Check-up for self-delusion

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It's unbelievable to me that everyone continues to watch football when we know that men are getting genuinely, permanently, brain damaged. The game is tantamount to cockfighting, only with people instead of animals.

The NFL has finally admitted the problem, to the extent it is poised to be the largest funding source for research about trauma to the brain. But still, the game encourages brain trauma. And people cheer.

I can understand if it's like smoking. You're addicted, you can't stop. But what about bringing your kids to the game? What about all the people who make the Superbowl a family TV event? Kids who play football in high school are more likely to die from that than drunk driving or guns. And parents encourage their kids to play this sport?

The culture of football amazes to me — the incredible level of denial. So what I’m thinking is that people are delusional. And they know it, but they keep going. They cultivate delusion.

That’s what I think of when I hear about the HBO documentary about Temple Grandin. She’s a total freak. This is why she's interesting. Because people love an underdog—people love seeing weirdness succeed because most people feel weird and they worry it's going to hold them back.

The problem is that a little weird is normal, but Temple is weird in a way that makes her a statistical improbability. Unlike Temple, most people with Asperger Syndrome are very smart but cannot hold down a job. Most Asperger people are living at the edge of poverty. They divorce at very high rates, and they are at high risk for depression and suicide.

Journalists who interact with Temple say that, on a personal level, she is absolutely impossible to deal with on a regular basis. This is not surprising. (Being difficult is what Asperger's is about, in a large way. Everyone tries to isolate themselves from things that drive them crazy. Someone with Asperger Syndrome just has a much longer list with a much lower threshold in the you-are-driving-me-crazy department.) So it’s lucky that she is an absolute genius in a field that has very little competition from people with good social skills. Most people with Asperger's, even if they are geniuses at, say, engineering (which is very common) get in trouble mid-career for lack of social skills.

I hate the glorification of abnormal. People who are abnormal have an enormous struggle to find a place in the world. It's not fun or glamorous. The celebration of abnormal is a delusional luxury of the relatively normal population.

More about the world of delusion: Time magazine reports that 78% women feel that media does not accurately represent women with kids.

Probably the most accurate representation of women is in the blogosphere. There is no filter here, no need to appeal to both Peoria and Pasadena all at once. But even the whole of the blogosphere does not represent the female experience particularly accurately.

Here's how I know: I compare the traffic for and

The Pioneer Woman is largely housewife porn. The men are hot and rugged, just like in a romance novel. The author, Ree Drummond, is running an operation similar to Rachel Ray or Martha Stewart, but she markets herself as a stay-at-home mom, and a homeschooler at that. The whole thing strikes me as totally preposterous. It's as impossible as Friends, where everyone had a pricey NYC apartment, and not-high-paying job. But regardless, The Pioneer Woman's traffic is absolutely through the roof, proving the appeal of preposterous escapism.

Dooce, on the other hand, is more gritty, and has about half the traffic of Pioneer Woman. On Dooce, Heather Armstrong blogs about depression, her kids being difficult, and her parents being Mormon. I love Heather Armstrong. But she's the gold standard for writing a blog about your life and keeping a marriage together, and she is not, actually, writing about the female experience for married women.

Here is the female experience for married women (from a survey from PayPal):

37% of arguments are about money

24% are about household chores

15% are about in-laws

13% are about sex

Heather does not write about any of these arguments, except, maybe, chores. So who is writing about these fights? Where is the blogger explaining how she got through these fights?

I think the truth is that women don't want to see themselves reflected back to them. Family life is messy right now. No one would aspire to have the life the baby boomer women had; people won't even use the word feminist any more. And Generation X women, after creating the first fertility crisis in history by putting off kids for work, realized that they'd rather be home with kids than work full-time. So Gen X doesn't want to look in the mirror. It's too painful. Gen Y looks ahead and has no role model that looks appealing.

At first I was going to tell you how everyone who watches football and Temple Grandin are delusional. But I guess I am, too, because I read Pioneer Woman and Dooce all the time. And I like it.

But mindfulness goes a long way. For example, if you carry a book on your head every day for ten minutes, you will actually have more self-discipline to do the stuff in your life that matters more than a book on your head. It might seem like just a funny example, but don't underestimate how hard it is to get yourself to keep a book on your head for ten minutes each day.

I think this works with facing reality, too. Maybe if we do it daily, in some aspect of our life, we get the temerity to implement that discipline in other parts of life as well. But we have to start somewhere in order to battle the magnetism of delusion.

It’s easy to call out other peoples’ delusions. It matters much more to call out our own.

147 replies
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  1. jen
    jen says:

    and then we have sarah palin mocking the president with hopey-changey. i want sandra day o’connor or doris kearns goodwin to blog about motherhood.

  2. Gary Arndt
    Gary Arndt says:

    You said: “Kids who play football in high school are more likely to die from that than drunk driving or guns. ”

    You are totally wrong. You are so wrong, you are wrong by more than a factor of 100. So wrong that you obviously didn’t even do a lick of research, you just pull that out of your ass.

    1) That link you used to show that more children die from football than from guns or drunk driving….says nothing about drunk driving or guns. It doesn’t say what you say it says.

    2) The number of high school deaths due to football has been less than 10 every year since 1976, save for 1986 which had 11. Moreover, the number of deaths has been decreasing as better equipment is being used.

    3) Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that 1,500 people between the age of 15 and 20 die each year from alcohol related car accidents, and 5,000 die from alcohol related effects in total.

    4) The Children’s Defense Fund reports that in 2006, 3,184 children and teens were killed from firearms. There were over 17,000 non-fatal injuries from firearms.

    I pull all this together in about 10 minutes of searching Google.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thank you for this research.

      But, though I am not the queen of math, I think I might be right on this one. I think that what we are talking about here is 10 deaths for a much smaller population (high school football players) than, say, the population of all children and teens, which is what your number four point is.


      • Brad
        Brad says:

        More than 1% of high school students play football, so your math still doesn’t work. And a lot of the high school football deaths are from idiot coach-induced heatstroke, rather than injuries on the field. Of course, a single death invalidates a whole sport if you consider that sport stupid and pointless.

        You can reduce billions of dollars in economic activity to delusional human cockfighting if you want. Good luck with that crusade. One day maybe we’ll have a Super Bowl for beach volleyball.

      • Ronald Hobbs
        Ronald Hobbs says:

        Hiya, Thought I’d weigh in with numbers:

        from the article:
        “… approximately one injury per every 150,000 athletes playing, or 7 catastrophic injuries yearly. .. 0.67 injuries per 100,000 …”

        from (obviously non-scientific and biased):
        “..5,000 teens ages 16 to 20 Die…400,000 drivers age 16 to 20 will be seriously injured … 19.4 killed per 100,000 male drivers…”

        The per 100k figures are the key here, I’m also only using the male figure since I’m guessing they’re more prone to football injuries:
        football – 0.67
        cars – 19.4 (and that’s deaths)
        cars ~ 1552 (serious injuries: deaths x 80)

        If I wanted to argue further for football I’d also point at the number of kids that don’t have health problems due to getting exercise, potential lives saved etc.

        But frankly the argument of prospect of injury / death is simply invalid when it comes to people:

        People always think that mundane causes of harm, e.g. cars, football, burglaries, murders, etc, are much less likely than they are.

        Similarly they think that sensationalised causes are much more likely than they are, e.g. terrorism, flying, earthquakes.

        People have bad preservation intuition in the modern world.

        Also, it’s a shame that your other points in this post is blanked over by people going “How can you not like football, you may as well not like apple pie, America, etc, etc”.

        I also find it very funny that you’ve fallen victim to your own statement at the end:
        “It’s easy to call out other peoples’ delusions. It matters much more to call out our own.”

        I eagerly await being called on my delusions, I have many.

      • Paul
        Paul says:

        Your comments about football show how ridiculously sheltered you are becoming there in Madison. You need to do a better job staying on the leading edge if you are gonna give advice to gen-whatever-you-call-it: MMA is the new thing. Do some research about that if you want to talk about potentially dangerous.

  3. Jess @OpenlyBalanced
    Jess @OpenlyBalanced says:

    I am not surprised people take their children to watch football in spite of the fact that it’s delusional. Our entire society is delusional right now. Our culture and our world view are only sustained through ignoring the consequences of our actions. Why would it be surprising that our individual actions and cultural pastimes reflect that same incredible level of denial?

