PMS is a no-go in AskMe? March 17, 2010 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Is PMS an illegal subject on AskMe now? I've been noticing comments recently where people are criticising others for suggesting that a woman's behaviour might be influenced by PMS.

On one hand, I understand the impulse. We can't just dismiss what women say because PMS might be a factor. And there are lots of things that cause similar effects (stress, etc). And if I was in the midst of a PMS rant and my partner suggested that what I was saying might not be entirely rational due to the time of month, heads would roll.

On the other hand, PMS is a less-than-lovely monthly rollercoaster ride that could indeed be influential in the fights that are often brought to AskMe. I know I've had to go back to my partner a week later and say "Sorry I was being so attack-y last week, hormones can be a bitch sometimes." It is a factor that I need to consider. It's something that I try to keep an eye on so I can be a bit gentler with myself, and I don't think it's out of line to suggest that someone's partner might want to keep it in mind as well.

In the most recent discussion I saw this play out in, we had Jacqueline's comment:
Maybe it's that time of the month. If she has PMDD, that combined with the infidelity trigger may have been enough to drive her (temporarily) over the edge.

Wait see how she is in a week or so.
To me, this is not dismissing the woman's concern. It simply suggests a potential factor that may have heightened her reaction, and that waiting for it to subside before re-opening the discussion might be more fruitful.

However, this suggestion is cast as "seriously messed up, sexist thinking" and flagged as such.

This reaction actually strikes me as a dismissive of the lived experience of many women, and thus as more sexist than the comment it's responding to.

I wanted to bring this issue to MetaTalk for discussion because I think the self-policing we do as a community is really valuable. What do you think? Should we discourage this type of answer?
posted by heatherann to Etiquette/Policy at 10:03 AM (174 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Wow, immediate deletion of comment meant to illustrate how dismissive pms explanations can be. I'll show myself out.
posted by found missing at 10:09 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


The line between "I am being clever" and "I am being obnoxious" is thinner and harder to place than maybe you are imagining, found missing. Kicking off the thread with a FIRST POST pms joke: predictable, not great.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:12 AM on March 17, 2010


I think the reason why Jacquelinne's comment may have been perceived as out of line is because the OP is talking about a SINGLE instance of irrationality. If someone has PMS that does cause them to fly off the handle, there is usually a regular pattern OF that behavior.

I know I've had to go back to my partner a week later and say "Sorry I was being so attack-y last week, hormones can be a bitch sometimes." It is a factor that I need to consider. It's something that I try to keep an eye on so I can be a bit gentler with myself, and I don't think it's out of line to suggest that someone's partner might want to keep it in mind as well.

Right. It happens to you regularly enough for you to know that for you, it is a pattern. But -- you have enough instances of this to be able to suspect that it is a factor. In the AskMe in question, there's only one instance of that kind of behavior -- and one instance is nowhere near enough of a pattern to suspect that PMS is a factor.

But as you've said, people do often 'diagnose" PMS as a way to dismiss valid complaints. So that, combined with the abscence of any other evidence that it could have validly been PMS, and people's hackles got up.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


If she has PMDD, that combined with the infidelity trigger may have been enough to drive her (temporarily) over the edge.
PMDD is a rare and controversial condition; why would it be a reasonable explanation for a person's behavior without any evidence that she suffers from it?

Oh, right. Because [insert millenia of casually blaming women's behavior on their reproductive system here].
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 10:15 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


To me, this is not dismissing the woman's concern. It simply suggests a potential factor that may have heightened her reaction, and that waiting for it to subside before re-opening the discussion might be more fruitful.

It might not be outright dismissal, but it's also not useful. It's too easy of an excuse. In addition to PMS, or PMDD, it could been that her underwear were riding up too high, or someone at work yelled at her, or she saw a duck get hit by a car on the way to work. (That happened to me this morning, so yeah, it could have been that.)

Why automatically assume it's PMS? That's low-hanging fruit, and it DOES dismiss all of the millions of reasons -- some legitimate, some mysterious, some half-assed -- that a girlfriend might suddenly tire of her boyfriend. Using the potential PMS defense yet again reduces women to how they react with their ovaries. There are really lots of other reasons why women do the things they do, and it's time we moved away from this stupid potshot.

It's no better than 19th-century scientists who maintained that women were unfit for higher education because it would take away their reproductive capabilities.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:19 AM on March 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


Why automatically assume it's PMS?

When did this happen? It was the 10th comment and contained the words "maybe" "if" and "may". It then advised the poster to wait and see if anything changes.

Not only wasn't "automatic" there wasn't even an assumption.
posted by spaltavian at 10:24 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not only wasn't "automatic" there wasn't even an assumption.

Yeah, but it was an assumption on some fairly thin grounds.

One swallow doesn't make a summer, and one instance of unusual behavior doesn't make a case of PMS.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:28 AM on March 17, 2010


I dunno, I'd like to think that we're mostly grownups who can control our behavior despite our normal hormonal fluctuations. I mean they happen monthly, for fuck's sake. Over and over and over. I've had what, 121 periods? So enough to realize that hey, I might be crabbier than usual, maybe I should think before I talk. It seems to work out pretty good.

If you are rude to your partner for an entire week due to a normal and predictable hormonal occurrence, well, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:29 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, we should discourage this sort of answer.

Here's the thing, this wasn't a case of "this person has a history of monthly emotional outbursts, so perhaps PMDD is a factor". It was "upset person plus two X chromosomes = PMDD, cause women totally go over the edge for no reason when they're on the rag, amirite?"
posted by Karmakaze at 10:29 AM on March 17, 2010


What's everyone getting so hysterical about?
posted by horsemuth at 10:29 AM on March 17, 2010 [36 favorites]


Not only wasn't "automatic" there wasn't even an assumption.

Did you read the comment she quoted, which is kind of the point of this whole MeTa? How is "Maybe it's that time of the month" not an automatic assumption of PMS? Or am I using the wrong word? Maybe you'd be happier with "assertion"? Doesn't make me feel any better, but you can have it if you want. And maybe it wasn't "automatic" in that there were several ideas bouncing around that didn't get typed out, but so the fuck what? All we know is what we see.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:30 AM on March 17, 2010


Why automatically assume it's PMS? That's low-hanging fruit, and it DOES dismiss all of the millions of reasons -- some legitimate, some mysterious, some half-assed -- that a girlfriend might suddenly tire of her boyfriend. Using the potential PMS defense yet again reduces women to how they react with their ovaries. There are really lots of other reasons why women do the things they do, and it's time we moved away from this stupid potshot.

I guess it didn't strike me as assuming the case, it struck me as suggesting a potential factor and a (non-judgmental) course of action if that might be the case.

I guess I'm asking if there's ever a case where we are allowed to acknowledge that PMS might be a potential factor?
posted by heatherann at 10:30 AM on March 17, 2010


Hey everyone! PANTIES!
posted by Mister_A at 10:30 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I read thought that thread earlier today: Thing is right? You could read the symptoms and ascribe all sorts of medical issues that might fit the list... "oh, maybe she is suffering from clinical paranoia, depression, Schizoid personality disorder, Alcohol Withdrawal, Ecstasy abuse, Lupus, Wolfram's disease..." Fact is none of them are really addressing the issue asked about, and none of them are helpful. PMS has traditionally been used to dismiss and easily "deal" with a set of behaviors, unless there is a clear indication this is the case I think it is wise to steer away from it, not because it is a forbidden issue, but because an open policy on it (especially in AskMe) becomes yet another place where it gets thrown around carelessly. If dude has been with the lady for a good length of time chances are he knows when her period is due and doesn't need our help with that.
posted by edgeways at 10:31 AM on March 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


I guess I'm asking if there's ever a case where we are allowed to acknowledge that PMS might be a potential factor?

If it sounds like there's a recurring pattern of such behavior.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:31 AM on March 17, 2010


However, this suggestion is cast as "seriously messed up, sexist thinking" and flagged as such.

I can only guess at what misha was thinking, but it seems to me that when a situation is as strained and problematic as the one described, saying "maybe it's her time of the month" implies that her concerns aren't genuine. that may not have been the original commenter's intention, but that can easily be seen as the comment's effect, anyway. even if PMS is a factor, it's not really part of the solution to this person's problem, because PMS is not the source of relationship problems. Trust issues, in this case, are. And bringing PMS up only serves the purpose of avoiding those trust issues in favor of something that, ultimately, is not the problem and which foists on a woman's biology the completely undeserved blame for larger emotional issues. again, probably not the original commenter's purpose in suggesting it, but that certainly seems to me to be the primary effect of a comment like that.
posted by shmegegge at 10:32 AM on March 17, 2010


I also think it's funny that when women are whack people are quick to say OH IT'S JUST HORMONES! but when women are horny...hormones don't exist?
Q: I think she's into me, she rubbed her naked bosoms on me and licked my ear. Should I ask her dad if I can court her?"

A: Maybe it's that time of the month. If she gets mad horny when she's ovulating, that combined with your excellent car may have been enough to drive her (temporarily) over the edge.

Wait see how she is in a week or so.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:33 AM on March 17, 2010 [14 favorites]


It seems to me that the fact that we can't consider the possibility of PMS being a factor without everyone carrying on about it being a sexist remark is indicative of just how far we haven't come. We are still so sensitive to the subject, that it's very mention brings out rage. PMS/PMDD are real conditions that can have real repercussions, and to act as if they don't is to dimish the entire experience of being a woman. It falls into the old trap of not taking women's health complaints seriously.

But having said that, I would also point out that just because a woman is under the influence of PMS, it shouldn't be used to dismiss what she is feeling or saying. I've always agreed with what Roseanne Barr used to say - "it's the only time of the month when I can be myself." The fluctuating hormones seem to remove the mental barriers against speaking your mind that women have in place as a result of being raised to always please everyone.

Also, regarding the "recurring pattern" issue - a woman can go for decades with no PMS symptoms, and then suddenly develop it.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:34 AM on March 17, 2010 [13 favorites]


Should we discourage this type of answer?

It all depends on the context. Here it seems a bit out there, but not completely terrible, just an odd suggestion.

PMS could be a valid answer but there's a history of using that phrase dismiss the concerns/feelings/actions of women, so even if it's a completely valid suggestion, there's still a lot of baggage in it that obscures any legitimate uses. That should be taken into account by anyone suggesting it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:35 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "One swallow doesn't make a summer, and one instance of unusual behavior doesn't make a case of PMS."

Fewer than two swallows doesn't make it definitely not summer.
posted by Plutor at 10:37 AM on March 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, regarding the "recurring pattern" issue - a woman can go for decades with no PMS symptoms, and then suddenly develop it.

