A Woman’s Secret

13Apr09

Every Sunday it has become a ritual to check Postsecret for new secrets that have been sent in. For those of you who do not know the concept of Postsecret – people can send in a postcard they have created or altered themselves and share a secret they have not shared with anyone so far. All this happens anonymously, so the secrets shared still stay secrets but the bearer has had the chance to say it, share it, let it out, without having to fear losing someone, hurting someone, etc. depending on the secret the have shared. It happens that comments are added to the secrets, from strangers, who have been reading the site, or the secret-sharers and sometimes they tell us that sharing the secret on the page gave them enough courage to share their secrets with their loved ones, friends, family.

Some of the secrets are turned into books, which can be ordered online (please check the Postsecret page for more details).

This Sunday I came across a secret that fits nicely into the recent events and my latest blog posts about teenagers running amok due to social harassment and  negligence of teachers and parents alike. In a conversation about this topic someone mentioned to me that running amok was a male thing – women genetically lack this trigger in the brain that makes them grab a gun and shoot at people. I do not believe in this theory and still think a lot of differences are taught, not inherent.

The secret I want to share comes from a women and sums up nicely why she did not run amok, even though she felt like doing so at times. It also sums up nicely what prevented her from killing people – the lack of firearms at hand.

Here is the translation of the postcard for all those who do not understand German:

I can understand kids who go postal.
… when the pressure becomes too much … I understand.
I just didn’t run amok as a teenager because I didn’t have a gun.
In my fantasy I was a sick female killer.


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8 Responses to “A Woman’s Secret”

  1. That’s a terrific website — I think it’ll become a weekly ritual for me, too!

  2. I see now I misunderstood something in your comment to an article in my blog recently (it sounded as if you agreed to the theory that women “can not run amok”, or at least wondered if it could be that way). I too completely disagree with the idea that women, theoretically, can’t turn to physical violence – I observe that they do this less often, or less spectacularly, than men do, however, I feel/agree that it’s a matter of socialization, and that women turn to other kinds of violence and aggression instead under circumstances which would make men run amok (infanticide is something coming to mind).

    Btw. I am certain that a lot of people – much more than one would figure, or would be admitted publicly/by society – have similar fantasies at certain points of their lives. I’m not sure whether it’s just the non-availability of guns which keeps them from making the fantasy real, though – for they could easily turn to other means available in any kitchen. I think, or at least want to believe, that a very large amount of inner strength keeps them from doing this, despite whatever desperate situation they’re in. Maybe this woman just was much stronger than Joe or Jane Average who never saw any trouble (real trouble, at least).

  3. @crispybacon: It has become a weekly ritual for me. First thing in the morning I check the site for new secrets. Some are simply beautiful, others frighteningly dark. I do have a handful of favorites that fall into many categories. What I like is that people can share something with strangers and sometimes the unexpected happens – they receive help from strangers they have never met. I find that beautiful.

    @Sathom: I believe that a lot of the gender-specific behavior is not inherent but taught. Even if parents try not to teach certain stereotypes it’s rather hard to avoid all of them. Our society is not at a point where women and men are equal and treated that way. Children are not stupid and will notice the different treatments.

    I do agree that a huge amount of inner strength is required not to do something stupid. I guess, that might be the only difference – thinking of the consequences. Or, maybe not. Maybe the consequences were thought through. It’s hard to tell why women snap less than men.

  4. 4 tryphina

    as a firm believer in deconstructivism i say everything is due to socialisation. in my opinion, there is no gender-specific behaviour whatsoever.

  5. @berzerkraccoon: You’re right, kids will pick up things even if not explicitly taught to them. It’s, on one hand, just a matter of what educational scientists call mimetic learning – how they perceive men and women acting around them, and being treated, and starting to act the same way. On the other hands, they’re confronted with stereotypes everywhere, actually outright bombed with them, for instance, in commercials (a specifically ugly one from German TV: girls play with Barbie and her female friends, who want to throw a party. *Of course* at first *all* the preparation work, like doing the dishes, the room etc. etc. have to be done by them so the *guys* can enjoy it. Once everything’s done, a girl’s voice says: “Now the boys can come”. To party hardy, one might suspect, while the afterward cleaning up will be done by guess who. The scene closes with a girl choir singing “Schön, daß wir Mädchen sind (How beautiful that we are girls).” Hah.

    It’s hard to avoid stereotypes even if you try. I recently wondered what birthday gift to buy for a close friend’s very cute and perky daughter, age 9, and decided to go for some Kim Possible secret agent gadgets. They really hit the spot and I made lotsa brownie points with her, yet am quite aware that I just went for the least, yet still, stereotypical stuff (anything else I can think of gives me goosebumps).

    Klaus Theweleit once demonstrated how difficult it is to avoid this even in language (try to find terms for positive things which don’t include expressions for things erected or going upwards, and negative expressions which don not refer to things going down- or inwards; it can be done, but you’ll have a hard time).

    @tryphina: Hm, how do you mean saying that there is no gender-specific behaviour? I think that while of course gender stereotypes can and have to be deconstructed, if people cling to these and act accordingly, they display gender-specific behavior (the point’s just that “gender” is a construction, and gender-specific behaviour an acted-out reference to oneself as fitting the constructed category. Sadly, most people still construct their identity this way). Or is that just what you meant by saying it doesn’t exist(like saying, for instance, that there was no “real” gender-specific behavior in a sense of nature-given, sexually specific behaviour)?

  6. 6 tryphina

    my bad, i did not specify correctly. what i meant is: in my opinion there is no sexually specific behaviour (as in sex vs. gender). like: “girls are more sensitive”, “boys are more competitive” or to cite some of the worst “boys are better in science”, “girls are better in languages”. i think nothing of this is “genetic” (i quite dislike this concept as a whole), but socialisation and education. if girls are more sensitive or emotional, in a given kultur, then it is due to the fact that they are told they should be.

  7. 7 Sathom

    @tryphina: ah okay, then I actually guessed in my last sentence how you meant it – just wasn’t sure. Thanks for clearing this up.

    I actually agree almost completely; the only point I’d add would be that I believe that of course certain behaviour treats are to a certain degree also genetically influenced. However, those who claim that the *entire* behaviour and personality are *only* “genetic” ignore the fact that genes do not code specific treats (like size, skin colour, or personality treats for that matter), but ranges, inbetween which those treats can vary depending on environmental influences. Also, people claiming that the female brain differs from the male in terms of structure and functions ignore the plasticity of the brain – the proven fact that the neuronal system actually not only is still growing during childhood, but while so, the actual structure of the neuronal net itself actually is influenced by socialization (eg. just what you say – girls are, in a given culture, more emotional because they are taught to be – this, however, actually means that there are influences on the structure of their neuronal net while they grow up, making some neurons more active and more integrated in neuronal processes, and others less etc., so later you can ‘prove’ their brain works different than a man’s).

    I wonder – I once saw something on TV about a kindergarten in the Netherlands or in Scandinavia (can’t recall which right now), where they try to break this up and teach boys to be also sensitive, and other ‘female’ treats, and vice versa. Far as the TV documentation went, this seems to work. I wonder if I can dig up something about this on the web. I’ll also look up something else I read a while ago when this topic was discussed again in Germany – it was about how the idea that women are more communicative is just caused by superficial and not-too-exact research (You know – this entire ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Dogs are from Pluto’ nonsense).

  8. 8 badoli

    About “it’s a male thing”….

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenda_Ann_Spencer

    Tell me why i don’t like mondays… 😉


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