    I agree with you that you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere has to be small. I think it would be fundamentally traumatic to try to face all of our personal and societal delusions at once. It’s why human aid workers and climate scientists are increasingly being diagnosed with depression. Even if you try to start small and manage disillusionment in bite size pieces, it can still get overwhelming.

    Great post, but I can’t help but be surprised that you’re surprised that we’re all living within carefully crafted and cultivated delusions.

  4. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    I agree about noone wanting to call themselves a feminist. There’s an article/blog in there somewhere – “Feminist – the other F-word” or “When did feminist become a dirty word?” For god’s sake, all it means is that you think everyone should be treated equally. Is that so scary?
    To put this in the context of your discussion about self-delusion…in the Western world, women who say ‘oh I’m not a feminist’, (while they take for granted advances that other women chained themselves to railings for)- are seriously deluded.
    Slogan of the day- “feminist is not a dirty word”.
    (Also, in our house the arguments about sex are much more than 13%!)

    • Kelli
      Kelli says:

      I feel like feminism is at a point where the actual meaning of being a ‘feminist’ is unclear. From the dictionary, a feminist is someone who believes that women should have equal opportunity to men (which I want to point out is different than saying “women are equal to men”). So taking the word at it’s literal meaning, it would be silly to say you are not a feminist and really kind of silly to need to bring it up in the first place. It would be like discussing racism as though being racist were a socially-acceptable choice. The issue is that people ascribe different meanings to feminism, and possibly also that some people cling to the belief in sexism. Like racism, it exists. But it is sometimes discussed in a way that makes it seem like the fight is the same as it was at the beginning. Additionally, newer waves of feminism (post-feminism, etc.) have further convaluted what it means to be a feminist (again, taking the word at it’s base definition). This is where I think the distaste for the word feminism comes in.

    • John Wilder
      John Wilder says:

      I can help you stop fighting about sex. If you truly believe that all people should be treated equally, give your husband sex every other night. That means that you have a night off and the next night he has a night on. This is equality. Of course feminsts teach that women should only have sex when they feel like it.
      Studies show that 60% of married women with children have their husbands on a staravation diet of sex once a week or LESS! How is that equality? Everyone would agree with the notion that no woman should be forced to have sex against her will and yet most women have no qualms about forcing her husband to do WITHOUT sex AGAINST HIS WILL. When you force your husband to masturbate alone, you build resentment in him that over the years takes its toll and causes men to cheat.

      I am a marriage, relationship and sexual coach. I have a book that is soon finished. I teach couples how not to argue but to peacefully resolve their conflicts. I have a chapter excerpt published on the web. You can find it by googling my email address and read it for free.

      • Rachel
        Rachel says:

        John, is it your belief as a marriage and relationship coach that sex is something that women do for their husbands? I’m sure you aren’t selling such a caveman notion, but your comment reads like you believe sex is a duty women perform without any enjoyment for themselves.

        I don’t really understand how women cause their husbands to cheat by not having enough sex. That is just an excuse. No one “causes” another person to do anything. Male or female, we are all responsible for our own actions – unless you are suggesting that men can’t control their penises. If that is true, then every person accused of rape could plead insanity. Insaneness of the dick.

        Here is an idea: Check out Penelope’s posts on oral sex. Suggest to your male clients they should give more oral sex to their wives. If they focus on giving her lots of orgasms and making her happy, women will have more sex.

      • Amanda
        Amanda says:

        Wow. John, that is so breathtakingly delusional, I am torn between applauding the untintentional satire and attempting to chip away glacier-sized flaws in your line of thinking.

        Men and women EACH want sex. Sometimes the husband doesn’t want it when the wife wants it, and vice versa. The fact that you think women only have sex when they lay there and let their husbands do them, is highly disturbing, and sadly revealing. I hope you’re not married.

        “Everyone would agree with the notion that no woman should be forced to have sex against her will and yet most women have no qualms about forcing her husband to do WITHOUT sex AGAINST HIS WILL.”

        Actually, you DON’T agree to that notion at all. You think women are obligated to submit whenever the man wants. Which means you believe that women’s bodies are objects that can be owned by men and utilized for their pleasure only.

        Please do the world a favor and dispense with the “advice”-giving.

      • John Wilder
        John Wilder says:

        Of course women want sex as well. I am also the first to admit that many guys are lousy in the sack. It is for this reason that I am writing my book. I have a lot of women clients telling me how lousy most men are in bed. I teach extensively on how to have a fantastic sex life and teach men some great techniquse. If you doubt this, google my email address and see some of the chapter excerpts on sexual techniques for men.

        I was addressing the notion of equality which you have not addressed but instead have chosen to hit me with ad hominem attacks. This is what happens so often when a man critiques a woman. Most women don’t make it safe for a man to tell her the truth becuase of the vicious attacks against him when he does.

        If you look up in the dictionary the word unfaithful, you will note that it does not just talk aobut cheaing spouses, it also talks about failure to honor vows that you made about him having and holding you (euphemism for sex)

      • John Wilder
        John Wilder says:

        Rachel, I get my authority from the Bible which is all about equality. It states in I Corinthians 7 that the woman has to give her husband sex whenever he wants it and the man has to give the woman sex anyhtime that she wants it. You can tell God he is stupid and sexist and that he made a mistake.

        Again, I am talking about equality where the couples take turns having a night on and a night off. Instead you have proven my point that you want more than equality, you want ABSOLUTE DOMINANCE. Thank you for so brilliantly illustrating my point. Dr Laura Schlesinger also states the same thing in her books. I guess that she is stupid and sexist as well. She repeatedly chides women for not taking care of their husbands sexual needs.

      • John Wilder
        John Wilder says:

        Actually I commented on Penelope’s post on women getting more oral sex. I stated at the time that men give more oral sex than they get. There is no equlity in that either. I have had numerous partners that I have given numerous orgasms in one session bu they refused to return the favor. This is als a comment that I get from a lot of male clients. Women again treat men as if they are nasty and disgusting and state that they won’t perform oral sex on a guy, they won’t let him come in her mouth or won’t swallow. The taste of a woman’s vaginal secretions and a man’s semen is remarkably similar. Again google my articles entitled Be a Hero in The Bedroom and then come back and tell me how I am wrong. There are 3 articles, foreplay, sexual techniques, and post play all with the tag line be a hero in the bedroom. I will expect an apology after reading my stuff.

  5. Sven
    Sven says:

    Really beautiful observation. I like how you found your own way of delusional thinking in the end.

    I got my own delusions which I don’t have the balls to share here. So you get my fullest respect, Penelope!

    Also, excellent advice at the end… Let’s all face reality for ten minutes a day… and let that experience grow over time. Yes, it’s utopian, but hey, we all gotta start somewhere, right?

  6. Karen
    Karen says:

    I watched the Temple Grandin movie this weekend, because I have read all of her books and was interested to see how one of my favorite channels, HBO, would portray her.

    I enjoyed the movie, but like you said, it was hard to overlook the underdog mentality of the story. I think her books do her much more justice (as they usually do), because her brilliance is amplified with the written word. Your comments about the glorification of abnormal are interesting, although I have to admit that I always find myself gravitating towards it because I find defects and diversions from the norm fascinating. Maybe it’s because it makes me feel more normal.

  7. MichaelG
    MichaelG says:

    Where do you get the statistic that more kids die from football than drunk driving or guns? The article you linked states:

    The researchers found that there is approximately one injury per every 150,000 athletes playing, or 7 catastrophic injuries yearly.

    I don’t know the numbers for drunk driving or guns, but they have to be higher than 7 per year.

    On the celebration-of-autism topic, we celebrate all kinds of unusual achievers (even football players) because we’re a nation of individualists (or like to think we are.) Would you prefer that we dismiss all the high achievers as freaks? Or just continue to pity them all, no matter how much they accomplish in life? I’m disabled, and can’t stand that attitude.

    On Dooce, she was fun back when she wrote more acerbic pieces about work and life. Now it’s all about her kids, and dull as dirt.

    About the arguments — could it be possible that there are real differences between the sexes that cause these arguments? Not just men being dolts?

    37% of arguments are about money
    Different spending patterns cause these fights. Different levels of need for security vs. instant gratification. Most men I know seem to have confidence that one way or another, they will support themselves. And if they can’t buy more toys, then they will do without. Most women don’t seem to feel this way, and they get more security-oriented as they age.

    24% are about household chores
    Men have a much higher tolerance for mess, in my experience. They would be happy if the woman did less chores too, and the place were not as neat.

    15% are about in-laws
    Women are stereotypically more relationship oriented, and hesitant to cut off in-laws when they become pests. A thick skin and willingness to hang up the phone or not invite the relatives are more stereotypically male.