Right, but wouldn't you still need to have it more than once after "suddenly developing it" to know that that's probably what's going on?

We're talking ONE instance of erratic behavior, period. Yeah, it could be sudden-onset PMS, but it could also be a hell of a lot of other things as well. We just don't know enough about the situation to be able to say WHAT it is, is the point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on March 17, 2010


Did you read the comment she quoted, which is kind of the point of this whole MeTa? How is "Maybe it's that time of the month" not an automatic assumption of PMS? Or am I using the wrong word? Maybe you'd be happier with "assertion"?

No, "assertion" is more wrong. Saying "maybe it's this..." is not an assertion or an assumption. It would be most commonly termed a guess.

For the record, no I didn't read the quote right at the top of the page that is clear as day. You see, I'm illiterate and have no idea how to read or write. I simply hit these odd square things at random; if anything readable comes out, it's pure chance.
posted by spaltavian at 10:38 AM on March 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


You guys are good. You've already changed my mind. Awesome.

It would be awesome if we could close this before we get more stupid jokes about hysteria and panties.

mudpuppie: I am sorry to hear about the duck incident! That is not a happy way to start anyone's day!
posted by heatherann at 10:38 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


MexicanYenta: "It seems to me that the fact that we can't consider the possibility of PMS being a factor without everyone carrying on about it being a sexist remark is indicative of just how far we haven't come. We are still so sensitive to the subject, that it's very mention brings out rage. PMS/PMDD are real conditions that can have real repercussions, and to act as if they don't is to dimish the entire experience of being a woman."

Oh, I think you misunderstood, I am diminishing the entire experience of being a woman because I have PMS, and dismissing real health concerns is a symptom. :)

Have a great day!!!!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:39 AM on March 17, 2010


Fewer than two swallows doesn't make it definitely not summer.

Right, and that's not why I'm saying it's "definitely not" summer. I'm only saying "you don't know what it is yet, so wait and see before you say it IS summer. Otherwise you'll be telling people to crack out the Bermuda shorts in the middle of winter, all because you saw someone's pet swallow escape."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on March 17, 2010


We're talking ONE instance of erratic behavior, period.

heh.
posted by gman at 10:39 AM on March 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


Right, but wouldn't you still need to have it more than once after "suddenly developing it" to know that that's probably what's going on?

To be absolutely certain - possibly. But I don't think it was presented as "yes, this is absolutely it." It was presented as a possibility. Just like everything else in those comments.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:40 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


resisting making a terrible joke about spaltavian being grumpy-sarcastic
posted by heatherann at 10:40 AM on March 17, 2010


I'm sarcastic in all emotional states.
posted by spaltavian at 10:41 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've had what, 121 periods? So enough to realize that hey, I might be crabbier than usual, maybe I should think before I talk.

I've had approximately 480 periods, but PMS didn't kick in until the last 24 or so. So I never even suspected that it was what was causing problems for a long time. Everyone is different.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:42 AM on March 17, 2010


One swallow doesn't make a summer

You misspelled "hummer."

Sorry.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:49 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


We should all try to be more aware of how our homones affect our behavior, imo. That goes for vasopressin-induced jealous rages and PMDD alike.

Yeah, the female hormone labels get tossed around more than they should,and that is sexist. It's done by women sometimes, and I think that's a symptom of our (I'm speaking for women here, just a hunch) desire to better understand this unfair, irrational game-changer we so share, and yet can't seem to culturally accommodate.

So, instead of pinning it specifically on PMDD (which I'll add I may have, and it's utter misery) why not just say "count to ten, sleep on it, let it breathe, and see if time settles the matter a bit." There's no need to bring specific hormonal diagnostics in for other people. It fundamentally lacks scientific accuracy, and it just shows me how much you need to feel in control of your own. It's just as off-the-mark as AskMe diagnoses of other illnesses in questions not seeking diagnoses. Does that make sense?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:53 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's everyone getting so hysterical about?

Dick.

Jacqueline's comment to me was fine. I agree that it may have seemed hasty to people, but I also find people who will jump on folks as being sexist for a single comment are sort of not living up to the spirit of AskMe. If every question about "my female friend/partner/family member did something uncharacteristic...." was met with a chorus of "PMS! PMS! PMS!" it might get tired. I found that comment totally okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:57 AM on March 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


PMS is a no-go in AskMe?

It is for me. I've received the "Sorry I was being so attack-y last week" apology from my wife more times than I count, and on a few of those occasions I've considered turning to askme for advice how to handle the situation. But I never have, and most likely never will, because my impression of the atmosphere on the green tells me I won't get anything constructive out of it. It's just not an an issue that ask me is capable of dealing with cogently.

On the other hand, if I ever need somebody to jump to the conclusion that I'm a controlling abuser, I know exactly where to turn.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 11:04 AM on March 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


You know what I realized recently? Yeah, sometimes hormones give me a really short trigger a couple days a month, but the things I get pissed off about usually turn out to be pretty worthwhile things to get pissed off about. Normally I just brush them off, but that doesn't mean they should be brushed off.

So MY problem with the "oh, it's just PMS!" rationality is that it's dismissive of the underlying issues that triggered the outburst of emotion. Yeah, I shouldn't yell at people during those two days a month that I want to yell at people. But they shouldn't be pissing me off on any day of the month.
posted by muddgirl at 11:06 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dick.

Ironic gendered insult or genuine? I can't tell.
posted by ODiV at 11:10 AM on March 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


Is PMS an illegal subject on AskMe now?

Don't ban me (insert gender neutral pronoun)!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:11 AM on March 17, 2010


Okay, as the original caller-out of the comment for being sexist and messed-up, I'll tell you EXACTLY what I was thinking:

I've had PMDD. It did not cause me to become suspicious, paranoid or decide to make impulsive decisions. It did cause me some serious physical problems, but that's beside the point.

There is nothing in the question to indicate this is an issue with the OP's girlfriend. It is a dismissive, lazy, throwaway remark (IMO, obviously) along the lines of, "Hey, maybe she is a paranoid schizophrenic/borderline psychotic/ninja/pirate/spy/assassin." It is completely baseless conjecture with, yes, a sexist undertone. She's a woman, she's being hysterical! Just because Jacqueline used a buzz word like "trigger" to suggest a reasonable basis for her statement doesn't, in fact, make it justified in the absence of any prior knowledge of PMDD.

And actually, I felt that another comment made by Jacqueline was sexist, and it had stuck in the back of my mind, so for me it was an, "Okay, I'm going to call her out on this one." I didn't think it merited a Meta and drudging up the past, so I just commented and FIAMO.
posted by misha at 11:14 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Menstruation joke.
posted by jtron at 11:19 AM on March 17, 2010


Oh, and also, PMS is not the same as PMDD. A significantly smaller percentage of all women have PMDD, which makes it even more ridiculous to through it in there as a possible cause with no other basis for the inference.

I'm done now, promise!
posted by misha at 11:21 AM on March 17, 2010


> So MY problem with the "oh, it's just PMS!" rationality is that it's dismissive of the underlying issues that triggered the outburst of emotion.

But this is a limited generalizaion about the kinds of emotional effects PMS/PMDD have. Hormonal irritability is just the most useful stereotype for sexist repression, which you're talking about. But the logic of justified feelings magnified by PMS doesn't carry over to other emotional effects it can have. I doubt there's some underlying good reason I feel reprehensible, worthless and suicidal, that only my hormones can bring to light.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:23 AM on March 17, 2010


What's everyone getting so hysterical about?
Hey everyone! PANTIES!


I'd much rather see *this* kind of comment discouraged.
posted by cribcage at 11:24 AM on March 17, 2010 [12 favorites]


But this is a limited generalizaion about the kinds of emotional effects PMS/PMDD have... But the logic of justified feelings magnified by PMS doesn't carry over to other emotional effects it can have

I make no generalizations about PMDD at all. I don't know anything about it, and I appreciate misha's contributions to this thread, for one.

Too, every person is different - I merely surmise whether it's healthy to categorize our thoughts and feelings into "rational" and "hormonal". We're under the effects of our hormones all the time. We can't separate ourselves into Mind and Body like this, no matter how hard we try.
posted by muddgirl at 11:29 AM on March 17, 2010


I once had a friend that claimed his long-term girlfriend and he would get into fights every month, coinciding with her period. I didn't believe him, said he was just acting like a jerk with confirmation bias issues.

So he kept a frakkin' journal to make an evidence record.

After four months and four records of a screaming fight within 24 hours of a 28-day cycle, I had to admit he was probably right.

Then I called him a jerk with OCD issues.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:31 AM on March 17, 2010 [13 favorites]


Certainly not all emotionally-charged knee-jerk responses to perceived insults on MeFi can be attributed to the strongly feminist members, just the ones that remind me why I don't have many female friends.

But sometimes their responses to some of my anonymous questions have been quite thought-provoking and helpful, so thanks :)
posted by lizbunny at 11:35 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


jessamyn: people who will jump on folks as being sexist for a single comment are sort of not living up to the spirit of AskMe.

I'm seeing a lot more "That comment was problematic because..." than "Jacquelyne is a big old sexist sexist." I'm sure Jacquelyne doesn't, like, hate women! But clearly there were a number of us who read that comment and went, huh? since it was presented without context, and appeared to follow in a Grande Olde Tradition of women-be-crazy-amirite rhetoric.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:36 AM on March 17, 2010


appeared to follow in a Grande Olde Tradition of women-be-crazy-amirite rhetoric.

I didn't think of that way, actually saw it as a great example of Askme in that you're asking random strangers and getting bunch of different answers which the OP then has to decide best helps their situation. That particular may or not fit, but it was interesting example of "asking the crowd" and getting a range of answers back.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:40 AM on March 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


But clearly there were a number of us who read that comment and went, huh?

Yep, totally agree with your interpretation about this. The problem we more generally have is that calling someone out in thread is or can be derailing and problematic. And at the same time, we don't want that to cause the sort of reinforcement of the status quo [i.e. don't make a fuss, just smile and deal with it] so I'm a lot happier personally when we can talk about this in MeTa and when people take callouts here first and don't make that fuss in-thread. People are mostly good at questioning other posters and answering the question, but it's important to remember that the second part is mandatory while the first part is optional.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:42 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


lizbunny: "Certainly not all emotionally-charged knee-jerk responses to perceived insults on MeFi can be attributed to the strongly feminist members, just the ones that remind me why I don't have many female friends.

