Monday, October 11, 2010


Picture this: a poster showing a skinny, mean-looking cat glaring over its shoulder with the caption,

“I’m out of estrogen and I have a handgun. Any questions?”

It cracked me up when I saw it years ago. In the same spirit, I laughed at the quote below, which I copied and pasted from a friend’s FaceBook page onto my page.

“"Studies show that if a woman is menstruating or menopausal, she tends to be more attracted to a man with duct tape over his mouth, a spear lodged in his chest, with a bat up his ass, while he is on fire."

I laughed. A lot of women laughed. And one lone man commented, “Wow. Chilling.”

Then I began to think it over. It’s harsh. It is chilling. I began to wonder why I thought it was okay to post it. Why we women found such a brutal joke funny. And then it occurred to me - men have been putting us down with comments about our screwy hormones for years. Any time a woman is irrational or angry or emotional, she runs the risk of being asked if it’s her time of the month. And of course, sometimes it is. But sometimes we have good solid cause and it’s damned insulting when someone hints that you’re dealing with a bout of temporary insanity.

I wanted for a minute or so to explain this to the man who commented. I would have said, “You notice this is not really about men. It’s about how we feel sometimes and it's exaggerated for effect. There’s no direct slur here.”

I thought about what author Eckhart Tolle calls, “The Pain Body.”

If you’ve ever investigated complimentary healing practices of any kind, you know that energy is only invisible to the human eye. Other than that, it’s as real as the keyboard I’m typing on. It can even be photographed using Kirlian photography…colors and light surrounding every inch of us and extending outward.

Even the most skeptical of us can understand that energy is felt. You get it if you've ever been in a meeting where one person is really angry and found yourself getting tense and upset too, even when nothing about that person’s mood is personal to you. You get it if you've seen how your mood can even out when you’re around someone who is centered and happy - or you've come home from a boisterous social event feeling like you need to retreat quietly in a nice dark closet and let the rattling in your head subside.

We may not touch someone else or talk to them – but that does not stop an energy connection, for better or worse.

Tolle claims that as well as having pain bodies we’ve grown from our personal hurts, group pain bodies are passed down, generation to generation, too. For example, races and religious groups who have been oppressed have a shared pain body. Women, after generations of patriarchy, have a shared pain body. That is why such a cutting joke is funny. Darkness buried, is darkness festering. A joke, even a very sharp-edged joke with a graveyard underside can alleviate the festering.

Laurence Fishburne said, in an interview on The Actors Studio, that he once acted in a theater troupe called, “Kill Whitey.” It’s rage toppled on its side and turned into a joke.

Is it politically correct? No. Is there enormous pain underneath? Yes. But these kind of jokes, the incorrect, visceral and dark are escape valves. I winced when I heard Fishburne say that.

But then I laughed.