|Expressions of Anger||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Sherri Rosenthal (enocommonscompuserve.com)|
|Date: Thu, 26 Aug 1999 22:41:56 -0600 (MDT)|
Dear Friends, Stuart wrote in response to Sharon:"Clearly, there are wide cultural and class variations in how anger is normally expressed. I don't want to make any global judgement about other cultures, but I'm interested in what is culturally appropriate amongst middle class white North Americans and similar cultures (since that covers 99% of the likely potential recruits for a cohousing community represented on this list)." This touches on several topics: 1. I think the diversity among people who might appear to be "middle class white North Americans and similar cultures" is significant, and rarely explored. Assuming that "99%" of cohousers come from a similar cultural background that shares behavioral norms--particularly around acceptable ways to express anger--seems pretty dicey to me. Just as an example, since I am white and an attorney, people assume I come from a middle or upper middle class background. I come from a working class background where during my high school years my family had little money and at one point received public assistance. I was able to go to college only because of extensive scholarships and financial aid. In my working class Eastern European Jewish home, argument about politics and the Torah was cheap recreation. A volume of voice that would alarm my white middle class Southern partner was commonplace in the home in which I grew up, however, it didn't signal the emotional meaning that a Southerner would assume. In other words, exhuberant argument or even an increase in volume when angry wasn't 'heard' in that context as "yelling" as quickly as it would be in the South. And even outright yelling wasn't the big deal it would be for those from a culture that supresses anger. 2. Miscommunication--in person within cohousing, or on the Internet--is really easy, and a source of a large percentage of conflicts. I read Stuart and Sharon's e-mails, and wondered if they were using the same definitions for words like, "yelling" and "anger." 3. I think a middle path is best. Meaning, conflict should be encouraged to be expressed and resolved. A forum should be created to encourage healthy conflict resolution. Name calling is clearly out of line because it is so basically disfunctional and disrespectful. Basic respect needs to be insisted upon. And no one should ever have to fear for their physical safety. I personally feel that the group telling people to take the disagreement where the group members can't see or hear it feels like unhealthy suppression. I think it is completely okay, however, to have certain behavioural standards that the entire group comes to concensus upon which apply all the time, not just to angry members. So, if the group decides, "no public swearing," that's fine. In sum, after a little interpretive reading, I agree for the most part with both Stuart and Sharon. Best, Sherri Zann Rosenthal Eno Commons Cohousing in Durham, NC
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