Are You Irrational?

Are You Irrational?

I hate this question.

Are you — woman, mother, implied inferior being — irrational?

The waft of sexism is sickening, like the lobster burrito I ate in the first trimester of my first pregnancy.

Women have been called irrational for millennia. Hippocrates’s discovery of our wandering womb’s contribution to hysteria, 19th century Harvard Professor Edward Clarke’s supposition that too much education for women atrophies the womb, or any Google investigation with the words “women” and “irrational” in the search bar prove that we moms are crazy loons constantly on the verge of a nervous breakdown, with our blasted uterus as the most likely culprit.[1]

Therefore, I really hate asking this question again.

Are you irrational?

Male philosophers, politicians, and many women believe female irrationality is encoded into our bodies.

How many times have you blamed your hormones or your mommy brain for a “moment” of anger at your husband or children? I do it all the time.

When I say hormones I probably mean sleep deprivation. Nevertheless, giving birth, nursing, then weaning, then getting my cycle back, then looking at the mess childbearing had made on my body, all made me feel a little crazy sometimes.

Does this mean I’m an irrational being?

Not any more than the typical person, male or female.

But yet I hate to ask.

Are WE irrational?

How else to explain the collective, normative body image disorder plaguing American women.[2] You are more likely to be a woman who disapproves of her own body than one who accepts her form. Irrationality has moved from our actual bodies to our thoughts.

I meet few women who believe, like Clarke, that education deprives blood from the womb, or that our female hormones make us unfit for public life, but I meet even fewer women who don’t have a problem with their bodies.

Excuse my acronym, but WTF?!

Why do we accept that a state of body image hysteria is normal? And why do we believe the only way to combat this hysteria is by blunting our negative thoughts with cheery, empowering, diaphanous mantras of “I love myself” or “I admire my body” or “I’m beautiful G – –  D – – n – t!” — like we are trying to capture our negative thoughts, stuff them down down down and pull self-love out of our magic womb hats.


You can’t believe self-love mantras without knowing why you believe them, and you can’t know why you believe them until you slice the irrationality out of your negative body thoughts.

You are not irrational!

But your thoughts may be, and luckily you can do something about that.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Body Image Exercise.

Return to Week 4

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