But sometimes their responses to some of my anonymous questions have been quite thought-provoking and helpful, so thanks :)
"

So they're not good enough to be friends with, or reasonable enough for you to respect their opinions, but they are good enough to help you? Okay then.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:45 AM on March 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


I'm seeing a lot more "That comment was problematic because..." than "Jacquelyne is a big old sexist sexist."

Exactly. The tone of THIS MeTa question is, "what was wrong with that comment?" And what I'm seeing in here for answers are, "well, maybe people didn't like it because...."

That's all I was trying to say anyway -- I wasn't saying I agreed or disagreed with anything, I was speculating why OTHER people may have reacted thus.

Personally, in reading the original AskMe, I don't quite see that there was enough evidence to suggest that PMS was the reason for the irrational behavior described -- because the irrational behavior was coming on the heels of a woman whose friend was getting married. I'd personally suspect that the friend-getting-married stirred up some unexpected emotions before I suspected any hormonal component.

But that doesn't mean that I think the person who posted PMS as an option was evil, or that I personally would be bothered by it. I do understand why others are bothered, though, and was trying to point out what I was seeing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:45 AM on March 17, 2010


It's just not an an issue that ask me is capable of dealing with cogently.

Some of us can. Just use the same filter you would for any ask me - take what you can use, and leave the rest.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:47 AM on March 17, 2010


Certainly not all emotionally-charged knee-jerk responses to perceived insults on MeFi can be attributed to demons, just the ones that remind me why I don't have many friends.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:50 AM on March 17, 2010 [9 favorites]


I both didn't have a problem with the comment and also reflexively flinched away from the inevitable Metatalk. So... I win?

I read the comment as "Your girlfriend may be reacting to unrelated things that affect her mood and behavior. PMDD is an example of something that might affect a person like that," not "Your girlfriend is acting crazy, and your girlfriend is female, therefore it must be her hormones." It probably wasn't the best example because of the likelihood it would be read as the latter, but if my read on Jacqueline's intent is correct, it's not a bad response to the question.

(I become vulnerable to a specific kind of internet argument when I'm PMSing. The rest of the month, I know I should just keep my mouth shut, but there are about three days a month when I just can't. I submit my posting history for this past weekend as proof.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:52 AM on March 17, 2010


I think this would be infinitely less of a sensitive subject, if people were as quick to explain male behaviors by male hormone fluctuations. All men have hormones that cycle daily, yet you really only see this explanation applied to teens and steroid users.

That's what makes it different from all the things that cause similar effects/behavior like stress, which people ascribe pretty evenly to both genders.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:54 AM on March 17, 2010


It's a good thing this is a totally isolated example of someone on AskMe authoritatively suggesting someone has a psychiatric disorder after reading a second hand description of their behavior from a random stranger over the Internet.
posted by The Straightener at 12:05 PM on March 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


It is for me. I've received the "Sorry I was being so attack-y last week" apology from my wife more times than I count, and on a few of those occasions I've considered turning to askme for advice how to handle the situation. But I never have, and most likely never will, because my impression of the atmosphere on the green tells me I won't get anything constructive out of it. It's just not an an issue that ask me is capable of dealing with cogently.

If you phrased it carefully and explained your situation fully, I seriously doubt it would be a problem. I've seen AskMe's on what I would consider potentially difficult topics done well and get solid responses. Either way, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff with any question.

On the other hand, if I ever need somebody to jump to the conclusion that I'm a controlling abuser, I know exactly where to turn.

Just remember not to start your post with "I always wear an elegant pinstriped suit with a smokin' fedora...." ;)
posted by zarq at 12:07 PM on March 17, 2010


I think it is absolutely okay to put PMS or PMDD on the table as a possibility, if it is civilly, tactfully and respectfully done. When I go to my therapist/grief counselor and talk about changes in the way I feel about things and headbutting with my partner, she asks me to consider whether PMS is playing a role. She does so respectfully, and in context, and we are adults perfectly capable of respect and context here (even if we don't always show it). Not every woman is the complete master of her cycle, and not every woman can correctly identify hormonal fluctuations as the cause of anxiety, tiredness, anger, frustration, depression or what have you. I certainly cannot (complicated by personal physical differences).

I realize a big part of this discussion is going to be whether the instance quoted meets a 'civil, tactful, contextual' standard and that people's opinions may differ. But I certainly don't think it is de facto inappropriate to suggest PMS as a factor.
posted by bunnycup at 12:15 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a good thing this is a totally isolated example of someone on AskMe authoritatively suggesting someone has a psychiatric disorder after reading a second hand description of their behavior from a random stranger over the Internet.

Is it that time of the day?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:15 PM on March 17, 2010


I see what you're saying, bunnycup, but I think there's a difference in trying evaluate whether my menstrual cycle is playing a role in my behavior, and trying to speculate whether someone else's menstrual cycle is playing a role in their behavior.

One is introspective. The other is reductive.
posted by muddgirl at 12:21 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it that time of the day?

Inspired by this thread, clearly. But I'd been wondering about it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:30 PM on March 17, 2010


.
posted by gman at 12:44 PM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


watching my cycle has taught me so much about myself. and i don't mean just watching the 3 days before that 28 mark, but the whole cycle. for instance, right around ovulation i'm wicked horny, but also wicked emotional. i'm far more manic in this part than probably any other time of the month. i have studied female hormonal cycles a lot because i suffer from some pretty bad cramps/nausea/weight&emotion fluctuation. i'm one of those women who doesn't hide any part of my cycle (my boobs and pants go up a size gradually from ovulation to period and then go back down again from period to ovulation). so, i've considered suggesting a woman's cycle a time or two in threads like "omg, why am i crushing on this person so hard, it's about to kill me and it came out of nowhere!" threads, but i realized that it'd probably be met with the reaction here.

completely ignoring that most women have a menstrual cycle and that for a fair percentage of us that cycle intensifies emotional responses around certain times seems just as sexist as saying "omg, she's bleeding from between the legs, she must be unable to think!" - but if getting rid of the second means we have to do away with the first on large communities like this, it's not really the worst thing.
posted by nadawi at 12:45 PM on March 17, 2010


Is PMS an illegal subject on AskMe now?

you're under arrest. You can't even ask about it on MeTa.

Some people aren't going to like what you say, film at 11.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:48 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


also - i'm not picking on misha personally, but she is the one that said it in this thread and it's something i've wanted to bring up.

so I just commented and FIAMO.

that's not flagging it and moving on. that is flagging it and shitting in the thread. FIASITT is something i wish we could stop. if you say "flagged" in a thread, you're doing it wrong.
posted by nadawi at 12:48 PM on March 17, 2010 [12 favorites]


For the one swallow analogy: I've had the crazy emotional type of PMS exactly twice in the 20 odd years I've been menstruating, and not in consecutive years let alone months. So it's definitely possible to have random occurrences here and there.

But I also see how in this case putting it forward as an option does kind of dismiss all the other stuff going on, trust issues etc, and reduces it down to an unlikely physical thing for which there is no evidence. And yeah, often just dismissing stuff as PMS can definitely be sexist. At the same time ask.me is generally all about the wide ranging ideas and opinions and, while I personally think this one is a bit far fetched and unnecessary, it's still valid to throw it into the mix with all the other things so the OP can at least consider it.
posted by shelleycat at 1:04 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or did someone sign up for an account just to ask that question anonymously? Not strictly verboten I guess, but odd.
posted by Big_B at 1:05 PM on March 17, 2010


Ashley801: "I think this would be infinitely less of a sensitive subject, if people were as quick to explain male behaviors by male hormone fluctuations. All men have hormones that cycle daily, yet you really only see this explanation applied to teens and steroid users.

That's what makes it different from all the things that cause similar effects/behavior like stress, which people ascribe pretty evenly to both genders
"

For me, it's usually being hungry. I might not even notice having not eaten, but if I get pissed off and snap at people it's almost always because I haven't had anything to eat in about 8 hours. Anecdotally, as a male I don't really notice too much effect of a 24 hour hormone cycle on my likelihood of getting GRAR. I do notice that I tend to be more interested in sex at certain times of the day.
posted by jefeweiss at 1:28 PM on March 17, 2010


my impression of the atmosphere on the green tells me I won't get anything constructive out of it.


Some of us can. Just use the same filter you would for any ask me
--
Either way, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff with any question.

"Won't get anything constructive" was poor phrasing on my part. I certainly don't think so little of relationship askme advice as to believe I wouldn't get some really good feedback to such a question. More that the probability of accusations of "seriously messed up, sexist thinking" makes threshing wheat not really worth it to me (but I tend to not share many personal details online generally).
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 1:32 PM on March 17, 2010


For me, it's usually being hungry.

Whenever I'm crabby, I think of hermitosis' H.A.L.T. slogan. If I'm feeling ornery, usually I'm one of the 4 (heck, last night, I was all 4).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:33 PM on March 17, 2010


nadawi, you're right, I didn't just FIAMO. I should have done so, instead of commenting as I did. That would have been the best solution.
posted by misha at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fewer than two swallows doesn't make it definitely not summer.

It makes it a cruel, cruel summer?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:13 PM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I work in Northern Irish politics and have recently been engaged with the aftermath of the collapse of a savings cooperative.

Recent headlines have been as follows:
  • Northern Ireland leaders to meet Brown over PMS
  • Robinson slams 'shoddy' PMS probe
  • 'No alarm bells' in PMS accounts

  • So I was slightly confused to see this thread, and wondering why there would be any trouble with asking questions about the Presbyterian Mutual Society.

    I spend too much time at work.
    posted by knapah at 2:27 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    seriously messed up, sexist thinking


    emotionally-charged knee-jerk responses


    Was it really necessary to call Jacqueline's statement "seriously messed up, sexist thinking". Perhaps a a bit of an explanation would have been better. Maybe "There's not enough information in the OP's post to suggest PMS. Also, "Hey, maybe it is her time of the month" is often used as a dismissive term against women and many consider it sexist." would have been better.

    I think, "Hey maybe it is her time of the month" in this context is a baseless, unhelpful suggestion, and potentially offensive answer.

    I think "Hey bro it's totally her time of the month, she'll act like less of a bitch in a few days" is "seriously messed up, sexist thinking"

    But that's just me being non-confrontational. I reserve "seriously messed up, sexist thinking" for obscene stuff, repeat offenders, and people who just don't get it.
    posted by Procloeon at 2:27 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Everything is real. Nothing is permitted.
    posted by Elmore at 2:28 PM on March 17, 2010


    [!]
    posted by Sys Rq at 2:32 PM on March 17, 2010


    But that's just me being non-confrontational. I reserve "seriously messed up, sexist thinking" for obscene stuff, repeat offenders, and people who just don't get it.

