Letty Russell and Joachim Jeremias on God as Father

[Original post from 2013 when I was a research assistant and read as much of the academic feminist literature as was possible]

“The title Father for God is placed in the mouth of Jesus in three other passages of Mark (8:38; 11:25; 13:32) and in six passages from Q, including the model *prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9 // Luke 11:2). It is much more frequent in the letters and in Matthew, John, and Luke. It also occurs in rabbinic literature and the Jewish *liturgy. Jesus and/or his companions may have used the title Father for God in some form, but it cannot be shown with certainty that they did so. If they did, it was because the title resonated deeply with their Jewish hearers, perhaps to express resistance to the imperial title pater patriae: “God’s reign (not the emperor’s) is near”; “God (not the emperor) is our father.”- Letty Russel, Dictionary of Feminist Theologies (Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 1.

In the early parts of the entry she deals with the view commonly ascribed to Joachim Jeremias’, that αββα (Father) was a term of childlike intimacy. She notes:,

“This idea is based primarily on analyses of *gospel materials by Joachim Jeremias (1967, 11–65). It has been used to privilege Father as a divine title and to reject feminist critiques of exclusively masculine language and imagery for God and of the problematic character of parental language for God. Jeremias’s case, which has been modified very little by his followers, relies on a series of interrelated claims: (1) that the word abba represents a special use by Jesus that was central to his teaching; (2) that for Jesus it expressed a special kind of intimacy and tenderness, deriving from its supposed origin in baby talk; (3) that Jesus’ practice was distinct from the practices of both the early church and Judaism. These claims were formulated under the influence of the patently anti-Jewish article in the TDNT by the Nazi scholar Gerhard Kittel.”

I will say this: Jesus definitely used Father language to address God.

It’s also funny to see a feminist scholar using the genetic fallacy with the ‘Nazi accusations will work’ fallacy. Those antics have been used, it seems, from the beginning. 

Father language most likely had very little to do with emotional intimacy but rather with patriarchal reverence which indicated that Jesus saw himself as the go-between for God and his people (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus is the broker between the ultimate Patron and his loyal clients. Calling God, “Father” or “Abba” was Jesus’ way of saying that God is supreme to other patrons and apparently Jesus’ way of showing that this apparently distant figure was accessible to Jesus’ followers. (see William Herzog, Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus (Louisville, KY: WJK, 2005), 12, 22-24.

To address her three points:

  1. “Father” does represent a special intimacy, but the intimacy of patron-client relationships. (See Jerome H. Neyrey,“God, Benefactor and Patron: The Major Cultural Model for Interpreting the Deity in Greco-Roman Antiquity” S.J. University of Notre Dame) This is the representation in the gospels themselves, “Nobody knows the Father, except the Son…”
  2. The use of Father was not a context independent term of intimacy and tenderness. Jeremias did not stick to his claims about the intimacy of the word nor make them central to his arguments. He changed his mind by the time he published his New Testament Theology, (see page 62-67). He noted that “It is necessary to issue a warning…the fact that abba was initially a child’s exclamatory word has led to the mistaken assumption that Jesus adopted the language of a tiny child when he addressed God as ‘Father’; even I myself believed this earlier (pp 67).” Everybody thinks this is the case these days. Sentimentality is a powerful argument. 
  3. Jesus’ practice was distinct from early Judaism, he simply called God, “Father” more often and claimed the right to bestow that option upon others. Incidentally, Jesus’ practice was not distinct from early Christianity, the early Christians say themselves imitating Jesus when they did it (see Romans 8:14-17).

The Pincer Attack

One of the mostly commonly utilized conceptual weapons in the rhetorical attack on being a normal person is ‘sexual fluidity.’

In a nutshell: “Sexual fluidity is one or more changes in sexuality or sexual identity (sometimes known as sexual orientation identity).”  It’s a favorite concept among third wave feminists, especially those who argue against hetero-normativity (which is another way of saying, ‘reproductively viable intercourse’). It is especially important to these theorizers because sexual fluidity is allegedly very common among women and therefore central to female experience. I suspect it’s actually common due to the difficulty some feminist theorists have finding partners of the opposite sex. 