    13% are about sex
    Again, there are probably some real differences in goals here.

    A lot of topics in this one post. I’m not sure they tie together well.

  8. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    Holy shit – I have been talking about brain injury related to football all week. Because I played for one of the best women’s tackle teams in the country.

    I love the game – there is no game like it. The rush is amazing. The bond you form with teammates in football is different than any other sport (I know because I have played most other sports).

    But I’m not going to play anymore. This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. Personally, I have not had a concussion playing tackle football. I have had 3 playing tag or flag football (in high school and college) – so I know what they feel like.

    But I can’t ignore the brain risk. More studies are being done on NFL players brains after they die: There are also studies about increased rates of depression due to brain injury:

    Men that make it to the NFL have a lot of years of hitting behind them. They start in pee-wee and play through high school and college before reaching the NFL.

    Besides the number of years they play, equipment is also an issue – I bought the best helmet money could buy when I started playing in 2007. That is not the same helmet they are giving kids in pee-wee while their brain is still forming. That is also not the same helmet that people used 10 years ago – even the best pros. Advances are made on brain protection every year. My helmet (and specially designed mouth piece)was the reason I didn’t have a concussion. That brings me to another point, people think that mouth pieces are for tooth and mouth protection. They are used to prevent concussions and brain injury.

    Besides not getting the best equipment, while in pee-wee and the other beginning stages kids don’t always get the best coaching. Its dads telling their kids to play the same way they were told to play when they were little. For example, you should never hit leading with the top of your head – something that until recently people were taught to do (I’m sure some are still taught that way). They would use the top of their helmets as battering rams. The safer way is to lead with your face mask. I’m not sure how many young boys learn to hit in the correct way.

    Despite having the proper equipment and hitting technique, I’m still not playing. I talked to one of my teammates last week that can’t play anymore because of a knee injury. But more scary, after 9 years of playing tackle football, she is noticing that she has memory loss and her brain is more fuzzy than it used to be. To be honest though, she led with her head all the time and I think used the same helmet her whole career (they should be replaced or reconditioned at least every 2 years). She also drinks a lot. But still, its a risk I’m not taking.

    Like I said, not playing was a really hard decision. Not many women have a legitimate shot at a super bowl ring (our version of one). And it breaks my heart to give it up. Because I have never loved a sport more – this is harder and more emotional for me than any relationship breakup. Which is a delusional statement in itself.

    I do feel guilty watching and supporting a sport that I have deemed to dangerous to play. Your right – we are delusional.

  9. Jose
    Jose says:

    If we boycott every “dangerous” sport, won’t we risk having other health problems like diabetes or heart disease? Without skiing or soccer or any number of contact sports, wouldn’t the longer-term health statistics be even worse? It seems like you are falling in line with the media hype on the brain damage issue when there are tremendous upsides to being active in ‘dangerous’ sports. The rewards – like the development of a physical fitness education, friendships, and discipline – can last a lifetime…whereas a football career for probably 99% of participants lasts far less than a decade.

    My point is, look at all the benefits next time you spot a “delusion”.

    And I think even though you normalize your numbers in the comments section, that the comparison is still criminal. You level football with drunk driving and shootings when football has countless benefits.

    (Note: I’m don’t think I’m being overly sensitive to football…i never even played)

  10. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I posted a comment and it disappeared, so I am going to try to reconstruct it:

    The studies that are being done NFL players brains via autopsies after they die are disturbing. More and more NFL players are donating their brains to be studied after they die.

    There is also a link to increased depression in NFL players due to brain injury:

    I played pro football (very unusual for a woman). There is a pro womens league ( I played for one of the best teams in the country, took last year off and fully intended to play this year, until very recently. Part of that decision stems from the brain injury risk.

    Technique, years played, and equipment have a lot to do with brain injury while playing.

    Years played:
    To make it to the NFL or even college – a young man probably started playing when he was 8. So if you say that he played 10 or so years before college and 4 in college. That is 14 years of hitting prior to the NFL.

    When my dad and uncles started playing football they were taught to use their heads as battering rams. That is not what I was taught. I was taught that is a very quick way to become paralyzed. But I don’t think at the pee-wee levels kids have the best coaching and they are probably still taught to use their heads as battering rams. I was taught to hit by a man with 14 years of playing experience and 20 years coaching in the high school and college level – I was taught to lead with my face mask (much safer). Most young boys are taught by their dads or one of their friend’s dads. These dads probably coach like they were taught – lead with their battering ram heads. While 8 year olds might not hit that hard – that is a really bad habit. And I believe it only takes 15 pounds of pressure to break the neck with the top of your head.

    I’m sure there are really good coaches for young players; I am also sure there are some pretty bad ones.

    When I started playing tackle in 2007, I bought the best helmet money could buy at that time. And the best mouthpiece (mouthpieces prevent concussions and brain damage). I never had a concussion playing tackle. I had 3 playing flag football in high school and college so I know what they feel like. I also know that if I did get one playing tackle – I would hide it if possible. I have hid serious injuries before – I hid 2 of my 3 very effectively. Which is a very DUMB thing to do. Getting a concussion while still suffering from another one is the most dangerous thing.

    But I know players that laugh about concussions and go back on the field.

    Most people that play competitive sports are uber competitive. And in the heat of the moment of a game, they don’t think rationally. I was so out of it after a concussion I ended up in the other teams huddle. But I still hid my concussion from my coach – in an intramural game in college. That didn’t matter. And could have caused me a lot of damage. Who knows, maybe it did and I don’t know it yet.

    When a kid starts playing – and even in high school – they don’t have the best equipment. The equipment is crucial and advances are made in the technology every year. But most school systems can’t afford new technology every year. And there are hand me downs. And if a player’s parents are buying their equipment – they might not spring for the $400 or $500 helmet.

    Despite having the right equipment and technique, I’m not playing. The nail in the coffin wasn’t the NFL studies – it was a teammate of mine who after playing 9 years of tackle football is having memory problems.

    Football is my favorite sport. I have a bond with it and my team that is stronger than any bond I have had in a romantic relationship. My teammates agree with that statement, as do many guys I know that played through college.

    To say this decision has been hard is like saying oceans are big – it doesn’t even scratch the surface of how hard this is. I have never had so much trouble getting over a relationship, as I am getting over not playing football. A year ago, I decided to take a year off and I dreamt about football every night until I made the decision to go back. Now I have decided again to not play.

    Not many women have a legitimate chance to win a super bowl ring (our version of it) – and knowing that I have that opportunity to help build a league for women who haven’t ever had this chance – and I’m just throwing it away makes me cringe. It makes my chest tight. It also makes me feel guilty that I want to build something that could hurt people. I feel guilty for watching and supporting a sport that I deemed too dangerous to play myself. I feel guilty doing PR for my team. I feel guilty when they are practicing and I am not there.

    Clearly, I am delusional about it. Its a game. But it has come to mean so much more to me – its family.

    Penelope, I think you are right. We are delusional about football.

  11. farouk
    farouk says:

    yes i understand what you are talking about,i understand self discipline can be developed by training by only if the person wanted to

  12. Forest
    Forest says:

    I’m so thankful for the fact that people are allowed their own voice via blogging (in most countries). It’s really cool to read people’s real opinions away from the control of the mass media….. Women’s rights and all rights have taken a huge leap forward since blogging became an accepted platform.

  13. malcontent7
    malcontent7 says:

    I think the main delusion most of us live with is “I will only stay in this job until I get ahead a little, then I will find something I love to do” unfortunately life has momentum and once you get ahead and start making decent money it becomes harder to leave a job not easier. Before you know it you don’t look at changing careers as leaving a job you don’t like but rather having to start over which no one really wants to do. The delusion then says this job isn’t really that bad and on it goes…

    • NamesAreHardToPick
      NamesAreHardToPick says:

      Or the delusion that you should “do something you love.” Maybe always trying to be happy leads straight to a place where happiness loses all meaning. Perhaps some balance – doing something you don’t necessarily love and doing something you absolutely love – will create a more fulfilled existence. But then, fulfillment and happiness aren’t the same, and even Webster’s understands this.

  14. Jen
    Jen says:

    Same thing with smoking. I work near a large specialist cancer hospital. Two regular sights at the local coffee shop: (i) cancer patients with their bald heads, scarves and drips on trolleys; (ii) staff of the hospital – and other customers who work nearby – smoking. And don’t get me started on doctors who smoke.
    I wouldn’t mind if someone invented a big bag that smokers put on their heads, so all the smoke stays inside,they get oxygen so they can breathe, but I don’t have to passive smoke. Peh.

