“Lady Middleton resigned herself... Contenting herself with merely giving her husband a gentle reprimand on the subject, five or six times every day.”
“You have got a sharp tongue, haven't you honey? You'll have to watch it or you'll go to a lonely spinster's grave.”
Well, yeah, but... He was a man.“It requires the feminine temperament to repeat the same thing three times with unabated zest.”
|2014: A Year In Stories|
A twelve-volume anthology published by Pure Slush Books
So is nagging how men define "the repetition of unpalatable truths" (Edith Clara Summerskill)? Or is that just feminist wishful thinking? Is there such a thing as objective, non-gender-slandering nagging?
Michael Webb doesn't think so.
Mark Hamilton would probably characterize his wife as nagging, but I don't think he is correct. I don't like the word across the board. It is far and away applied to women instead of men, which makes me suspicious right off the bat. And in my experience, it is a slur a man applies when he is being asked to engage in so called "women's work", the drudgery of running a household that is critical to make any family work properly.
This is deeply unfair.
In any grouping of people, certain tasks have to be performed- laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, shopping, home repair, etc. To remind another member of the household to do one of these things isn't fun, but it's not fair to call it "nagging".
On the other hand, Stephen (Stephen V. Ramey's fictional pseudo-alter ego--ambivalent enough, yes?) says:
Some people see Anne as a nagging wife because she confronts Stephen about his shortcomings in a direct manner. From Stephen's point of view this is certainly correct. He knows what he's supposed to have done, that he's supposed to contribute to the marriage. Telling him again won't do anything but aggravate. Anne must realize how ineffective nagging is, yet she persists. Why? I suspect Dr. Phil is right and she must get something out of the process or she would stop.
For Anne, I think it's a matter of relieving her own tension. As a goal-driven person it must be frustrating to have to rely on someone else in order to achieve goals that are important to her. Rather than feel powerless and possibly sink into depression, she keeps pushing, and lashes out from time to time. The routine also reinforces the household pecking order, with Anne as the dominant force who achieves goals and Stephen as the beta male. Nothing would get done around here without Anne. That it's true, does not make it any easier on Stephen. No one wants to be treated like a child.
("Then stop acting like one," Anne would say.)
And then there's Nate Tower, whose 2014 story cycle is keeping us all in morbid, if horrified, hilarity. (Listen to Nate's reading of his January, February, and March stories and find out why.)
Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands, released last month by Martian Lit, should have some answers about this nag-or-no-nag. One would think.
Okay, I would think.
Which is why I was immensely frustrated to find this post on his blog: 24 Reasons That Don't Explain Why I Titled My Short Story Collection 'Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands'. Frustration which lasted all of five sentences, when I read this:
Originally accepted almost two years ago, [the collection] was later retroactively rejected because the publisher feared it might be taken as misogynistic.
That sounded promising. But then I got to this part:
First, I need to confess that I am mostly not an idiot when it comes to being a husband. Yes, I have some flaws. But I don’t leave the toilet seat up, I put the dishes away, and I don’t sit on the couch and order my woman to fetch me a beer while I watch the big game with my buddies. Not that there is anything wrong with men who do. Well, maybe there’s a little wrong.
And then--then--I find out his wife is anything but a Nagging Wife.
1. She was okay with the fact that I titled my collection of weird short fiction Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands. She’s also very supportive of my writing career, unlike Mark Nipple’s wife who won’t support his desire to be in a Sex Pistols knockoff band. Not only is she supportive, but she doesn’t nag at all.
By the end of the list (there's 24 points; read them all here) I was wondering, along with everyone else:
“Well, if your wife is so perfect, what exactly inspired you to write these stories and put them together in a collection to call extra attention to the fact that wives nag and husbands are idiots?”
You--and I--will have to read the collection to find out.
What constitutes nagging in your world? Is it a predominantly feminine thing? Can--do--men nag? What about other instances of nagging that don't involve wives/husbands? Do you agree with Stephen that there's something in it for the nagger? Or are you with Michael in that nagging is in the eye of the naggee?
~ * ~
Thanks for visiting (and sorry for the late post--it's been a crazy week. Month.)
(Love you all. No, really.)