    Really? I tend the other way - everyone is subject to seriously messed up, sexist thinking. Even Gloria Steinman and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Michelle Obama and jessamyn and me (sorry, tried to think of the 5 coolest women I know). We all grow up in a seriously messed up, sexist culture. It's natural that "Wow, maybe it's PMS" seems like a good explanation to lots and lots of people. Even though it's not.

    If we start to limit "sexism" to the worst offenders and ignore the "little stuff", we run the risk of allowing willfully ignorant people to draw the line further and further away from the goalpost.
    posted by muddgirl at 2:37 PM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Even Gloria Steinman and

    I'm pretty sure you meant to say Jerry Steinfield.
    posted by Sys Rq at 2:48 PM on March 17, 2010


    Even Gloria Steinman and

    I'm pretty sure you meant to say Jerry Steinfield.


    ...and what's the deal with the heteronormative patriarchy? I mean, come on! Really? What's up with that?
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:53 PM on March 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


    If we start to limit "sexism" to the worst offenders and ignore the "little stuff", we run the risk of allowing willfully ignorant people to draw the line further and further away from the goalpost.

    while i agree in theory, i tend to also think that over the top, fighty responses to the ignorant stuff gets the response dismissed as noise and keeps that goal line further away as well.
    posted by nadawi at 3:03 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I guess that depends on your definition of "over the top, fighty responses". In my experience, any response can be labeled "over-the-top" and can be met with dismissive comments. Or even better, something along the lines of "stop trampling on my speech you jackboot thug" (true story).

    It's one of those psychological principles, where it's hard for many of us to meter our responses, because every response gets the same counter-reaction.
    posted by muddgirl at 3:09 PM on March 17, 2010


    If we start to limit "sexism" to the worst offenders and ignore the "little stuff", we run the risk of allowing willfully ignorant people to draw the line further and further away from the goalpost.

    That's a fair point. Consider what you lose with that tactic, though. It's polarizing, which loses you some of your audience right out of the gate. Worse, it's nonspecific. Characterizations rarely persuade. If I tell you, "Aurora is an upscale country club," then you may or may not hear me. If I tell you, "Aurora is a country club with an 18-hole golf course, two Olympic-sized swimming pools, and a 10-year waitlist," then you'll get my point. Don't characterize. Be specific.

    Also consider what the community loses, in tenor. Jessamyn talks a lot about being "nice" and not being "fighty." I can't speak for her, but I think this is an example of that. Disagree with people, sure, and point out when and where they're wrong. (If they are.) But do so with a concrete explanation, not characterization, and it comes across less like an attack.
    posted by cribcage at 3:26 PM on March 17, 2010


    Procloeon: "But that's just me being non-confrontational. I reserve "seriously messed up, sexist thinking" for obscene stuff, repeat offenders, and people who just don't get it."

    There was an earlier sexism trainwreck with the same commenter.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:28 PM on March 17, 2010


    One swallow doesn't make a summer

    What do you mean? An African or European swallow?
    posted by brain_drain at 3:29 PM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


    i guess to me it's like the problem of equating marijuana with heroin. if you respond to all perceived sexism equally and there's no room for gradients of "this is problematic because" and "this is seriously messed up, sexist thinking", then there's less of a chance for learning conversation and more of a chance for shouty fights that don't fix anything. if your goal is to make things better, engaging the the people who are reacting from a place of ingrained sexist culture instead of overt sexist leanings seems to be the better road to take - flies with honey and all that.
    posted by nadawi at 3:30 PM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


    And--I'm not a fan of tone arguments for a lot of reasons.

    Moderation can't exist without extremes. I am more than happy to provide extreme anti-sexism whenever possible. Of course this isn't my site, etc., but I'm not going to run around shushing someone because their tone might hurt someone's feelings. Pointless.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:33 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    But the comment in question (misha's comment, I presume) wasn't an attack. Misha did not call Jacqueline a sexist. Misha did not accuse Jacqueline of sexism. She said that the idea that wacky lady behavior == PMS is "messed up, sexist thinking". Which it is.

    The problem seems to be that we can't say the word "sexist" or "racist" without throwing up everyone's forward shields - even when we're responding to a pattern of cultural thought and not labeling a person as sexist. But this sort of defensive reaction is really just a diversionary tactic, as we can see from this whole discussion.

    Fine, misha shouldn't have made the comment in the first place. Misha admits that. But I think the comment is being misread in the first place.
    posted by muddgirl at 3:36 PM on March 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


    There's no second place, by the way.
    posted by muddgirl at 3:37 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    "stop trampling on my speech you jackboot thug"

    'Sorry pal, the truth goes marching on!'

    (Can never see "trampling" without thinking of that song which so confused me as a little kid-- 'what, is "trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored" making peace or making war?')
    posted by jamjam at 3:37 PM on March 17, 2010


    yep, sexist, racist, and any other IST type of words are seen as an attack and have people covering their ears or getting overly defensive. there are a lot of people who don't draw a line between "that's X'ist" and "you're X'ist". you can keep fighting the battle that there's a difference, or you can understand that due to a whole bunch of baggage that isn't likely to go away soon, people are most likely going to hear "you're X'ist" when you say "that statment/idea/etc is X'ist" - which is why i favor a "that is problematic because" approach to the ingrained stuff and save the IST words for audiences i know are hearing what i'm saying or for the extreme cases.
    posted by nadawi at 3:42 PM on March 17, 2010


    Sorry nadawi. I'm sick of coddling adults because they've grown up in a situation where they don't have to think about anything that's troubling to their learned world view.
    posted by muddgirl at 3:47 PM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


    muddgirl - i was just discussing the language issues as it relates to the goalpost that you brought up. if you think your approach will get us there, go on with your bad self. i just don't happen to agree.
    posted by nadawi at 3:53 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    "Won't get anything constructive" was poor phrasing on my part. I certainly don't think so little of relationship askme advice as to believe I wouldn't get some really good feedback to such a question. More that the probability of accusations of "seriously messed up, sexist thinking" makes threshing wheat not really worth it to me (but I tend to not share many personal details online generally).

    I understand.

    Speaking purely for myself and no one else.... I'll try not to be too much of an ass when answering any of your questions in AskMe. :D
    posted by zarq at 3:55 PM on March 17, 2010


    Ovarytine. That's gold Jerry. Gold!
    posted by Elmore at 3:59 PM on March 17, 2010


    Sorry nadawi. I'm sick of coddling adults because they've grown up in a situation where they don't have to think about anything that's troubling to their learned world view.

    We all have different learning curves on different subjects. I'd like to think that if I said something stupid in a thread that you wouldn't choose to eviscerate me verbally for it but would instead try to teach me why I was wrong. Hopefully I'd be open-minded enough to listen to you and learn from your example.

    Is that coddling? Perhaps. But it does seems like a friendlier alternative.
    posted by zarq at 4:10 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    And by the way, I say that with complete awareness that it's a goal I also personally need to strive for.
    posted by zarq at 4:11 PM on March 17, 2010


    OUTRAGEFILTER! Jesus, this place sucks so much now.
    posted by Mayor Curley at 4:37 PM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


    You are not actually helping, you know.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:41 PM on March 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


    I've been thinking about this some more. I'm an often overly emotional, passionate, loud, excitable female who doesn't get PMS (besides those two times) so I really hate the whole stereotype about flaky women with their time of the month. I'm like this because I'm just like this (and I like who I am, being passionate about life is fun) not because of my hormones. But I'm sure there are many people out there who think I'm PMSing at certain times (or even just inherently unstable due to my gender) and have certainly had the suggestion thrown at me more than once. The idea that being female makes someone prone to otherwise unaccetable outbursts just pisses me off. Also I've seen Jacqueline commenting before and think she kind of does have a weirdly sexist world view and I often disagree with her.

    But I still don't really have a problem with this comment in this context even though I understand why it was called out and is being discussed. Part of the point of posting a question to ask.me is to get a wide range of viewpoints including those the questioner may not have thought of. I agree that there really isn't much evidence of PMS/PMDD in the question but maybe in real life there is, the boyfriend should be able to quickly evaluate and discard the idea if it doesn't fit. Another answer pointing out how the PMS assumption can be problematic and making sure the boyfriend didn't take it at face value and just assume that's the reason, no further investigation or thought needed, would also have had a place probably, just to make sure he's not falling for the shitty stereotype that many people have. But as it is it's OK to assume good intentions and some intelligence on the part of both asker and answerer.

    I also appreciate the genuine discussion in this thread about the whole issue.
    posted by shelleycat at 5:22 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Mulva?
    posted by 2bucksplus at 6:23 PM on March 17, 2010


    How many episodes of emotional outbursts by men do we ignore the hormonal basis of because the hormones are more difficult to chart?
    posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:05 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    How many episodes of emotional outbursts by men do we ignore the hormonal basis of because the hormones are more difficult to chart

    Judging from my arrest record, NOT ENOUGH.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:43 PM on March 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Here is why it is a touchy subject:

    1- It isn't nice to brush off someone's feelings and/or behaviors as being the result of their own personal emotional roller coaster. Even if that *is* the cause, nobody likes the idea of what they are feeling or saying being less relevant because someone else thinks they are suffering from a hormonal fluctuation.

    2- It is unfortunately a classic excuse people use when they want to diminish a female's feelings.

    3- PMS can also be used as a "get out of jail free" card. An unassailable excuse used by immature or manipulative people to "get away" with stuff. (Both sexes alike- "oh, honey, you DID say that, but you were PMSing pretty hard, so maybe you don't remember. It's OK, i understand.")

    4- And sometimes people use it as an excuse to deny their own feelings.

    Any way you slice it, bringing it up as a possible explanation for behavior probably isn't polite.
    posted by gjc at 8:10 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


    OUTRAGEFILTER! Jesus, this place sucks so much now.
    >You are not actually helping, you know


    While yeah, okay, Mayor Curley's japery can be a pain and I've griped about it as much as anyone else... I dunno. Maybe it's a confirmation bias thing, or I'm just a Bitter Barney after being held up as What Is Wrong With MeTa and compared to a fucking antisemite in the LOLPapist MeTa, but it does seem that racing to see who can lose their shit the fastest while assuming the worst about others has become the hot new thing on the Gray. Obviously MeTa is not a finite resource, but this recent spate of spats seem to be creating a lot more heat than light which in the long run could devalue MetaTalk's effectiveness, or at least the perception of it.
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:09 PM on March 17, 2010


    FYI I have PMDD myself, hence why I suggested it as a possible explanation for an "out of the blue" overreaction because I've frequently done that myself. The poster seemed genuinely bewildered why his girlfriend was doing this; taking his description at face value (girlfriend suddenly wants to end previously good relationship in overreaction to something he didn't even do with no other apparent explanations; also, I inferred that this was a relatively new relationship and not a long-term one so he may not be aware of any regular pattern of monthly mood swings yet), it seemed possible that there could be some other mystery factor driving her irrational overreaction to what happened. PMDD is one such possible mystery factor that can cause this sort of behavior and wreck havoc in relationships. If you have PMDD and not just PMS (it's a whole different ballpark) it can completely change your perception of the world, events, and relationships. She'd already requested that he give her some time so it seemed like waiting a week or so to approach her might be a good idea regardless and an especially good idea if there was an underlying hormonal exacerbation.