Anyway, recent findings contradict this notion. One finding inverts a major feminist theory, the other is more sobering.

In the first instance, it turns out that sexual fluidity, if it exists at all, may have evolved due to polygynous household arrangements. The idea is that sexually fluid women were less likely to be competitive if they found one another sexually attractive: 

“…women may have been evolutionarily designed to be sexually fluid in order to allow them to have sex with their cowives in polygynous marriage and thus reduce conflict and tension inherent in such marriage.”

And so women with such propensities supposedly remained in polygynous households longer (see Genesis 16:6), they had more children, and their children survived. Incidentally, unrestrained sexual behavior favors a small number of men in the modern world. So, on college campuses, a much smaller percentage of male students is sexually active with multiple partners from a significantly larger pool of female students who are active with multiple partners. And while this isn’t a polygnous marriage, it would be analogous to the circumstances under which alleged sexual fluidity evolved (multiple female cooperating for the opportunity to have children with resource/charisma rich males). In other words, sexual fluidity is just a way for the patriarchy to have multiple women and for women to have more children. It’s not actually a radical idea against the sexual order. 

In the second place, it appears to be much more rare than previously believed. “The present paper reviews longitudinal studies on sexual attraction which indicate that the great majority of women do not have a fluid sexuality, but have instead stable attractions over time.”

Haha, #science. And etc. 

Thoughts on Strength Training For Women

A friend recently asked if I could help her design a strength training program (and I just finished). And while I made one for my wife and made jump/chin-up/and general strength programs for clients in the past, I still just felt the need to look more into the research on women’s health issues and the relationship between those issues and strength training. Of course, the general benefits of the iron pill still apply.

Here’s the basic formula:

Perfect form + reasonable exercise choice + progressive resistance + rest and calories = strength gains. 

But many weight lifters, male or female, don’t want strength per se. Men will want bigger arms, women bigger glutes or “toned arms.” 

While trainers should take these considerations into account in program design, general human improvement is the goal of any training program. I would say that personal trainers ought to follow something like ‘help people be happy‘ as a first principle.

Here are some difficulties faced by women:

  1. 40% of women in the United States are obese. Obesity is associated a host of mental and physical health problems. It is associated with social issues as well, specifically perceived attractiveness to both men and women. Weight gain happens so frequently in college, that it has the nick name, “the freshman 15.” That period of weight gain frequently continues through middle age. Equally dangerous is being thin but having a high bodyfat percentage. This is known as being skinny-fat.
  2. Roughly 25% of American women use prescription medication for depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems. Women disproportionately struggle with depression for a host of reasons, one of which may be physical weakness. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to be depressed.
  3. Women disproportionately develop osteoporosis.
  4. Women can become pregnant, which is physiologically and psychologically stressful. Not only so, but a large percentage of women simultaneously want to become pregnant at some point but delay pregnancy into their thirties or are obese, both of which decrease one’s chances at becoming pregnant.   

Now, here is what some research says about the effect of strength training on these difficulties:

  1. Strength training is a remarkably effective intervention for obesity and body composition. Improvement in body composition is important for those who are obese and those who are ‘skinny-fat.’ In this sense, strength training contributes to cardiovascular health, decreased cancer diagnoses (cancer increases in obese individuals), perceived attractiveness (strength training can decrease waist size and increase hip circumference, thereby moving the Waist Hip Ratio between 0.65-0.75 which is apparently the gold standard in terms of cross-cultural attractiveness and perceived fertility), fertility, and several other markers of general well-being associated with a healthy BMI and body composition. 
  2. Exercise generally both aerobic and resistance training in particular have “a large and significant antidepressant effect in people with depression.” One intriguing theory is that depression evolved as a bargaining tool for resource acquisition during periods of physical weakness. And while I make no recommendations about health or drugs on this blog, in the case of depression
  3. Resistance training improves bone health in young adult and post-menopausal women.
  4. Strength training improves markers of physiological and psychological health in post-partum women. Strength training before and during pregnancy, especially when combined with aerobics  is associated with a host of benefits. These benefits include: decreased time in first stage of labor, decreased back pain, lower incidence of gestational diabetes, healthier weight gain, heavier babies (good or bad?), less time off work for pain, lower incidence of preeclampsia, and increased cardio-respiratory fitness. For obese women, exercise generally, is associated with proper regulation of ovulation, though overtraining can have a negative effect on fertility. Also, progressive resistance training may contribute positively to an total treatment program for PCOS due the association of PCOS with insulin resistance.

