeth said...

Never been a pilot...

Phew. I'm glad there are some occupations that you have not pursued (yet; there is still time, Ron. :)).

RevRon's Rants said...

Getting a pilot's license isn't in the cards for me, Elizabeth. I've flown right seat in a friend's single-engine plane, and thoroughly enjoyed it, whilst simultaneously terrifying our wives, who were clutching their armrests in back in terror, screaming for him to take back control. He didn't seem too worried, but they would have nothing to do with my little aerobatic display.

Between that and the absolute rush I felt when a fighter pilot friend took me up in an F4 Phantom, I realized that I had no business playing in the air. I'd come close enough to ending my career on earth by pushing the limits on a motorcycle... I can only imagine the end result of my being allowed to playing unsupervised at 10,000 feet! I'm better off taking my chances with all these "castrating" women, down here on the hard deck. :-)

Elizabeth said...

I'm better off taking my chances with all these "castrating" women, down here on the hard deck. :-)

You incorrigible risk-taker, you. :)

Steve Salerno said...

Ahh, the perils of being...whipped. ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow, castrating, whipped... the B-word can't be far behind. "Playful" as it may be, it shows your attitude, Steve, which may be one of the reasons those jobs in academia are not coming your way. Why not admit you're threatened by women, especially when they challenge you? You'd not be the first or last man to feel this way. And it would make an interesting self-exploratory piece of writing (for "Playboy"?).