    As for delusion… sometimes it’s better than reality. What am I saying? Most times, it’s better than reality. I don’t let myself indulge much, and I prefer to face the truth. But life is crap quite a bit of the time.

    And tell me about representations of women. There aren’t many blogs written by single women (ie not married, not in de facto or ongoing partnerships, not living with their BF). Single women just talking about living single and making a good life out of it. Every f-ing decor blog, design blog, craft blog, career blog I read is written by and/or mostly about women who are partnered. It’s ‘we’ this and ‘we’ that. I’d like to have a partner but that doesn’t seem to be how my life is working out. I don’t have children. I feel invisible.

    Back to fantasyland for me. Can I bring you back a snow dome?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s a really interesting observation about women bloggers. Do other women feel this way? That single women are underrepresented in the blogosphere?

      Something that makes me think Jen is right: Advertisers are having a really hard time getting to single women in their twenties online. I hear that all the time. Of course, women in their 20s do a lot online, but there are few blogs that attract this particular audience and no one else. Whereas there are many blogs that attract nearly 100% women who are parenting school-aged kids.


      • Becca
        Becca says:

        I am a single woman blogger. I don’t read Mommy blogs unless you count Pioneer Woman’s recipe blog and that’s about food for the most part. The “married with children” aspect is mostly incidental.

        And I know that Gen Y is your thing but Jen’s comment never mentioned age and yet somehow single and unpartnered meant twentysomething to you. Not all of us are. But I also don’t see it as you do. My blog isn’t about attracting any kind of audience in particular and I don’t accept advertising.

        I just did a cursory check of my feed reader, which has about 170 blogs and newspapers on it. I don’t really read decor or crafts, but there are lots of food blogs. Most are multi-writer and have no special voice but the ones that are female authored are about 2 to 1 in favor of married or partnered women. There are also a lot of tech blogs which are mostly multi-writer and male.

        Unlike Jen, I don’t really think it’s all that important on a topical blog if the author talks about their spouse or kids. We all cook and we all decorate… I don’t need to be on the same page as the blogger in every way. But if the topic is the blogger’s life and views, it matters much more to me. Of the “personal” blogs on my feed list, almost all are by single women. In fact, the only married women personal blogs I read are written by my friends and that’s because I want to keep up with them.

        It’s hard to know objectively how well-represented single women of any age are in the blogosphere. Maybe BlogHer would have a better idea. I just know that there are tons of smart and funny single women bloggers out there and I’ve had no trouble finding them.

      • DShan
        DShan says:

        This was the foundation of 20 Something Bloggers. We have thousands of single women bloggers; single twenty-somethings is one of our largest interest groups. The whole community was started as a reaction to the fact that not everyone is married and having children.

        I don’t mean that to be a plug as much as a note that EVERYONE is blogging; it’s a matter of building communities to represent specific interests. Women are being represented…that Dooce and Ree are at the top of the food chain is just a reflection of the fact that Mommy Blogging was integral in the second explosion of blogging in this country. My personal belief is that the next explosion will be reflective of a much younger demographic writing the most compelling content; young decision makers living a far different life than their parents. Who’s the next pillar of that movement? I could guess, but I’d probably be wrong.

      • Jacqueline
        Jacqueline says:

        I’m a single (never married), early-retired (at 44) parent of two – truly an anomaly in the blog world.

        Single parents in particular are under-represented, particularly in my age group and area of interest (frugality, finances, etc.) and all finance blogs I read are written by men – whose wives are still working to partially support the blogging hubby I imagine.

        I’m not sure if many women who have to work lack the time a blog requires, the willingness to put themselves out there and be a contrarian or the commitment / belief in themselves – good questions to ponder.

      • Shefaly
        Shefaly says:

        It really depends on what a woman blogger is writing about. If the writing is about economics or business or science, her relationship status is immaterial and none-of-anybody’s-business.

        Probably you should ask why women, who write about non-personal topics, are under-represented in the “blogosphere”. And even more, why, when a woman does and happens to have a name that is not a commonly known name, the readers assume she must be a guy. (It happens to me all the time; I never correct the assumption; it is totally hilarious and anthropologically enlightening to see how people make assumptions and judge the worth of a blogger based on that shot in the dark!)

      • Bonnie
        Bonnie says:

        First I’d like to point out that Dooce started her blog when she was single, and she first attracted attention for getting fired because of her blog, not anything marriage or child-related.

        There are thousands of blogs by and about dating and single life! Crazy Aunt Purl comes to mind. Stephanie Klein of Greek Tragedy got a very lucrative book and TV deal a few years ago while she wrote a bog all about her single life. (NOW she is married, but she got fame and $ before all that). Heather (last name escapes me), who writes This Fish has been blogging for years about single life, and her blog can now be found on iVillage, I believe under that very category! Emily Gould, of Gawker and New York Times magazine infamy blogged about her dating and single life, and those were exactly the posts that led to her book deal.

        There’s a NYC blogger with the initials JA (if you know, you know) trying to parlay her blog into a company. She’s gotten a lot of negative attention online and in NYC media circles, and she’s been blogging for years about being a single woman. And she’s written about how her blogging has ruined a few relationships…

        I could literally go on all night.

        Most women do couple up and or have children at some point in their lives. So it is natural that a similar percentage of female personal bloggers would at some point, write about life with a partner or children. (FYI, I am a single woman, with no children and no plans on having any, and I blog, though rarely about my personal life.)

        Penelope, I also wanted to respond to some of your comments about the bloggers in the original post. I don’t think that the lack of blogging about marital fighting or daily bickering is at all indicative of a generation not wanting to see an accurate reflection. I think it is largely common sense.

        Both the bloggers you mention have written specifically about the fact that they made agreements with their husbands about what is fair game for the public to read, and it seems that both bloggers consider those private agreements and policies to be part of a strong marriage.

        One of the single/dating bloggers I mentioned above wrote once about a fight that led to the eventual breakup with a boyfriend; they argued over her quoting remarks he to her made in private on her blog.

        And there’s a certain other blog I read and very much enjoy. It’s by a female blogger, and though it is about career advice, she also blogged about her life as a single mom, and about some of her dating life. In fact, she also wrote that she too has to navigate what is ok and not ok to post, now that she has found a partner…

        (hint: you!)

      • Bonnie
        Bonnie says:

        Oh, I also wanted to add that different types of bloggers come in and out of vogue. Say five years ago, there were a bunch of print articles about single women blogging (Carrie Bradshaw comparisons, etc.). Since then, mommy bloggers have been more of hot topic, and there is a very specific reason for this. Companies have developed a marketing interest in bloggers and mommy bloggers are prime targets because they often control a household of purchasing. A single woman buys for herself; a “mommy” buys for herself, her children, and often her partner.

        So there have been a number of high-profile pieces written about the mommy bloggers who receive tons of shwag and advertising revenue.

  15. Caf
    Caf says:

    I suffer from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome which makes me kind of ‘abnormal’. I quickly learnt that many people are so happy with their delusions that they’d rather not hear about the bad stuff. They’d rather dramatise insignificant things than think about real problems that aren’t their own. This used to upset me but after years in pain I can completely understand, sometimes I wish I could go back in the bubble! Only sometimes, one of the only advantages of CRPS is that suffering opens your eyes whether you like it or not. I’d rather be looking at the world with my eyes all the way open than through a squint. Blogging is a fabulous medium for me because I can share my story and only those who are interested read and respond. I rarely blog about fights with my partner out of respect to him, not because they never happen. We rarely argue but when we do, we always have plenty of reality here to put it in perspective. Gotta laugh – being abnormal even makes it hard to comment in a normal fashion! Relationship stories are interesting, but I’m not surprised there aren’t a lot of people writing them down publicly. It’s a fairly intimate thing to share, so unless
    both partners are the blogging type, sharing could just lead to more problems.

  16. le @whoop whoop
    le @whoop whoop says:

    hello Ms P … loved this post – very much .. initally a great hook with the poo pooing of the all american league – I have never ‘got’ football … I will always recall my father putting my two brothers into english football soccer as the other codes were too violent for his taste.

    And the real women gen xers blogging – I have found a few .. this is one of the most real

    but I want two things from my blogging time – a sense of connection and some entertainment value – you give both – like a professional – opps you are a professional – in the nicest sense of the word … It’s a compliment.

