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Feb 262013
Reading Time: 6 minutes

 Gender, Marriage and Sarai Sierra’ death

Part 2

This is the second in a series of three posts about how Sarai Sierra’s tragedy connects to issues of gender and human rights within marriage. Read the first post here.

In the previous post:


“So you are saying that we just got to let our wife, the mother of our children to go to a country that’s dangerous and disappear, just because she wants to, and we just ‘let’ her?”

“I am saying that a woman is an independent adult and no one ‘lets’ her or ‘allows’ her. I am not saying that as a couple you cannot talk it over. To say that you ‘don’t allow’ her is to transgress her rights. However, if you talk it over and tell her that you don’t feel it’s safe and you both…”

“So it’s a matter of semantics!” the young man snapped.


Argumentation: Men’s sparring

Oh, I know this path so well. I repeated it for decades in endless arguments in tables where men ruled. I know the old, patriarchal techniques for “debate” and “argumentation.”

The problem is that they work only if you want to win. Debate and arguments are not about learning, listening or understanding each other. They are not in the love zone. I stopped doing this “fight” a long time ago.

I stopped because I learned that this is the path to war, not peace. It is the way of oppression. It is taught by patriarchy as a means for victory because patriarchy believes that control is power. Argumentation as a technique is an attempt to control.

This is different from the way we use “arguing” in our daily life, where we say what we feel and may clash and confront each other, but there is just a release of emotions and saying what we think. This form of arguing is often dysfunctional, but I’m not talking about this popular way of using the word.

I’m talking about the techniques used to manipulate a discussion in order to win. Techniques like amplification, rhetoric and semantics are often used in this “game.”

This man was using one of such technique, and in using it he was accusing me of using it (This is a common argumentation trick. Just take a look at how politicians argue).

He had started the conflict when he responded to a word: “allow.” But when I explored alternative ways of communicating, this word, which he had addressed, suddenly the meaning and implications of the word became “only semantic” —in reality it was he who was using semantics as a tactic to win.

I got off the game. It bores and insults me.

Argumentation and Women’s Limbic System

For me as a woman, it is hard to hear anyone who is screaming angrily at me. I am an expert with more than 30 years in addressing emotions and how to communicate them. Anger does not scare me. I can hear someone who is angry. I can hear someone who is screaming.

But when they turn their anger into bullets thrown at me, then they are projecting or throwing their anger at me. In this case, my limbic system shoots up. My flight or fight response goes up. The problem is that I don’t want to fight. That is neither my goal nor my organic way of dealing with a situation. Here’s why:

  • Women’s limbic system is highly stressed when men go into their “fighting” mode and begin to interrogate and attack verbally with an aggressive tone. It runs counter to our nervous system and organic way of arguing.
  • Women have a collaborative approach to survival. Men have a competitive one. Neither is good nor bad. But patriarchy has valued only ONE way, the competitive way, and this is the source of so much war and violence.
  • Our female limbic systems responds well to collaboration, but competition, extremely pushy aggressive sparring and mental forging ahead is counterproductive to our nervous system and highly stressful. I would not be surprised if this is at the forefront of many modern female diseases.
  • Not to mention that for centuries, women were trained to shut up and had no legal or financial way of escaping men’s abuses. So not only our limbic system wants to go into flight. Our collective memory also wants to go into flight before we get burned, hanged, stoned, institutionalized, executed or drowned.
  • In recent times, however, “modern” women have learned to do as men, and we may have even gotten good at it. In the 60s and 70s feminists got good at the game in order to respond to the men who “ruled” the table. But I’ve learned more since then, and so have many of my sisters.
  • This argumentation “game” stresses women so badly that we can have a breakdown. We don’t go home to brag about our win or take some beers with our opponent and call it a game. We go home and can’t sleep for days. We are agitated and anguished. We go over the situation again and again, trying to find out —not how to win— but how we could have prevented such conflict, how we could have created closeness, how we could have been more understanding and how we could have returned our men to the love zone. We feel guilty and a failure. We feel that we did not do our job well.
  • And because we know that we will feel this, we rather shut up and let them go onto their stupid game, even though it makes us feel like hell.

Love is a woman’s game. Relationship is a woman’s field of expertise. And the argumentation game is the enemy of love and intimacy.

Our love, compassion and empathy can be so eroded by these prickly attacks that if this mode of conversation is prolonged, our love dies, we get sick and depressed. Our collective response is silence and withdrawal. It has been like this for centuries.

Men are so used to talking among themselves and using these techniques to win that they do not realize that there’s something out of place when the women in a group are all silent. (Except a feisty one, like me, and that only for a while.)

Many men are used to this from centuries of being the only ones talking at the table. They do not hear women’s SILENCE. They don’t understand it. For them, argumentation, getting aggressive, bullying each other, even “fighting” using words and voice volume is a sport. It is the modern version of sparring. The sparring ends, and they share some beers and laugh. Not so for women.

When a woman’s flight or fight response is up, she is highly stressed. Now she will withdraw; not because she is unable to argument, but because this way of “non-communication” is contrary to her emotional and relational needs. She will become silent; not because she can’t talk, but because talking is not bringing her closer to the other and that is why a woman talks. If the conversation creates more distance and stress, she will simply stop talking.

But many men take this as a sign that they are winning and will now escalate to go for “the kill.” The result is that they do not listen to the silence in the woman and her need to reconnect. Instead, they badger and bully more, to bring their “argument” to a victorious closure. It works with their buddies.

With women, you will get two extreme responses, both bad. VERY bad. Disastrously bad.


A Woman’s Flight

The woman will choose flight. She will not only stop talking. She will emotionally withdraw, which is what happened in the group of friends. The women stopped talking. We exchanged silent glances that were pregnant with meaning. But the men did not “hear” this communication either, because most men have very little training in empathy, awareness of micro-movements and mood changes. In addition in most men who have not done their healing work, their emotional intelligence has not been cultivated. I’d say that in many, it has been eroded.

Going back to our dinner: I did not answer the allegation.

I stopped talking because I knew that anything I said would be used against me. Furthermore, I was not interested in fighting. In fact, I was exhausted and had looked forward to a relaxing, renewing evening. I chose not to waste the energy I had left in that stupid game.

Crazy Woman

In the other extreme, a woman may explode violently. This is what men need to know.

Violence is an extreme situation for women. Talking about motherhood, we are wired to protect our children when the men in the tribe have failed. This means that when a woman goes into fighting mode, all hell breaks loose. Have you ever seen a mama bear protect her cubs? She will reap you apart if you come even close.

The warrior in women is an extreme archetype. Her Shadow face is our “Crazy Woman” and she is a blood-thirsty warrior. When a woman decides to fight, she is deadly for anyone around. She is not playing games. She is out to kill. The game is over when a woman fights back.

That is one of the reasons why women who have been abused for years may suddenly killed their attacker in a really bloody and violent explosion. I am not justifying their behavior. I am pointing out that the way of “fighting” that is so normal for many men to use in daily arguments is detrimental to women’s limbic system and psyche.

When women fight, it is not a game. When they are among friends and family, they want bonding and intimacy. Argumentation, as rational and logic as it may seem to most men, is deeply insulting (in the way we talk about a medical insult) to women.


Continue reading here.

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About Maria Mar

Maria Mar is a Sacred Storyteller and shaman who champions you to change your old limiting story to create the new story of your brilliance illuminating the world. She helps you awaken your magic, express your creative genius, embody your purpose and live your potential now.

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