    Clearly, most of the posters in this thread don't have a good understanding of just how much PMDD can affect your thinking. A funny example from my life of just how much PMDD can mess with one's perceptions: For the first several months at my current job my monthly cycle and the timing of my boss's haircuts were in sync. He always got them the weekend before my PMDD. I *hated* it when he cut his hair. HATED IT. A seething, burning, fiery hatred that was completely irrational given that it was just a fucking haircut. But from my perspective, the previous week he had been handsome and friendly looking and suddenly this week he was hideous and mean looking and the only thing that I perceived had changed was that he'd cut his hair. Then one month he changed his haircut schedule, we were no longer in sync, and I realized that the length of his hair -- or anything else he had control over -- had nothing to do with why I found him so incredibly irritating and difficult interact with or even look at for about two days every month. But for the longest time, I really thought it had something to do with him cutting his hair too short!

    (I bet if someone was really bored they could even go through my MetaFilter posting history and chart the flamewars I get in to a 4-week cycle. Seriously.)

    To me, it feels like I'm the same month-round and it's just everyone else who's suddenly being an asshole. It took me a long time to accept that if everyone was suddenly being an asshole every four weeks like clockwork that maybe it had more to do with me than them. And this wasn't even confirmation bias -- neither my husband or I even thought about events or fights in this context or paid much attention to my cycle until the last year or so. My husband now keeps track of when those "wife is crazy" days are going to be each month and this has really helped both of us because it adds another level of perspective to my emotional reactions. (He also keeps track of when the "wife in heat" days will be so we can schedule for those to be mostly unstructured time at home to take maximum advantage of the sexyfuntimes.) He knows if I "hate" him during my PMDD days that I don't really hate him. Similarly, if I am ranting on those days about how I was horribly wronged and am going to do something drastic like quit my job or whatever, he gently points out that perhaps I should wait until after my period starts to decide, in case my hormones are affecting my perceptions and decision-making process. And he's usually right!
    posted by Jacqueline at 11:38 PM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


    "Sorry I was being so attack-y last week, hormones can be a bitch sometimes."

    We on the other team are fitted with glands that supply a more or less continuous dosage of testosterone. It's my considered opinion that males experience PMS more or less 24/7 from puberty, that a fairly large amount of male adolescence consists of working out methods of dealing with it that don't involve death for ourselves or somebody else, and that many of us are still not good at it.
    posted by flabdablet at 11:53 PM on March 17, 2010


    Sorry, missed the linky for still not good at it.
    posted by flabdablet at 11:55 PM on March 17, 2010


    Ashley801: I think this would be infinitely less of a sensitive subject, if people were as quick to explain male behaviors by male hormone fluctuations. All men have hormones that cycle daily, yet you really only see this explanation applied to teens and steroid users.

    Do men have hormonal cycles?
    posted by inconsequentialist at 12:37 AM on March 18, 2010


    a fairly large amount of male adolescence consists of working out methods of dealing with it that don't involve death for ourselves or somebody else

    Like football, for example.

    Curiously, the hormonal factors which probably go a long way towards explaining male competitive sports seem to work in the exact opposite direction for young women, with a large proportion dropping out of such pursuits not long after the onset of puberty.

    Sure, that's a pretty reductionist view of things, but right now I'm just hankerin' for a fight, ya know?
    posted by UbuRoivas at 12:52 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Really, for no reason, and apropos of nothing, I just wanted to remind you ALL that Dr. Feelgood is an awesome song.

    HE'S THE ONE THEY CALL DR FEELGOOD, HE'S THE ONE WILL MAKE YOU FEEL ALRIGHT!
    posted by Afroblanco at 1:40 AM on March 18, 2010


    And please tell me if I'm the only one, but every time I hear that song, I find myself worrying a little bit about Dr. Feelgood. I mean, yes, he's the one who makes us feel alright, he's gonna be our Frankenstein, etc, etc, but really -- who's looking out for Dr. Feelgood? By the end of the song, we're pretty sure he's gonna go down, but really, poor guy. I mean, nobody deserves the US justice system. Drugs should be decriminalized anyway.

    I mean, how long is he going away for? And what about Mrs. Feelgood? What if there are some little Feelgoods? They're going to grow up without a pa. Poor little things.

    And don't we owe just a little bit of respect to Dr. Feelgood? He's the king of these barrio streets. That, my friend, is no mean feat.

    He is, after all, the only one we call Feelgood.

    He's like our senator or representative. He's the Feelgood for our district.

    We should totally bail him out or something.

    Poor guy.
    posted by Afroblanco at 1:44 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Here's what Misha, who called Jacqueline's remark "seriously messed up and sexist," said:
    "I've had PMDD. It did not cause me to become suspicious, paranoid or decide to make impulsive decisions. It did cause me some serious physical problems, but that's beside the point."
    Here's what Jacqueline said about why she suggested PMDD as a possible cause:
    "FYI I have PMDD myself, hence why I suggested it as a possible explanation for an "out of the blue" overreaction because I've frequently done that myself."
    If they're two different people with different, but real reactions to the same health issue, who are supposed to be outraged with, who Metafitler, WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO?!
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:37 AM on March 18, 2010


    Well, I didn't post this to Metatalk. And I'm not outraged, either. I just thought the comment came across as, "women act like this once a month, amirite?"

    But if Jacqueline had written in the thread what she did here, basically "I have PMDD and it's made me act like this and maybe your girlfriend is the same," I wouldn't have had a problem with it.

    It was more the lack of context that made it problematical for me, personally.
    posted by misha at 6:26 AM on March 18, 2010



    Here's what Misha, who called Jacqueline's remark "seriously messed up and sexist," said:
    "I've had PMDD. It did not cause me to become suspicious, paranoid or decide to make impulsive decisions. It did cause me some serious physical problems, but that's beside the point."

    Here's what Jacqueline said about why she suggested PMDD as a possible cause:
    "FYI I have PMDD myself, hence why I suggested it as a possible explanation for an "out of the blue" overreaction because I've frequently done that myself."


    Purely anecdotally, but as someone married to a person who has PMDD, Jacqueline's description sounds a lot closer to my monthly reality. You can get huge emotional and behavioral ups and downs, far bigger than are described by garden variety PMS.

    I didn't read the original answer as sexist or inappropriate (other than needing all the usual implicit caveats of anything dealing with mental health here), and I'm having trouble seeing why it is deserving of such strong outrage. It may well be wrong, but then so are the majority of answers in AskMe. And Jacqueline's fundamental message (to give some time to see what's up) is really good, and might allow the OP to see what the driver of the situation actually is.
    posted by Forktine at 6:26 AM on March 18, 2010

    I'm having trouble seeing why it is deserving of such strong outrage.
    May I suggest that, as a male, you haven't constantly had your emotions and opinions blown off as inherently irrational, with PMS (and now PMDD) used as the excuse?

    If every time you disagreed with someone, you got blown off with "Oh, pay no attention to him, he's just feeling contrary because of all the testosterone in his system. See? He got annoyed that I said that - it proves how irrational he is!" you'd probably start seeing references to "testosterone poisoning" with a jaundiced eye.
    posted by Karmakaze at 7:05 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Misha did not call Jacqueline a sexist. Misha did not accuse Jacqueline of sexism. She said that the idea that wacky lady behavior == PMS is "messed up, sexist thinking". Which it is.

    That's one way to look at it, I suppose, but I don't think one (misha) can dismiss another's (Jacqueline's) contribution as simply "messed up thinking" and not have it appear to some as an ad hominem. Nor is it fair to characterize any negative reaction to be having one's comments called sexist as mere defensiveness. This is what misha said:
    Oh, and ignore Jacqueline's "Hey, maybe it is her time of the month," answer. That is seriously messed up, sexist thinking. Flagged.
    So not only does she advocate the OP to ignore Jacqueline's thought, but goes on to say it's so offensive that she's flagged it, presumably as "offensive/sexism/racism"*.

    Further, misha did not call out Jacqueline's "idea" specifically, but her "thinking". You read that as "idea" but I read it as "mind". With the charitable "idea" reading, it's a version of "hate the sin, love the sinner". But throw in the "mind" connotation and it easily seems that misha wants to love the sinner by exorcising the demons that would have Jacqueline suggest such a horrible idea. I think the "mind" reading is supported by misha's saying in this thread that she's noticed Jacqueline's "sexist thinking" before.

    So what do you think, muddgirl, should sharing one's views on AskMe mean being subject to suggestions that, while you might not be a demon yourself, you are probably possessed by them? I know I take such suggestions personally (apparently that's childish in your view). Maybe you wouldn't. Jacqueline doesn't seem to have... good on her.

    * As long as we're splitting hairs, Jacqueline's comment is not sexism because there is no institutionalized power differential between two mefites talking on the green.
    posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:06 AM on March 18, 2010


    (I bet if someone was really bored they could even go through my MetaFilter posting history and chart the flamewars I get in to a 4-week cycle. Seriously.)

    Filed under "interesting but dreadful uses of Infodump data".

    posted by FishBike at 7:09 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


    who's looking out for Dr. Feelgood?

    Quis benesentiet ipsos benesentio?
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:22 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


    It's strange for me not to get my all annoyed about PMS type comments. It would have been nice for Jacqueline to contextualise a bit in the askme thread as it was a bit blunt, but I recognise that's just her direct style.

    I wonder if the fiance was under the influence of hormones with his 2 grand stripper extravaganza. It was the hormones, dahling, HORMONES!
    posted by honey-barbara at 7:34 AM on March 18, 2010


    And, I'm sorry, but I'd like to clarify/reiterate that I find the "one swallow" argument rather asinine in the context of askme, where men are regularly convicted of abuse and jealousy on similarly flimsy evidence. Two answers in that thread mention anonop's control issues as if they are a forgone conclusion. Based on what? A single phone call he made to his girlfriend mentioned in a previous (semi-anonymous) question.