    I don’t know of Temple … I will click back soon ..

    Bet your comment numbers will rock thru the roof as all the football nutters come out in defense of the game … you are a star – best le

  17. le @whoop whoop
    le @whoop whoop says:

    hello Ms P … love love love this post … firstly the swipe at the all american institution – what a great hook !

    Then the gen x women thing … I have found some real women blogging … one of the best

    I spend time on blogs when two things happen … 1) a sense of connection 2) entertainment value

    You do both on a regular basis – a consumate professional – this is a compliment – thanks as always, Le

  18. Alex @ Happiness in this World
    Alex @ Happiness in this World says:

    What about boxing? My kid will never play football (oh, boy, now I’ve said it and I’m going to be exactly wrong – he’s going to beg to play), but we’ve been watching boxing even longer than football. You want to talk about a barbaric sport…

    People talk about beliefs as if they’re the easiest things in the world to change – you just need to decide to stop believing them, right? – when in fact the exact opposite is true. And the delusional ones (whether the ones we know about or the ones we don’t) that populate our thinking are the true cause of suffering in every circumstance in which we find ourselves suffering. So we’re faced with a circumstance in which the one thing we need to do to become happier is literally the hardest thing in the world. No wonder so many of us are so unhappy. For example:

  19. Alex @ Happiness in this World
    Alex @ Happiness in this World says:

    What about boxing? My kid will never play football (Oh, now I’ve done it – he’ll probably beg to play now…), but we’ve been watching boxing even longer. Talk about a barbaric sport.

    People talk about changing beliefs like they change underwear: just take one pair off and put another pair on – it’s easy, right? In reality the exact opposite is true. Delusions that populate our thinking are the true cause of suffering in every circumstance in which we suffer. So we’re faced with a situation in which the thing we most need to do, reform our deluded thinking in order to become happier is in fact literally the hardest thing in the world. No wonder so many of us are so unhappy. For example, cigarette smoking is caused by a delusion.

  20. Michael
    Michael says:

    Obviously you don’t like football but thanks for opening my eyes to think about it. Why do I love it so much, why does my mother for that matter?

    Makes me think of that movie “Gamer” that you should check out. It has some sexy guy in it that my wife likes and she does not like football or violent movies but hung around while I recorded it.

    I see the world heading in the direction of that movie or droids playing football which would require a handler, mechanic, technician a pickup truck instead of an ambulance.

    A droid would not have that human emotion or imperfection that makes the game so exciting because as perfect physical specimens as these professionally trained player are they throw that interception that screws up the most logically thinking mind causing over compensation no matter how much practice and repetition.

    It’s a game.

    • John Wilder
      John Wilder says:

      Hey Michael and Cathy:
      I read the link to the Dallas Morning News. It was published two months ago and had only ONE COMMENT! I offered a second one and I have pasted it in here for the purpose of discussion.


      It is appalling what feminists and feminist counselors tell couples about sex. They say that women should only have sex when they feel like it and disregard their husband’s feelings. The feminists would say that a woman should not allow herself to be a “sexual slave” to her husband. There are even some feminists claiming that any married sex amounts to rape. This is not conducive to resolving sexual conflicts in a marriage relationship.

      Feminists and feminist marriage counselors tell women and men that women should only have sex when they feel like it and to disregard men’s needs. This message has become common in mainstream marriage counseling. In all sincerity, is this not the ultimate in self centeredness? Is not love defined as putting the needs of your partner above your own. It is widely reported in studies published in women’s magazines that about 60% of the married couples out there have sex about once a week. For most husbands that is tantamount to a starvation diet of sex once a week or less.

      Typically the woman gives her husband sex on Saturday night. The idea being, that she is now rested and relaxed enough to engage in sex, knowing that it is not a work night for her. Would any woman support giving kids a hug only once a week on Saturday night. Imagine when a child is feeling bad or sad and comes to mom for a hug and she says; “now you know that I only give hugs once a week on Saturday night.” Of course that notion is ridiculous and yet the feminists support the notion of doing it to their husbands. It is a logical and factual inconsistency and a continuing example of dominance demanded by the feminists. In what way does that resolve the issue of frequency in a marriage?

      Most feminists are liars! That of course is an inflammatory statement. Before you dismiss that claim, allow yourself to read the ongoing evidence in this chapter with an open mind. At the end of the chapter, you must decide for yourself the veracity of that statement.

      Feminists claim to desire equality. They don’t want equality, they want ABSOLUTE DOMINANCE. If feminists truly wanted equality, that would include equality for men as well. Equality after all means that both men and women are equal and should receive equal treatment. Do men get equal treatment? Well the feminists claim that women should only have sex when they feel like it. If men and women were truly equal in a relationship, men would have the opportunity to have sex with their wives on one night, and the women would have the opportunity to not have sex on the next night. If men were equal, then the wives would be giving their husbands sex 3-4 times a week. If that were the case, then we would not be arguing about sex. After all, sex is one of THE BIG THREE that couples argue about. There is nothing equal in demanding the right for women to refuse sex to their husbands any time that they want to. After all, isn’t the ultimate definition of equality is sharing equally? Is not the definition of love putting your partner’s needs above your own? Would any woman support the notion that a husband should only be allowed to eat when his wife feels like allowing him to eat?

      If you reduce that demand to its logical consequences, it reduces men as nothing more than stud service on demand. The man does not get sexual satisfaction when he wants it. He has to wait until the wife is in the mood and willing whenever that might happen. Far too many men have complained not only in counseling but in letters to Ann Landers and Dear Abby, that they suffer from frequency of once or twice a month. Other men have complained about not getting sex literally in years. Explain how anyone can justify that as equality?

      Remember that back in the 80’s women sportswriters sued the NFL because they were not allowed in the men’s locker rooms. They claimed that they were being unfairly discriminated against. The men’s right to privacy was completely abdicated and the women have been in the locker rooms ever since with naked men running around. The feminists argued that the right to privacy allowed them to kill their unborn children, but they did not see irony in denying a man to his right to privacy in the locker room. Now if there were equality, would it not stand to reason that male sportswriters should be allowed in women’s locker rooms? Do you see men sportswriters in women’s tennis player’s locker rooms? Of course not. Do you see men allowed in the locker rooms of women volleyball players? Of course not. Do we see men sportswriters in the locker rooms of women golfers? Of course not. I ask you, are we practicing equality? We are practicing reverse sexism and dominance on the part of women.

      Women have successfully sued to join men’s clubs and golf clubs. Do we see women’s clubs opening up their clubs for male members? Of course not, we are seeing dominance and reverse sexism.

      Women have successfully sued to have women allowed to attend all boy’s academies and colleges. Yet when an all girl’s school officials decided to open enrollment to men because of declining enrollments, we saw televised pictures of weeping women tearing out their hair and screaming and throwing themselves on the ground. Pleasefeminists don’t want equality, they want dominance. Their behavior and attitudes portray nothing but that.

      In the city of Saint Paul , Minnesota , women successfully sued the Fire Department claiming that the physical testing requirements were designed to keep women out of the firefighter’s department. What the physical requirements were designed to do is to weed out weak men. After all, for example, a firefighter is called upon to pick up a 200lb unconscious man in a fireman’s carry and run down a flight of stairs so as to save his life. The requirements were watered down to satisfy the successful lawsuit where two female firefighters can now drag that same 200lb man down the flight of stairs. Now you have 3 people whose lives are at stake. What about the injuries incurred by the unconscious man as he is being unceremoniously dragged down the steps? Now we have two women taking the place of one man. What happened to equality? Feminists scream about equal pay for equal work and yet the two firefighters taking the place of one firefighter will get the same pay for half of the work. Is this equality? No, it is dominance and reverse sexism. Suppose a woman comes home and finds out that her house is on fire and her husband is trapped inside unconscious from smoke inhalation on the second floor bedroom. What emotions would go through a wife’s mind as she saw two female firefighters going in to get him out? How would she feel watching them dragging her husband down the flight of steps, his body and head banging on the steps on the way down? Would she not rather have a big strong man throw her husband over his shoulder and run down that flight of steps? According to the feminists, that woman would be guilty of sexism if she had wished it was a man carrying her husband or adult son down the steps. Is it worth risking his life in order to have social engineering? These are the kinds of attitudes and ideas foisted upon the public that causes men to have tremendous resentment towards women. Truly the battle of the sexes has not improved but gotten more entrenched. More and more we have a liberal court practicing political correctness and giving to the feminist’s dominance rather than equality.

