Why Are Women Afraid of Pain?

“Your getting hot and sweaty. You should stop and go inside to cool off” said the voice in my head.

Nope. I want to finish up this section.

“Your all drippy. Your biceps hurt. You should stop and go inside.”

Nope. I’m hot and sweaty but I can finish this section.

“Is that your back twinging? I think your back is hurting. You should stop and go inside.”

Yeah, and my neck hurts too but I’m ok.

“But you are hurting! you’re hot! you’re sweaty! this isn’t nice!”

Yeah, but I’m fine.

Earlier today a relative cautioned me about working in the yard. She loves me and doesn’t like me in pain. She was sincerely concerned about my hip and back. I’m touched and delighted that she cares however… her loving concern actually made me pause. Maybe I shouldn’t work in the yard today? It is kinda wet, I might slip and fall. What if I get stung? What if I pull something? It’s gonna be hot and muggy, I’ll sweat. I know I’m gonna get dirty. Ugh, I’ll get a rash from something. What.. what.. what…

Recently I had the stunning revelation that I’m afraid of getting hurt.  I was afraid to add more weight to the oly bar because I might hurt “something”. My ego? my depression? my back? my shoulder? chip a nail? I have no idea what that “something” was but I was feared for it’s safety. How fucked up is that??? I’m afraid of pushing myself. I was pretty clumsy as I kid and I think part of it was me pulling back at the last second because I was afraid.

I need my personal R. Lee Ermey to kick my ass and get me moving. I need to remember that I can pretty much heal or recover from anything.

So why are women conditioned to be afraid of getting hurt physically? When I Google women and fear lots of links are about emotional fear and ‘stranger danger’ type of fear. That’s not what I’m interested in today. I want to explore American Women and their Fear of Physical Pain. Men seems to grow from experiencing physical pain (ie: pulled a muscle during sports, hurt on the job, etc) but women seem to regress and be more vulnerable. They shy away from the very thing that hurt them instead of kicking it’s ass and making it their bitch. Is this instinctive? or is it a socially ingrained reaction?

Do we celebrate victimization? Empathy and understanding are absolutely appropriate but I wonder if we are being taught it is better that we are going to be a victim no matter what so just accept it rather than rally and learn to fight against it. This link at Fearofstuff.com is good example. Notice the people mentioned as having overcome, or used their fears, to produce masterpieces? Toulouse-Lautrec and George Orwell. Men.

Most of us grew up with “damsel in distress” fairy tales. Very few of them featured the damsel rescuing the knight or prince. Odd that we’re sending such mixed messages. Hey Charlie Girl! you can do anything! but don’t get hurt.

This study, The Power of Holding Hands, had women had hold hands with someone while experiencing electrical shocks. They experienced less fear while holding hands with a stranger or unknown person but if they held hands with a loved on they would calm down almost immediately. The authors go on to suggest they people should hold hands with their loved ones as much as possible. A lovely sentiment but it’s just another avoidance ploy!

We need to be teaching women to face physical pain head on, accept that it’s gonna happen, so pull up your big girl panties and deal with it.

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