    If the answer to "Should we discourage this type of answer?" about PMS is yes*, then I want "male control issues" on the table too. Sure, PMS has a compelling historical, real-world argument against it, but 'men are controlling' is a far more frequent rash characterization on askme IMO. (Yes, I understand it doesn't actually work so tit-for-tat, and that to some of you, oh noes, I'm making it all about the mens.)

    * I hope it's no, and believe Jessamyn's mandatory/optional distinction above is a good one.
    posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:48 AM on March 18, 2010


    When my wife and I were living in Beijing a couple of years ago something terrible happened. Now, let me preface this story with the fact that I speak virtually no Chinese at all and had been in China for all of perhaps 3 or 4 months. I knew no one. She was my life line and my means for survival in this very alien land. One evening she became very agitated for absolutely no logical reason. She screamed and cursed at me, slammed doors, and made angry, insulting demands, accusations, and statements. The next day she called me on my cell. She was sobbing uncontrolably and had run out of her office. The next day she wouldn't get up. It went on like this for a week. She felt physically sick, suicidally depressed, angry, and then giddy and manic in a span of a few minutes. She could not work. She couldn't leave our apartment. She was completely irrational. I was scared.

    I began looking for contingecy plans. How was I going to get her help when I couldn't even get a taxi? How would I get her home where she could get the medical attention she needed? What if I had to get her treatment in a Chinese mental health facility? Finally, just as suddenly as it began, she calmly wrote me a note in Chinese to take to the pharmacy down the road. I handed the note to the pharmacist who slid two home pregnancy test boxes across the counter. Turns out she was pregnant. Her hormones were raging. Once they leveled off, so did she.

    Horemones were the last thing I thought of even in that situation. The reason I am alive today is that they sure as hell were the last thing I would have suggested.
    posted by Pollomacho at 7:54 AM on March 18, 2010


    FWIW i learned a valuable lesson in how hormones effect cognition when I had a pregnancy go awry. My reactions to things changed day to day, even hour to hour depending on what kind of hormones were coursing through me. I am more patient with others now with the awareness that their perception of any given situation might be different for any number of reasons.

    And in my twenties I did not believe PMS existed, but learned differently in my forties. Right now there is a man in my office that often does not have much to do in the mornings so spends waaayyy too much time talking. Normally this is a minor annoyance. Today I have been fighting the urge to TELL HIM OFF. To the point I realize just now that my jaw is extremely tight.

    This too, shall pass.
    posted by readery at 7:54 AM on March 18, 2010


    May I suggest that, as a male, you haven't constantly had your emotions and opinions blown off as inherently irrational, with PMS (and now PMDD) used as the excuse?

    That's super classy, thanks a bunch. As someone who has done the handholding and research through a PMDD diagnosis, I think I'm perhaps, even if just very very slightly, entitled to an opinion and perspective on this. And even without that, I (like most men) have spent my life living with women, interacting very closely with their emotions, and giving great importance to those relationships. Dismissing male perspectives on this so casually would be a mistake, I think.

    Of course it's insulting and wrong to dismiss people with "oh, you're just pmsing." My actual point is that reading that into what Jacqueline wrote is uncharitable and kind of a stretch. That isn't what she said, and it certainly isn't what she meant. Yes, another sentence of context would have been helpful. But even without that sentence, I still think that the outrage expressed above is misplaced.
    posted by Forktine at 8:31 AM on March 18, 2010 [4 favorites]


    My actual point is that reading that into what Jacqueline wrote is uncharitable and kind of a stretch.

    I agree. That said, I've seen her make a few comments that have seemed a little zing-y in the past in this same direction, so it's possible folks are reacting to that. The "oh you're just pms-ing" is such an annoying dismissive statement and yet it becomes sort of a sideways joke at the same time. Some women sometimes say it about themselves. Some women never say it about themselves or other people.

    In fact, the people who I hear say this the most are men, but they're often gay or transgendered men talking about themselves using this as a sort of badge of femaleness or realness. I have this sort of odd reaction to it on a personal level since I'm a pre-menopausal woman with a hormone imbalance such that I don't get periods or PMS. This is a good news bad news situation [mostly good, for me personally, but it's lucky I don't want kids] but it means that when jerkish people make some PMS crack at me (which happens very very rarely, even though I am often crabby) I get to give them a big blabla "well actually thanks to my pituitary tumor I don't have such hormone fluctuations but thanks for being dismissive of my feelings..." explanation.

    I feel like it's one of those statements that women have heard so often in belittling/annoying ways [especially by health care professionals, has been my experience] that it's hard to avoid a raised-hackles response. And yet a raised-hackles response just perpetuates the bad juju.

    Back when my hormones were more regular, I always had a deal with myself to never get a haircut right before my period was due. That my hair was probably fine but my perception of it was out of whack, so I appreciated Jacqueline's haircut story.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:51 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

    That's super classy, thanks a bunch. As someone who has done the handholding and research through a PMDD diagnosis, I think I'm perhaps, even if just very very slightly, entitled to an opinion and perspective on this. And even without that, I (like most men) have spent my life living with women, interacting very closely with their emotions, and giving great importance to those relationships. Dismissing male perspectives on this so casually would be a mistake, I think.
    You said that you did not understand why there was outrage. I explained why there was outrage.

    I never at any point claimed that you were not entitled to an opinion and perspective. I suggested that, even if you are sensitive to what people around you go through, you're much less likely to notice things that are not aimed directly at you. And that this particular stereotype is not likely to be aimed at you.

    To quote from your original comment:
    It may well be wrong, but then so are the majority of answers in AskMe.
    What you seem to have missed is that the issue was not that PMDD was a possible misdiagnosis in a neutral context. It's that mentioning PMDD in that context, with no other supporting data, matches a very pervasive sexist trope. I thought that, as someone unlikely to be the recipient of that trope, you might have been somewhat less likely to recognize it, or be outraged by it.
    posted by Karmakaze at 9:41 AM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


    That's super classy, thanks a bunch. As someone who has done the handholding and research through a PMDD diagnosis, I think I'm perhaps, even if just very very slightly, entitled to an opinion and perspective on this. And even without that, I (like most men) have spent my life living with women, interacting very closely with their emotions, and giving great importance to those relationships. Dismissing male perspectives on this so casually would be a mistake, I think.

    How about just re-reading what she said later in the day? I think you won't be so worked up about it then.
    posted by Ashley801 at 9:44 AM on March 18, 2010


    The studies I just glanced at vary widely in their estimation of the frequency of PMDD.

    Approximately 1% in a Japanese study.

    Approximately 19% in a study of Indonesian medical students.

    A widely cited figure, 4.6% is unfortunately from a relatively small study of American college women done using the DSM-III-R criteria for Late luteal phase dysphoric disorder (not the best set of criteria).

    A German study estimated the prevalence as 5.8%.

    A Swiss study, 8.1%.

    So less rare than I thought, and seemingly highly culturally dependent.

    PMDD seems to be successfully treated with some SSRIs. They seem to work equally well* when given intermittently (for only 2 weeks of the menstrual cycle) as they do when given continuously. Interesting because they are given continuously for other disorders. Wonder if giving them intermittently for MDD or GAD or whatever would help with some of the nastier side effects and problems with discontinuation. I'll be spending the rest of the afternoon researching and obsessing about this, so if anyone knows anything about that kind of medication schedule please share!
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:06 AM on March 18, 2010


    (By the way, all of those percentages are the percentage of women with PMDD within a specific age range)
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:09 AM on March 18, 2010


    Acting like men and women are the same usually manifests as acting like men and women are all men, which is incredibly sexist against women because it ignores the effect that women's physical biological characteristics has on their mental/emotional characteristics. Problems that are only experienced by women are treated as if they're not real.

    The knee-jerk feminist need to explain away sudden, uncontrolled anger and irrational thinking as being caused by anything OTHER than a woman's monthly hormone cycles is one of the reasons it took me so long to find out about PMDD, get diagnosed, and begin to cope with it.

    Characterizing a real and serious medical condition as not real / just an excuse to dismiss what women have to say / just an excuse women use to be bitchy when they don't feel well / etc. is really harmful to women with PMDD and their partners. I would even say that the magnitude of that harm (suppressing information and advice that would help many women get to the root of a problem that's seriously disrupting their lives and relationships) is far greater than the magnitude of the "harm" experienced by a few women who get irritated when someone says "oh, you just have PMS."

    Should we also suppress information and advice about women's greater susceptibility to iron-deficiency anemia because it might reinforce the sexist stereotype of women being inherently bad at math? (The math part of the brain is very sensitive to blood oxygen levels.) Or can we acknowledge that men and women have physical biological differences that can lead to mental/emotional differences?
    posted by Jacqueline at 10:30 AM on March 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


    I completely agree with a lot of what you say Jacqueline. I acree that it is harmful to pretend that there are never times when women's physical biological characteristics negatively affect their mental/emotional characteristics.

    The problem is that although men have just as many biological characteristics that can negatively affect their mental/emotional characteristics, I don't think society acts that way.

    How often does the average man get told that, say, if he's cranky in the morning, it's probably just because of his hormones?

    How often does a men-only condition that could cause some men to say have problems with say, math, lead to lots of men being looked at skeptically for math related work?

    I agree with you that it would harmful to act like some problems that women really do experience aren't real. But I think we can't swing the other way and not be sensitive at all to the fact that society treats women differently for it, when men also experience biological problems that lead to mental/emotional problems.
    posted by Ashley801 at 11:00 AM on March 18, 2010


    Society generally doesn't treat men as having male-only characteristics/problems because society generally uses male biology, behavior, etc. as the default standard for what *people* are (or should be) like. Men are seen as "normal" and when women deviate from "male" behavior they are seen as being abnormal and not acting correctly.

    The solution to this sexism isn't to continue to go along with pretending that we're all men by encouraging women to act like men and deny that they're women.
    posted by Jacqueline at 11:22 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


    It occurs to me that saying "Oh, you're just PMSing" has a male equivalent - "Oh, you're just thinking with your penis". Here's the thing - they can both be insulting, but they both exist because sometimes they're true. I think it all comes down to the spirit in which it's said.

    And lest any of you start questioning my feminist cred, I'd like to mention that I started a neighborhood "Women's Lib" club in 1967. That's right, bitches, 1967. What were you doing in 1967? In the early 60's, I was wearing dresses while walking to school in knee-deep snow (uphill both ways, of course) because girls weren't allowed to wear pants, ever. I have fought battles that most of the (much younger than me) women on here have enjoyed the fruits of, and they never even realized it has ever been any other way. I have ripped so many men a new one for their sexist behavior that I have had a (now ex) boyfriend ask me "Would you like me to hand my testicles over to you right now, or would you prefer I go get a silver platter first?" I have been absolutely militant, I have been fired from jobs, I have been called every bad name you can think of and a few you've never heard, I have escorted friends into abortion clinics and gotten into the face of the protesters outside, I have been the only female working in the company at more jobs than I can remember, and I have alienated many men who used to consider me a friend because I called them out on bullshit behavior.