      If a woman gets pregnant, she can saddle the man for child support for up to 22 years. If the man does not pay, he can be jailed, have his driver’s license revoked, his salary garnisheed, his tax refund’s seized, etc. If the woman does not give the man court ordered visitation the courts do nothing to the offending mother. Is this equality? No, it is dominance.

      If a woman gets pregnant, she can decide on her own to kill the baby in her womb. The father has absolutely no say so or any rights to the child. Is this equality? It is dominance.

      If a woman gets pregnant and wants to keep the child and she is hit by a car, then she can have the driver charged with vehicular homicide if the baby is killed in the accident. Is this equality? No, it is not only dominance, it is playing God. It is a baby if she decides it is for lawsuit purposes, but not a baby if she chooses to kill it through abortion.

      If a woman gets pregnant, she can go right to term and have the baby delivered feet first in the breech position. The whole body is delivered, but the head is still in the birth canal. The physician stabs the baby in the skull and sucks its brains out and collapses the skull and delivers a dead baby. Is this murder, no, it is legal abortion. If anyone kills the baby after the head slips out, then it is murder, but as long as the head is still in the birth canal, then it is considered legal abortion. Is this equality? No, it is not only dominance but legalized infanticide. What about the baby’s equal rights as guaranteed in our Bill of Rights. The first right in the Bill of Rights is the right to life. This is dominance personified.

      We are seeing gross reverse sexism called misandry in the TV commercials. Men are portrayed as hapless boobs where the heroic woman sweeps in to save the day.

      Another example for example is a guy trying to do the family’s taxes using a software program; the wife comes in to ask him questions in a condescending tone. When he admits to having a problem she verbally belittles him in a very insulting and condescending manner. Women would not stand for that kind of attitude but it is okay to insult and belittle men. More importantly they encourage that behavior on the part of women. That is not equality but absolute dominance.

      The definition of Misandry, from Wikipedia Misandry (pronounced /msndri/ ) is hatred (or contempt) of men or boys. It is parallel to misogyny , the hatred of women. Misandry () comes from Greek misos ( , “hatred”) and anr , andros ( , ; “man”). Misandry is also comparable with misanthropy which is the hatred of humanity in general.

      Wendy McElroy , an individualist feminist and Fox News commentator, argues that some feminists “have redefined the view of the movement of the opposite sex” as “a hot anger toward men seems to have turned into a cold hatred.” She argues that men as a class are considered ireformable, all men are considered rapists , and marriage, rape and prostitution are seen as the same.r McElroy states “a new ideology has come to the forefront… radical or gender, feminism”, one that has “joined hands with [the] political correctness movement that condemns the panorama of western civilization as sexist and racist: the product of ‘ dead white males .’ Conservative pundit Charlotte Hays argues “that the anti-male philosophy of radical feminism has filtered into the culture at large is incontestable; indeed, this attitude has become so pervasive that we hardly notice it any longer.” Analogies to other forms of bigotry Masculist writer and frequent speaker at the Cato Institute Warren Farrell compares dehumanizing stereotyping of men to dehumanization of the Vietnamese people as ” gooks .” In the past quarter century, we exposed biases against other races and called it racism , and we exposed biases against women and called it sexism. Biases against men we call humor.

      – Warren Farrell, Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t Say Religious Studies professors Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young make similar comparisons in their three-book series Beyond the Fall of Man, which treats misandry as a form of prejudice and discrimination that has become institutionalized in North American society. Nathanson and Young credit “ideological feminism” for imposing misandry on culture. Their book Spreading Misandry (2001) analyzes ” pop cultural artifacts and productions from the 1990s” from movies to greeting cards for what they consider contains pervasive messages of hatred toward men. Legalizing Misandry (2005) the second in the series, gives similar attention to laws in North America .

      Feminism is clearly not supported in mainstream society. One need only look at Ms. Magazine for proof. They were founded in 1972 and after all of these years, their circulation nationwide is a mere 150,000 according to their own statement. There is so little editorial content of any consequence that they only publish quarterly. For years, the only way that the magazine has survived is on subscriptions alone. They can’t get any advertisers to buy adds in the magazine. Ad sales indicate the viability of any magazine. In spite of this mere pittance of a magazine, they claim a FEMINIST MAJORITY. It is clearly not so, in fact but a false PR slogan. Every election, feminists are out claiming Funds for a Feminist Majority.

      You can find Ms. Magazine in a tool for writers entitled: WRITER’S MARKET. The next magazine following the Ms. Listing entitled: REDBOOK shows a circulation of 2,500,000. Can you see the difference in the circulation of a monthly magazine compared to the quarterly magazine of MS. Interestingly enough, Redbook has extensive articles every month about women’s sex lives. You can read it for yourself, they don’t follow Ms’. notions about sex.

      Feminists claim equality and diversity. What they practice is absolute dominance. At feminist meetings, pro-life women are “shouted down” and are not allowed to speak. How is that diversity or equality? It is not, it is absolute dominance. There are multiple examples of feminists either attacking their own or ignoring their own if the women are conservatives. Where were the feminists when the pundits in the press were viciously attacking Sara Palin and more importantly her daughters?

      Here is another example of how feminists don’t represent women in general and will attack their own. Back in the mid 1970’s there was a woman by the name of Marabelle Morgan. She started a seminar program for married women based upon her best selling book entitled: The Total Woman. She suggested to women to better take care of their husband’s sexual needs. One of the suggestions that she made was to: Greet your husband at the door in nothing more than saran wrap.

      This was a suggestion for women to have fun in their sex lives and practice a little spontaneity. She further recommended that women initiate sex once in a while. The Saran Wrap was designed to illustrate those suggestions. The feminists howled making noise about women being treated as sexual objects. The liberal media picked up this diatribe and gave massive amounts of coverage to it. It caused a national ministry that had proved to save and/or improve tens of thousands of marriages to be shut down. She got death threats over her work. At that time the divorce rate was about 25%. Today it is widely reported that the divorce rate is around 50%. In what ways has feminism shown to improve marriages? The evidence would speak to the contrary.

      This so empowered the liberal cabal that there was even a movie produced to shower down condescension and disapproval over Mrs. Morgan’s message. That movie was called the Stepford Wives. If you saw the movie, the leading message was to women that they should be rebellious and feel no compunction to satisfy their husband’s sexual desires.

      Clearly women look for leadership in how to conduct their lives. There is little evidence to show that feminists have improved marriages or the marriage relationship. In the chapter entitled Sex and The Bible, you will find a different role model regarding marriage and sex. Compare and contrast that message with that of the feminists to see which makes more sense.

  21. Matt at How To Get A Grip
    Matt at How To Get A Grip says:

    @Alex YES! What about boxing? I hear you loud and clear. DON’T BOX. That’s a golden rule. Don’t box, or you WILL get brain-damaged.

    And “a book on your head for ten minutes a day” sounds like a challenge. Will report back. Any prizes for moving up to fifteen, twenty minutes? Or an hour? Where do you draw the line? Is there a record for this?

  22. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    In our school district, football was banned as a school sport more than 35 years ago. A kid became a paraplegic that day, and the ball was never picked up again. The game was never even finished.

    But I do not live in the US. In your country, football has become synonymous with “America”.

    When stupid, dangerous things get wrapped up in nationalism, they become very hard to get rid of.

    Another part of the delusion, I guess.

  23. Michael Alexander
    Michael Alexander says:

    Okay, so delusional is normal. I get nothing but blank when I ask people “what is normal, why is it normal, how am I different?” We compare ourselves to what is fed up to us on the sensory platter without a hitch in our step as to what makes us an individual, a normal or a freak.

  24. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    This was an interesting post. I have been having my own “breakdown” about being a full time mother and full time employee. I am in not-for-profit working with people who have aspergers trying to get them jobs (nearly impossible right now). For awhile I was getting the magazine Working mother. What bs! These woman have high paying jobs and can afford help in their home. Most working mothers do it all. I have a great spouse but I pick up all of the little stuff. I get delusional that I can do it all and then end up with a lot of bad habits. I can’t read Pioneer woman because then I think I need to pick up and move to the farm. I get jealous about the way she makes it seem so easly. That really creates my delusion, how money makes it seem so much easier but those people are so few. I just cant read the bloggs like that anymore. That is why I like to read yours becuase you tell it like it is, yell at your kids, make mistakes and still the next day comes.

  25. Maureen Sharib
    Maureen Sharib says:

    I’d heard once that: Super Bowl Sunday is the most dangerous day of the year for wives and live-ins. That there were more emergency room visits of battered women on that day than any other day. Turns out to be an urban myth, according to Washington Post staff writer Ken Ringle.

