There's nothing more terrifying than scared people.

Elizabeth Bowen

Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinion of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face what frightens you.

Katherine Mansfield

 

Fear is a matriarchy; fear is passed down through mothers.

These are fighting words, and I wish they weren't true but I believe they are: Girls are still encouraged to maintain their desire for protection by others in lieu of forging their own sets of strengths.

Encouraged to look for protection and defense from their parents and family, girls frequently transfer this desire to a lover or husband as they grow into adulthood. Anxiety and fear are paradoxically often a product–not a failure–of a woman's being both astute and perceptive: The most fearful are often those with the most imaginative intelligences.

The toughest cookies I know are still far more fearful than their male counterparts; the most apparently invincible woman is, I would argue, beset by wild and remarkable anxieties.

Sometimes fear is our ally, true, but often it is no more than a masked enemy.

Our strength is often composed of the weaknesses we're damned if we're going to show.

Mignon McLaughlin

Why, when presented with precisely the same social and psychological situations, do men become angry while women get scared?

Being frightened is an especially embarrassing emotion because what we fear often seems petty. Someone scared might be reprimanded by a companion, and told to "Get a grip–anybody with sense can see that there's nothing to worry about," unless the fear is somehow politically correct. The big worries seem noble–fear of nuclear annihilation, of environmental destruction, of human suffering–but everyday personal fears–fear of elevators, fear of embarrassment, fear of not fitting into last year's bathing suit–creep around coveting the nobility of genuine fears but never quite making it.

Insecurity about the details of life causes excessive concern for them in the lives of many women, who then permit their fears about the details to obscure genuine threats to their well-being. There are, for example, women with immaculate houses who refuse to go to the doctor for mammograms; they are apparently more worried about their bedspreads than their breasts, but surely this isn't the case.

Displacement of fears from the actual to the imaginary leads not to reassurance but to a deluded sense of protection from danger. Even when we know that our imagined fears typically outnumber our actual we continue to displace our feelings of fear onto other, perhaps even more potentially destructive, emotions and behaviors. We can't help it. 

Anthropologists from Margaret Mead onwards insist on the overwhelming evidence that women continue to want men who are older, more powerful, more intelligent, and more ambitious than they are. One way to create the possibility for this imbalance is for an otherwise able woman to trip herself up by becoming fearful, but this pattern of fear is finally and essentially destructive to any relationship, no matter how satisfying it might otherwise appear.

(I'm saying this like you didn't already know this, but you already do...)

To Be Continued...

Recent Posts in Snow White Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Are You a Promiscuous Shopper?

Are you retail incontinent, or do you hold it all in?

Do You Like Your Sister?

Imaginary sisters are perfect, but real sisters rarely live up to the ideal.

5 Hard-To-Hear Truths About Your Kids

A new study confirms what we already know: entitled kids are no fun to be around

How Old is an Old(er) Woman?

The new Bond "girl" will be 50; Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd. was also 50.

Object Permanence In Adult Life

If I offer to "be there for somebody," I do expect it to be on my own terms.

Joni Mitchell on New York Magazine: Is The Photo Disturbing?

I've seen Joni Mitchell from both sides now. I sort of wish I hadn't.