    One night at a club, when the band exhorted the women to "Show us your tits!", I walked past a barely legal, rather flatchested woman who was complying with the instructions, and I told her to "put them away." She assumed I was saying it because she was flat, and she got angry and said "Why should I?" And I answered her, "Because you're too good for these assholes." Her expression changed to total surprise, she put her shirt back down, and hopefully, maybe, I made a difference in her thinking.

    So, yes, I have fought the fight, and I have been doing it for a long time. But I can also tell you this: PMS exists, it makes lots of women bitchy, and to pretend it isn't so does a disservice to women who have to suffer with it and the men who do their damndest to understand it. Not all men are evil. There are some good ones, and they deserve a break. Give them the benefit of the doubt. And give your fellow women the benefit of the doubt, when they are honestly trying to be helpful.
    posted by MexicanYenta at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


    Society generally doesn't treat men as having male-only characteristics/problems because society generally uses male biology, behavior, etc. as the default standard for what *people* are (or should be) like. Men are seen as "normal" and when women deviate from "male" behavior they are seen as being abnormal and not acting correctly.

    I agree.

    The solution to this sexism isn't to continue to go along with pretending that we're all men by encouraging women to act like men and deny that they're women.


    I completely agree with this too, but I think we still can't ignore your first paragraph. I think there must be a solution that takes both things into account.
    posted by Ashley801 at 11:28 AM on March 18, 2010


    which is incredibly sexist against women because it ignores the effect that women's physical biological characteristics has on their mental/emotional characteristics

    EVERYBODY'S "physical biological characteristics" can affect their mood. Maybe she was hungry. I'm fortunate that I am equally mellow alllll month long, unless my blood glucose gets low. Then I am angry and irrational and weepy. I've learned to warn all friends and romantic interests that if I start acting crazy, tell me to eat a fucking sandwich and that will fix it. Maybe she's suffering from seasonal allergies. I dispensed a lot of Allegra this week--looks like it's that time of the year around here. A friend of mine is a cranky mess each spring til she starts back on an antihistamine. Has she recently started taking any new medications? Many meds are associated with irritability. So are vaccines. Maybe she has hyperthyroidism. Maybe it's Alzheimer's! Mood and personality changes are one of the early symptoms, and we don't actually know how old the OP's girlfriend is.

    There are a zillion physiologic factors that can alter ANYONE'S emotional state. Aside from any question of sexism, without something specific to suggest it, e.g. once monthly wacky girlfriend behavior, it does not seem helpful to offer one of those zillion factors.
    posted by little e at 11:29 AM on March 18, 2010 [7 favorites]


    I'm sure you all know about the 1981 murder trial in the UK where a woman successfully negotiated her charges down to manslaughter using the PMS defense.
    posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:33 AM on March 18, 2010


    I found that comment silly, because there was no reason to believe it was an accurate diagnosis. She's female and angry - it must be hormones. That is no more useful than the suggestion that she might have hit her head and injured her frontal lobe. Maybe she had cancer, got chemo and she has chemo induced behavior changes? Maybe she has early onset Alzheimer's? There is nothing in the question to support any of those.

    I also believe that it was intended to be helpful and not dismissive. It's just not relevant because isn't not grounded in the facts presented in the question.
    posted by 26.2 at 11:39 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Maybe she thinks that her boyfriend is a creepy cheater-enabling asshole because of the role he played in Mr. Strip Club's debauched bachelor partying.

    I thought that was actually more likely than the PMDD thing, given what I know about bachelor parties and the sometimes nasty code of silence surrounding them. Maybe the OP's girlfriend heard something from her female friend who heard something from her boyfriend who was at the bachelor party.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:19 PM on March 18, 2010


    MexicanYenta: "And lest any of you start questioning my feminist cred, I'd like to mention that I started a neighborhood "Women's Lib" club in 1967. That's right, bitches, 1967. What were you doing in 1967? "

    Woah. You don't know me well enough to be talking to me (or anyone else here) like that. My views about sexism differ from your own. I'm younger than you. If you want to get into some kind of pissing match well, I could go there, but I'd rather we agree to disagree and focus our energies on fighting sexism, as we perceive it, instead of fighting with each other.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 12:29 PM on March 18, 2010


    *Cue 200+ comment rigamarole over MexianYenta's usage of 'bitches'*
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:44 PM on March 18, 2010


    What were you doing in 1967?

    I was eating a sandwich.
    posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:48 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


    focus our energies on fighting sexism, as we perceive it, instead of fighting with each other.

    That was exactly my point. If you'll re-read my entire comment, you'll see the whole thing is periodically laced with humor and "let's just get along". "That's right, bitches" was humor. As was "Uphill both ways in the snow."

    Which reinforces what I said about giving people the benefit of the doubt. You didn't. I would refer to this as starting a pissing match, but that would be, you know, sexist.

    I also said it was it was a pre-response to anyone who might be questioning my feminist cred (something I have run into before.) If you weren't questioning it, then it doesn't apply to you.
    posted by MexicanYenta at 12:49 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


    how is this ok?

    How about just re-reading what she said later in the day? I think you won't be so worked up about it then.

    i mean - if us women are in here fighting the good fight to not be dismissed based entirely on biology and monthly cycles - especially when it is often presented as a "joke" - then why take the chance, in this thread of all places, to get that jab in?
    posted by nadawi at 12:49 PM on March 18, 2010


    MexicanYenta can call me a bitch whenever she likes.
    posted by gman at 1:09 PM on March 18, 2010

    i mean - if us women are in here fighting the good fight to not be dismissed based entirely on biology and monthly cycles - especially when it is often presented as a "joke" - then why take the chance, in this thread of all places, to get that jab in?
    Yeah. I mean, it was in my defense, and I get the point being made, but it was kind of a cheap shot.
    posted by Karmakaze at 1:19 PM on March 18, 2010


    MexicanYenta: "That was exactly my point. If you'll re-read my entire comment, you'll see the whole thing is periodically laced with humor and "let's just get along". "That's right, bitches" was humor. As was "Uphill both ways in the snow.""

    Glad you were trying to be humorous. I suggest not calling people bitches unless you know them well enough (and they know you well enough) to know that you're joking. I gave you the benefit of the doubt; if I hadn't, I assure you my response wouldn't have been as friendly as it was.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:22 PM on March 18, 2010


    MexicanYenta: "Which reinforces what I said about giving people the benefit of the doubt. You didn't. I would refer to this as starting a pissing match, but that would be, you know, sexist. "

    And--by the way--please explain why you think this is sexist. I'm coming up blank.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:26 PM on March 18, 2010


    Literal "pissing matches" tend to be between men, not women. :)
    posted by Jacqueline at 1:47 PM on March 18, 2010


    sexist because the term "pissing match" is a pretty masculine activity - much like the phrases about testicular fortitude.

    and if that's what your "benefit of the doubt" looks like, it's no wonder you find yourself in so many dustups...
    posted by nadawi at 1:47 PM on March 18, 2010

    And--by the way--please explain why you think this is sexist. I'm coming up blank.
    I think it's because pissing matches are about pissing for distance, which is easier done with one set of plumbing rather than another? If not, I've got nothing, either.
    posted by Karmakaze at 1:48 PM on March 18, 2010


    Nadawi: if us women are in here fighting the good fight to not be dismissed based entirely on biology and monthly cycles - especially when it is often presented as a "joke" - then why take the chance, in this thread of all places, to get that jab in?

    He said he didn't understand why the original answer was deserving of such strong outrage.

    When a possible reason he didn't understand the outrage was suggested to him, he replied by arguing the reasons why his opinions on the original answer should not be dismissed outright because he's a guy.

    That was a non-sequitur.

    The person addressing to him didn't necessarily say that his opinions should be dismissed, whether he's a guy or not. They only put forth a reason he might not understand the outrage towards them--- in response to him saying he didn't understand the outrage.

    I completely agree with him that PMS/PMDD are real things that sometimes happen in life. I completely agree with him that, in dealing with his wife's PMDD, he could have just as much familiarity or more with the subject as any woman. His opinions on PMDD can be just as valid regardless of whether or not he is a guy.

    That still does not mean he understands why someone would be annoyed to see the original answer or find it sexist. He even said he didn't understand that.

    I'm not saying you can never understand PMDD unless you're a woman. But I do think that it's hard to understand why certain things irk some groups so much if you're not a member of a group that is targeted by them.

    When I get randomly pulled over by the cops for no reason, it's not a big deal. And if I saw someone raising hell over it, I might think to myself, "what's the problem? It's just 5 minutes out of your day."

    But if I got pulled over for no reason 30 times a year, I think I would start to get pretty irked by it. And if I started noticing it only happened to people in MY minority group, I think I would get irked when I saw it happen to other people in that group too.

    I think that a lot of the time, people can only have empathy for how obnoxious those sorts of things are if they experience them themselves. It's hard to really get it if it never happens to you.

    If you take my comment as a joke or cheap shot, I accept that. But it wasn't meant as a joke. I think the main problem is that guys aren't used to having their good faith arguments responded to with "explanations" like that, so it might be enough for someone to understand how frustrating it is- frustration builds over time. Just like I wouldn't really be that frustrated after being pulled over only once. If I could have thought of something biological for which people really do discriminate against all (and only guys), I've have used that instead, even though it would have been more obnoxious. But, there aren't many things like that out there.
    posted by Ashley801 at 2:18 PM on March 18, 2010


    ashley801 - it seems to me that you're grinding an axe in here about male hormonal changes.

    I think this would be infinitely less of a sensitive subject, if people were as quick to explain male behaviors by male hormone fluctuations

    How about just re-reading what she said later in the day? I think you won't be so worked up about it then.

    How often does the average man get told that, say, if he's cranky in the morning, it's probably just because of his hormones?


    either you mean it seriously or jokingly, but this isn't a situation where "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" should be used. if you don't want people to use your hormonal shifts as a reason to dismiss you, don't do it to other people, even (maybe especially) if you're just trying to teach them a lesson.
    posted by nadawi at 2:25 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I am beyond mystified why this thread continued on past EmpressCallipygos's first comment. (It was number three in the thread.) If there were ever a question-answerer and conversation-stopper, I would have expected EC's explanation to be it.
    posted by jfuller at 2:59 PM on March 18, 2010


    jfuller, because this isn't AskMe anymore. The OP's question isn't the conversation - there's a lot here to discuss.
    posted by restless_nomad at 3:29 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


    either you mean it seriously or jokingly, but this isn't a situation where "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" should be used. if you don't want people to use your hormonal shifts as a reason to dismiss you, don't do it to other people, even (maybe especially) if you're just trying to teach them a lesson.