    Damn. And it woulda’ made such a great platform…

    I totally get this sunshiny escapism thing. PioneerWoman (who I started to watch after you pointed her out but am FAST losing interest – it’s all just way too cute for my tastes) appears (to me) to be some sort of marketing genius – her website started what? 3 yrs ago?? Self-delusion and escapism is right – people suck down that drivel by the gallon full – maybe sites like hers are the new soap operas of the 21st century. I mean, her Barbara Cartland-like romance story is brilliant. She totally gets that unhappiness doesn’t sell and she’s turning it into a multi-brand shooting star(t) in minutes rather than years…

    The MOST INTERESTING things abt Martha Stewart that I ever read are the true stories about how “mean” her employees report her to be. And that she’s cheap – once pouring used wine out of glasses after catering affairs into bottles to use in her catering cooking kitchen. I dunno if any of it is true but it’s all way more interesting than her too-sweet-to-be-true shows. Though she does seem to have mellowed somewhat after her stint in the slammer…while she was in there I used to write BEGGING her to write about the experience. She turned a blind eye to my pleas. I think she missed a massive opportunity. Think of it – she coulda’ done her shows in striped sweaters w/a ball and chain – something just about every one of us drag along w/ us everyday. (His name is Bob, in my instance.) It woulda’ been HUGE…

  26. River Forest
    River Forest says:

    Our local library just purchased Pioneer Woman’s cookbook. I scanned the book, and totally agree with your assessment – light weight coverage of a TV quality fake family, fake happiness quotient, and terrible recipes. A waste of paper. Fascinating only in fact that a mediocre blogger was able to attract the web traffic and then the book deal. Perhaps she fills a niche otherwise missing higher quality content, so content becomes less important because it’s “better than nothing”. Never underestimate power of BNT.

  27. justamouse
    justamouse says:

    I’m a Gen X homeschooling mom who works from home and I have to say, I know a lot of women like myself. We’re not abnormal, we had a vision and we set out to accomplish it. Ta Da. Granted, I’m no Pioneer Woman, but my life is pretty darned awesome and I’ve often thought of marketing what I’ve done–but then I’d have no time to actually DO what I do.

    And, I’m not a a huge football fan, but it’s not going away. They’re modern day gladiators and, well, there’s that. There was an article in our local paper about a high school girl who played basketball getting severe brain damage from something like 6 concussions in one season, so it’s not football fans cheering them on. Some people are wired to play games and it’s a risk they take. We all take them. Mine is financial, theirs is physical.

    Gritty is good. Real Life is good. But you know what? We all live it. And it’s a drudge sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with escapisim, or romanticizing something better for yourself. It’s actually healthy, you visualize it and with that maybe move a step closer to accomplishing it. Don’t get me wrong, I love your blog and your posts and many times what you go through makes me want to cry, but I can’t sustain that. I need blue sky and sunshine, not grit. I don’t dream of grit. I worked hard to get out of it.

  28. Lori
    Lori says:

    Most of those who blog are like the rest of us – they don’t want to rehash all of their crap because who wants to live with either – disappointment in their life, lived once then written down – OR – be embarrassed for all the world to see. Even if its for the greater good, delusion helps us survive. Ask my mom, a survivor of war who saw her entire town bombed to bits.

    Thanks for opening my eyes to Temple Grandin. I quickly looked her up online and read lots of info about her. Quite interesting.

  29. ejly
    ejly says:

    Even as a Colts fan, I’m not ready to give up on football. I celebrate the ability of humans to overcome challenges, be they women in the workforce or athletes challenging the limits of human performance. So I don’t see why one should single out football for castigation, as opposed to boxing or rugby or any other sport.

    If people don’t try to overcome these barriers – be it dealing with sex harassment or figuring out how to protect delicate craniums over years of play – then we don’t develop the skills necessary to take on truly great challenges – permanent residence on the moon, for example, or pick an example of your own. Check out all the advances we’ve gotten from race car driving. So many common improvements have come about for regular drivers because they were developed on a track (rear view mirrors, seatbelts, etc.) – because some few drivers and teams took on the challenge to see how fast they could go, all of us get great benefits.

    Finally, as a volunteer with dog rescue organizations, I have to utterly disagree with your equating football to cockfighting or dog fighting. The animals never choose to be there. The football players wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else – and if they do, others compete eagerly for their places.

  30. neko
    neko says:

    Sarah Palin – appallingly & spectacularly unqualified for (any) national office, thinking she has any of the critical skills/tools required to address the complex issues facing this country = DELUSIONAL.

    The American people – angry & upset with their personal situations, blaming POTUS & looking to simpletons like Sarah Palin in the hope their problems can miraculously be solved w/no work on their part = DELUSIONAL.

    Me – hoping/praying that Sarah Palin would quietly exit the national stage after her starring role in her own personal three-ring political circus = possibly the most DELUSIONAL of the three.

  31. Ken Wolman
    Ken Wolman says:

    Penelope’s comments on football are actually understated. Football is not cockfighting. It’s dog-fighting. It’s Vick and those pitbulls. It’s people paying money to see a pack of animals have at each other.

    I guess this had to come from a male sooner or later. Few of us will admit that even if we’re not sissified, we’re not into watching grown men getting the shit kicked out of them either. Baseball used to be the national sport; soccer (or “futbol”) is in other countries. Only here do we laud two sports–football and boxing–which involve directly inflicting pain on an opponent. Violence happens in baseball (ask Ray Chapman if you can find him) and basketball but we’ve invented unique methods that turn the exercise into pain for pain’s sake. When I saw “Gladiator” I knew exactly what I was seeing.

    I’m not “whipped,” by the way. I was the recipient of domestic violence on two occasions. If still not misogynistic. It’s my own I find vaguely repellent.

    • Josh
      Josh says:

      Please stop talking. I’m sure you have some knitting to do.

      What a horrible post. First Penelope completely makes up a statistic (football kills more kids than guns and alcohol)to prove her point, and then when she’s called on it she says “the statistics aren’t important”.

  32. Mneiae
    Mneiae says:

    I really loved this post. It made me think about our self-perception. Additionally, I want to go work for Temple Grandin now. Ah, the enthusiasm of youth…

  33. cynthia welch
    cynthia welch says:

    Pioneer woman shows you how to make homemade donuts. REALLY? Who has the time/money (for fancy kitchen appliances) and skill set to try this? And I love how the media and blogs portray quirky kids and artsy macaroni moms as so happy and well adjusted. I can tell you first hand as a wife of an unemployed artist and an exceptionally smart but quirky little girl, you are not always accepted with open arms. This is a myth.
    Thanks Penelope for telling the struggles of motherhood and work. The doubt and anxiety that comes with it and the realization that no, your quirkiness will more than likly be frowned open rather than celebrated.

  34. Doc
    Doc says:

    Actually, Ken, you are whipped. Life is about choices. Athletes make choices generally being aware of the consequences. Boxers, many who come from poverty, accept the fact that they are going to get the crap beat out of them in exchange for the potential to earn millions of dollars. That’s their choice. We may not agree with it but I prefer to let people make certain choices without interference. Violence in baseball? On a number of punches per minute played would that even appear on a rating scale? What about hockey, where the sport is designed to have physical hits, constant movement (no huddles like that sissy football game!) and the occasional round of fisticuffs? Players engage in that sport knowing the consequences as well.

    Penelope, your statement about more football players being killed by football than drunk drivers of cars is the most bizarre twisting of statistics I have ever seen in my life. You should consider a career in politics.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Yeah, maybe you’re right about the statistics. I don’t think it’s that important, though. I mean, whatever the statistics are, football is dangerous enough to be very worried about, right?

      Maybe statistics are next frontier of self-delusion :)


      • Nicole
        Nicole says:

        @ Doc,
        your comment is funny, but P’s answer is hilarious! If statistics are not that important, then you don’t drive, nor even take a shower. People get killed doing those, so they are both dangerous enough to ban them.

        I wish a reality TV producer reads this blog. This Kimora Lee + Real Housewives’ combo can make a very entretaining show. Even more if you add the social disorder twist, it’s a sure bet that TLC or Discovery would go for it.

      • Marc Roston
        Marc Roston says:

        For previously disclosed reasons, (Note from Penelope: He’s my brother. And an economist.) I’ll call myself more qualified than most of you to comment on Penelope’s ability to perform statistical analysis.

