It's All Your Fault! And You Know It!


As Erica Jong famously said, “Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilty and I will show you a man.” And since she said it, it’s only become more true.

Take the source for what it’s worth, but says the Daily Mail,

A survey has found that more than 96 per cent of women feel guilty at least once a day, while for almost half, the feeling strikes up to four times a day. Dubbed the GAT (guilty all the time) generation, the study found women beat themselves up daily about their friendships, relationships, work and body shape. It also discovered that almost half of respondents were kept awake at night by guilt, while three quarters said they had experienced more guilt since giving birth. ating unhealthily topped the list of causes, followed by not spending enough time with family and neglecting work.

While the survery consisted of 1,324 women and 55 men questioned by Stylist magazine, the findings still ring true. It’s no shocker than women are both socially conditioned to be hard on themselves and set up to fail by a society that demands we do it all and a post-baby “bikini body” into the bargain. Men, by contrast, externalize blame.

I once visited a therapist who told me that guilt was “a manufactured emotion” and was actually rage in disguise. I continue to think this is bollocks (except, I guess, to the extent that everything is some manifestation of rage) but she had a point: would we feel guilty in a vacuum? Or, like the shame of nakedness, is it some Edenic punishment for excessive self-awareness?

It’s unclear from this piece exactly who the GATS are — boomers on down? — and it seems reductive to assume our forebears were free of the same feelings. I’ve read through my grandmother’s old journals and found a litany of self-recrimination on subjects ranging from being too judgmental to not keeping a clean enough house. She may not have participated in a survey or externalized these emotions (less written in public about seeing a therapist!) but she felt the pressures of perceived inadequacy as deeply as does anyone today. We tend to assume that prior generations were so busy with “the Depression” and “the War” that they didn’t have time to think, apparently, or had been given such heaping helpings of perspective that no one let doubts interfere with their spunky riveting. This does both them and us a disservice: they were human and I’m guessing we’re no more lacking — or neurotic! — than were they.

It also seems weird that in a world where we’re perpetually accused of lacking shame, we’re awash in guilt. Is this some sort of internalized secular echo of the “Catholic guilt” Jessica Alba referred to in a recent interview? Could be.

That said, do we have a new set of pressures? Surely .In today’s inbox our tips line received an email about getting our bikini bodies ready. It’s December. Here, we’re snowed in. One hopes this is not something our grandmothers were subjected to.

The Guilty-All-The-Time Generation: How 96% Of Women Feel Ashamed At Least Once A Day
[Daily Mail]

[Image via Shutterstock]

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