    If I were in a thread arguing that a group of people I am not part of shouldn't be that upset by something that I thought wasn't that big a deal, or perhaps even justified, but they thought was part of a larger way that they were treated by society that I wasn't, I would want to experience being treated that way so I could find out if they were right or not. I would think that anyone would. It's not simply"what's good for the goose is good for the gander."
    posted by Ashley801 at 4:36 PM on March 18, 2010


    Jacqueline- Society doesn't care what the cause is, and whether the person is male or female. It just cares that people act rationally. Outbursts are frowned upon. Doesn't matter what the reason is. To say that evenness of mood is somehow a male characteristic does a disservice to both sexes alike.
    posted by gjc at 4:49 PM on March 18, 2010


    if a gay guy called someone a spic to show them why it was wrong to call him a fag, i'd say he was out of line and that it just perpetuates the thing he's fighting against. same goes for your "come back later" comment. rationalize and intellectualize it all you want. it was a shitty thing to do.
    posted by nadawi at 5:02 PM on March 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


    if you think it was a shitty thing to do, i think that's your right.

    but your example isn't the same, because hispanic people get called slurs just like gay people do, and it hurts just as much. that isn't a case of something that only happens to the gay person and not to the hispanic person.

    it would be a better example if the gay guy called someone a honky or a white devil, to show a white person why calling him a fag was wrong. someone who is not usually called a racial slur, someone who is not hurt by it in the same way.

    actually, i think when white people (or any other dominant group) experience a little bit of racism directed towards them, it does help them understand why racism is wrong. i'm actually not against those people experiencing a bit of racism if they go around arguing racism isn't such a big deal.
    posted by Ashley801 at 5:19 PM on March 18, 2010


    i'm actually not against those people experiencing a bit of racism if they go around arguing racism isn't such a big deal.

    wow. ok. we're just not going to get in the same universe, much less eye to eye. nothing in your explanation deters my opinion that your just practicing (albeit overly intellectualized) goose/gander rationalizations and i prefer the golden rule. much like the other longish discussion i had in this thread, if you think that'll get us to the goal post, more power to you - i just don't happen to agree.
    posted by nadawi at 5:23 PM on March 18, 2010


    PMS=physical symptoms. PMDD=emotional symptoms. PMS does not mean women become emotional around their period. It means they feel uncomfortable, which can lead to a worse mood. I don't think a lot of people understand the difference because PMS has been marketed in the US as a reason to dismiss women, or as an excuse for women to act inappropriately. So annoying.
    posted by ishotjr at 5:25 PM on March 18, 2010


    lishotjr, do you have a cite for that? I'm seeing a distinction in severity of symptoms between the two, not type of symptoms. Both appear to have physical and emotional symptoms.
    posted by restless_nomad at 6:44 PM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


    PMS=physical symptoms. PMDD=emotional symptoms. PMS does not mean women become emotional around their period. It means they feel uncomfortable, which can lead to a worse mood. I don't think a lot of people understand the difference because PMS has been marketed in the US as a reason to dismiss women, or as an excuse for women to act inappropriately.

    "PMS is an ill-defined problem with no standard definition....[A]bout 3% to 5% of women report symptoms consistent with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), the most severe form of PMS," says this bigass therapeutics book conveniently located on my floor (it is a bigass book so it's handy for killing bugs)*, which includes on a list of common PMS symptoms anger, anxiety, crying, labile mood, decreased feeling of well-being, depression, sadness, hopelessness, irritability, and self-deprecating thoughts. The DSM-VI criteria for PMDD, for what it's worth, include physical as well as mood symptoms. There are endless discussion to be had about the relationship of medicine and marketing, and my vague US-centric understanding is that PMDD is controversial or not widely recognized outside the US, but that's about the medicalization of PMS in general. PMS versus PMDD is a distinction of degree.

    *Koda-Kimble, Applied Therapeutics
    posted by little e at 8:15 PM on March 18, 2010 [6 favorites]


    PS Sarafem is a bullshit patent extender.
    posted by little e at 8:16 PM on March 18, 2010


    Is there some kind of quota now? We need to have at least 2 contentious triple-digit-comment MeTa threads a week or a hole opens up in the space-time vortex?? Give it a fucking rest already.
    posted by jonmc at 8:36 PM on March 18, 2010


    little e, PMDD (whether it's named that or not) is definitely recognized outside of the US. The consensus seems to be that it exists. Research is done using various criteria, scales, and assessments. In addition to the DSM, it has an ICD-10 code that makes me LOL, it's one of the premenstrual tension syndromes. There was a significant international effort to create better criteria for the ICD-10, although I can't see them because I am not a cool academic.

    I don't see the evidence for it being created or pushed by solely by our wacky US medicalization. The use of SSRIs (and to a lesser extent, cheap benzos) to treat PMDD seems well-supported by various studies done in multiple countries.

    PMDD tends to be comorbid with lots of other brain stuff, also treatable with SSRIs. Similar etiologies? Hmm.

    Sarafem has to be one of the most obnoxious IT'S A LADY DRUG FOR YOUR LADY PARTS, LADY drug names ever.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:18 AM on March 19, 2010


    By the way, the ICD code is related to PMDD controversially, so scratch that.

    Interesting that from the dozen + studies I've glanced at, the people who are actually studying PMDD are pretty sure that it exists. Other people are not so convinced. ?!

    (Take my opinions with a huge grain of salt, I am not a psychologist, doctor, or drug company rep)
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:29 AM on March 19, 2010


    Yeah, I guess I should have been more clear--not everywhere outside the US, but some place(s) that I don't remember specifically, the drug company attempted to get the PMDD indication for fluoxetine, but there was some controversy and the relevant regulatory body said it wasn't a well-established condition. I'm a pharmacist where it is well-established, and I'm comfortable with the use of SSRIs for PMDD. (Normally I'd go digging for details cause the way these things are perceived in different places is really interesting, but I've got a project right now that's sucking up all of my patience every day for reading about drugs.)
    posted by little e at 10:54 AM on March 19, 2010


    I know what you mean, I think it was a European regulatory body...? If you ever want to share more, please do, I am both ignorant and fascinated.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:06 AM on March 19, 2010


    I've never made a "Metafilter: Foo" joke before, and won't start now, but damn if the end of your last comment doesn't tempt me, ifdssn9.
    posted by SpiffyRob at 12:27 PM on March 19, 2010


    > What were you doing in 1967?

    Holy crap, I wasn't even a developed egg yet. Mexican Yente is Aaaanktient.
    posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:38 PM on March 19, 2010


    > I'm a pharmacist where it is well-established, and I'm comfortable with the use of SSRIs for PMDD.

    HEY, be my pharmacist for a sec. I'm ON an SSRI and it's great, but I seem to still be getting too much of the ol' PMDD. I don't like being suicidal ever, even on predictably cycling days. What do they do for that, double up with a dopamine reuptake inhibitor? Any idea?
    posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:40 PM on March 19, 2010


    There are several options. If you take birth control pills already, or don't have a reason not to, switching to or starting Yaz or Yasmin can help with both mood and physical symptoms. Since you're doing well otherwise on the SSRI, I'd say talk to your gyn about that first.

    If that doesn't help, you can consider switching things up with the SSRI. A different SSRI might be better--they're overall of roughly equal efficacy, but different people respond to each drug differently. Adding Effexor or one of the older antidepressants used for PMDD is an option. The best option depends on your psych history and history of response to antidepressants. Is your SSRI prescribed by a psychiatrist or a general practitioner?
    posted by little e at 2:31 PM on March 19, 2010


    AV, I had an SSRI and Welbutrin, and that helped for a while.
    posted by misha at 2:40 PM on March 19, 2010


    Bleh, my bad, I'm glad you said that--I actually meant to type Wellbutrin, not Effexor. (This is one reason I don't answer drug questions on the green--I can't trust my brain and my fingers to move at the same speed which is fine for smartassy comments but not this stuff.) Effexor is an option for *switching*, because it also affects norepinephrine, but at lower doses it's still just going to be hitting the serotonin receptors. Wellbutrin plus the SSRI is a good combination.
    posted by little e at 7:08 PM on March 19, 2010


    I know what you mean, I think it was a European regulatory body...?

    Okay! Curiosity got the better of me so now I've been browsing the archives of the European Medicines Agency instead of what I ought to be working on, heh. I can't find the statement on their original decision, but the British Medical Journal has the story. I'm not sure whether the Society for Menstrual Research was actually involved or just happy about it. Hmm. Yeah. Menstruation's not a disease, but I have no qualms about rejecting my "normal, healthy menstrual cycle" if the placebo week of my BCP falls at an inconvenient time.

    However, the EMA's position has changed. Last year they issued a statement on the need for guidelines for treatment of PMDD.

    Basically they say: it was controversial and not accepted by regulatory bodies. PMS was not well-defined, which meant that each group of researchers studying it had their own definition. If you can't even agree on exactly who you're treating and what you're treating them for, you can't make meaningful conclusions about whether a drug is safe and effective for treatment of the condition. Since then, we've agreed on what PMDD actually is and better studies have been done, so they're cool with it. Most interesting.
    posted by little e at 7:59 PM on March 19, 2010


    AV, my doctor told me to take a nice dose of Zoloft for a few days before my period. It really helps when I remember to take it. Downside is it's a sex drive killer and generally those days before my period are otherwise filled with....friendliness....which is actually kind of fun, although I've been told by an authority that [friendliness] combined with rabid, random hostility is actually a weird and not-fun combination.

    The other thing we now do is Mental Health Week, where I have to figure out when my next period is going to start, set a date a week before, and through that week not cave to the desire to eat crap food filled with sugar, salt, and fat. We don't go out and order pizza and beer, etc. To do this requires advance planning and filling the refrigerator with party items like kale, but having done that it's a self-sustaining operation because you have to eat the baby artichokes once you've bought them.

    These two things really, really help, and either one of them alone does wonders. I'm not 100% sure what causes the worst of it, but sometimes I don't have such terrible symptoms and I think that's due to the random chance that sometimes I'm eating better than other times, so I don't notice what's not there (the long shadow of krazeeeee) until I've gotten my period and noticed its absence retroactively.
    posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:47 AM on March 20, 2010


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