        Usually, I am not the one on her defense. However, this time I think there’s enough ambiguity that her point merits some consideration.

        First, comparing drunk driving and football has endless issues. Let’s hit a few:

        1. Drunk driving “incidents”. Suppose you had two drinks, and you are completely legal to drive. You leave a restaurant fine. You decide 10 minutes later that you’re more tired than you thought. This could be due to a long day at work, or due to two drinks. Whatever. You pull over on the side of the road, legally. A completely sober passerby runs into your car. Breathalizer(sp?) test says you have 0.02 blood alcohol. This accident is alcohol related. So, the alcohol related stats definitively overstate injury and damage due to someone drinking.

        2. Most football players don’t get hit. Sounds stupidly obvious, but matters. All teenagers behind the wheel are driving all the time they are behind the wheel. In a football game, incredibly little time is spent “getting hit” or even preparing to get hit. Most of the time is spent on the bench, or waiting for plays. There’s nothing risky in either of those activities. Oh, and it’s not a heck of a lot less risky to ride in the passenger seat of a car.

        3. Football injuries go unreported. A pro player cannot break a nail without the press knowing. Pick-up games of football could very well have paralysis result and we don’t hear about it. Pretty clear the underlying data for low level football injuries will stink.

        So, comparing risk of activities requires a heck of a lot more data than any one of us may access. I’d say listen to the fundamental point she’s trying to make, not the “bad statistics.” They’re all bad.

  35. Marc KS
    Marc KS says:

    Look at nearly every sport to be played in the Olympics this year and you will find that athletes who perform at those extremes get injured at rates much greater than the general public.

    How many parapalegic downhill skiers are there, or snowboarders?

    You see concussions in basketball, soccer, rugby and hockey all the time yet because they aren’t nearly as popular nobody talks about them being dogfighting…

    Finally – any discussion of how bad football is shouldn’t be made on an island where you ignore the benefits. For every NFL’er there is 50 men (probably more) who played highschool and college football and learnt good lessons on the value of dedication, teamwork and trying for excellence. Their teams are places for men to gain confidence in their strength (both mental and physical), to learn how to take risks (and that risks have penalties).

    No NFL = No highschool football teams = alot of young men who are still not paying attention in school, but now no longer have a reason to want to stay out of trouble (most highschool teams require their players to have somewhat clean records and passing grades)

  36. LPC
    LPC says:

    Penelope, an absolute concept of delusion requires an absolute concept of reality. Motherhood and intimate relationships, depending on the time of day or month or year, vary. What is real? Every one of us has had SOME part of our time that IS like Ree or Heather’s writing. The only way to get more real would be to cram in more data. We read their blogs because we are entertained, and can in the reading close down our vision to see more of the pleasant parts of existence and less of the miserable.

  37. Jill
    Jill says:

    I find your comment about women bloggers very interesting. I’m blogging right now, trying to be brutally honest about my daily challenges because I found the same thing – that people don’t seem to blog about the real, dirty issues of relationships/life. But even my blog (though still in relative infancy), with a deliberate focus on the “real issues”, doesn’t cover most of the arguments you list.

    Maybe those arguments are just bad stories. For example, even though my fiance and I have issues with each other about money, I probably am not going to blog about it. It’s your principle of “don’t blog if you can’t teach people something.” There’s nothing I can teach people about fighting about money, except maybe that we all fight about money. But I think most people probably know that.

  38. Marisa
    Marisa says:

    I write about the “married woman” experience – fights, money, sex, chores, and in-laws. I write about ex-husbands and regrets and divorce, too. And you’re right, nobody else does. In fact, that’s why I started blogging: because my experience seemed so unusual until I started asking around. It’s not. We all fight and have regrets and struggle with divorces (both real and wished for).

    Until you started blogging about her, it honestly never occurred to me that Ree wasn’t a SAHM with a blog on the side. Duh. I should have known.

    And while Heather may not be 100% transparent, I do admire her honesty.

  39. Sansa
    Sansa says:


    Temple Grandin does not have Asperger’s. She’s autistic. This is like the difference between being shy at parties and J. D. Salinger. You cannot conflate the two. She didn’t even talk til she was three. Now I understand the let’s-drum-up sympathy for Asperger’s but they are not the same…

  40. Shannon
    Shannon says:


    Temple is autistic. Back when they diagnosed her, they hadn’t yet named the different spectrums along the autism line.

    I am appalled that you are so quick to point her out as a freak! As a parent of an autistic child, it is very disappointing that you judge rather than learn. Autistic children are not freaks, their brains are simply wired differently.

    I use to love your blog, but after reading this post, I found myself wondering why?

    • Jess @OpenlyBalanced
      Jess @OpenlyBalanced says:

      I do think it’s important to distinguish between Aspergers and autism as severe as Temple Grandin’s. But having heard many interviews with Temple Grandin and read much of her work, I think she would be the first to say that she is abnormal. In fact, much of her writing on autism is about honoring the fact that autistic children are wired differently, and developing educational techniques that work for the way their highly variable brains work.

      Is it possible that the word freak is particularly emotionally charged for you as it relates to your child and therefore autism? Because if you look it up in the dictionary (at least the one I checked), the primary definitions are neither judgmental nor inaccurate – clearly the curiosity, not the monstrosity in Temple Grandin’s case.

      (1. A thing or occurrence that is markedly unusual or irregular.
      2. An abnormally formed organism, especially a person or animal regarded as a curiosity or monstrosity.)

    • Stacy
      Stacy says:

      Well, lots of people are freaks–Maria Callas was one. Mariah Carey with her huge range is another. Fred Astaire, Pablo Picasso, Henry Ford–anyone who achieves anything is on the side of abnormal.

  41. ABDPBT
    ABDPBT says:

    Wow, these people don’t want to give up their football, do they? I admit I was dubious about the statistics you quoted regarding drunk driving and gun-related deaths, but it’s irrelevant whether they’re accurate: we don’t have a national holiday of sorts celebrating the wonders of gun use and drunk driving. We don’t aspire to be murderers or drunk drivers, or encourage our kids to do it.

    I hate football, obviously, and won’t be allowing my son to play it while he’s under my roof. I do think it’s kind of like population control, though: it shouldn’t require formal studies on brain damage for parents to realize that a sport that requires so much padding and helmets and calls for the repeated banging of heads and bodies against each other is bad for their kids. If you’re dumb enough to believe it’s safe, then . . .

    Re: single women blogging, they don’t have time to blog because they are too concerned with catching a man. Once they catch one, then they’ll start to blog. That’s the way women in GenX were raised, bottom line. That’s what Sex and the City is about, it’s all they have time for.

  42. Mike
    Mike says:

    “I hate the glorification of abnormal. People who are abnormal have an enormous struggle to find a place in the world. It's not fun or glamorous. The celebration of abnormal is a delusional luxury of the relatively normal population.”

    What is “normal”? Everyone is abnormal, at least to a certain extent. That’s why people can relate (somewhat) to these people. And people who can overcome enormous difficulties (such as Asperger’s) and can live fairly “normal” lives should be commended. It helps put things in perspective to people (such as say someone who is shy).

  43. Christy
    Christy says:

    Thanks for this post. I think that the idea to face our delusions each day is a really beautiful one. I’m learning that taking time out to make peace with past decisions is completely necessary in order to make that looking in the mirror thing a little easier to swallow. Many of us live with the delusion of what a perfect life is, and there is not a series of decisions we can make that will get us there. Sometimes we think we’re going to the beach and we end up vacationing at a truck stop. . .

  44. denise
    denise says:

    Okay, so your blog on self-delusion made me think of what Eckhart Tolle said in A New Earth, so I thought I’d share:

    “The achievements of humanity are impressive and undeniable. We have created sublime works of music, literature, painting, architecture, and sculpture. More recently, science and technology have brought about radical changes in the way we live and have enabled us to do and create things that would have been considered miraculous even two hundred years ago. No doubt: The human mind is intelligent. Yet its very intelligence is tainted by madness…

    “If the history of humanity were the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against his perceived “enemies”–his own unconsciousness projected outward. Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals.”

    Eckhart goes on to say that this collective delusion is the condition within which we play out all our conflicts – from warfare to personal relationships – and that while that is the bad news, the good news is that we can transform our consciousness through recognition of our own insanity. “To recognize one’s own insanity is, of course, the arising of sanity, the beginning of healing…”

    So, yah. Mindfulness, confronting reality, seems to be the path. But I don’t know about carrying a book on my head for ten minutes a day…

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