Strength training has an almost panaceaic quality for several of the problems faced by women as throughout their lives.

 

 

 

 

Headship and Submission in Marriage

The Glass of Wine – Jan Vemeer I have no idea if they’re married or not, but this picture always struck me as a relaxing vision of an evening in the good life.

A friend recently asked about this topic, so I thought I’d give a sketch of my thoughts. I won’t be citing any sources, but hopefully what I cite as evidence is either self-evident or easily obtainable.

The basic question is this:

What does is mean to submit to your husband as the head of the household in the Bible?

Put more theologically:

Does being a Christian mean that a woman loses her autonomy to her husband?

And here is the question with a twist toward defending the faith:

If male/female equality is true and the Bible teaches husband/wife hierarchy, does that mean the Bible is wrong?

So there are three layers of discussion here:

  1. What does the New Testament actually teach about husband/wife relationships?
  2. What does it mean to be a Christian?
  3. Is the biblical picture of a well functioning marriage true/workable today?

Question 1: What does the NT actually teach about husband/wife relationships?

If somebody asked me, “does the Bible say wives should submit to their husbands,” my straight forward answer would be, “Yes.” If they said, “What do you think that means?” I’d say, “She should respect him, in public and private.”

If I were asked to give further explanation, I’d elaborate like this.

For the sake of argument, let us assume we’re talking about married Christians who aren’t having significant problems worthy or counseling or legal intervention (being physically assaulted is a problem for police and the legal system, the church can excommunicate an abusive spouse but can do relatively little to get them out of your life).

First, the Bible is clear about the core behavioral principle of Christians toward each other:

“Love one another even as I [Jesus] have loved you. ” (John 13:34)

“Whatever you wish others would do for you, you do unto them.” (Matthew 7:13)

The first principle of all relationships between Christians is love for one another because the first aim for the Christian is to seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness (Matt 6:33).

The second principle for understanding the Christian instructions regarding husbands and wives is that the household was seen as a microcosm of society in the ancient world, as such a household was in competition with other households for prestige and resources and all human societies had a leader or, as the Bible says, “head.” This is just how things were conceived, or at least how they were written about. For instance, in Ephesians 1:22-23, Jesus is the head of the church and all spiritual reality. And so families/households had a head, the husband.

For the husband to be the head of household usually means four things:

  1. He is the provider for the family.
  2. He is the protector of the family.
  3. He is the representative of the family’s needs in the broader society. (this fits well with the previous two)
  4. He is the de facto leader of the group.

Now, in the case of Jesus Christ and his church, submitting to him as the head of the church means obedience, worship, and persistent deference to his will. In the case of Christian marriage it means what you might see in Proverbs 31. The woman there submits to her husband’s headship by ensuring that the well being his household is achieved:

  1. she cares for his health
  2. she raises their children
  3. she manages the in-house financials
  4. she uses her resources to improve the financial situation of the house in the market
  5. she seeks to maintain the honor of the household among the neighboring families.

In other words, to submit to your husband is to promote his interests and those of the family generally. Paul puts it this way: “…let each wife respect her husband.” In other words, submission isn’t a matter of obedience as it is toward Christ. Instead, submission is meant in the sense of admiration and pursuit of his well-being and honor.

Now, the interesting thing in the New Testament is that no specific rules are set forth for how husband/wife relationships should be pursued, but rather general principles. Husbands are to put extra effort into loving their wives and wives into respecting their husbands. My guess is that the general temptation of a wife is to gossip about or mother her husband and that the general temptation of a husband is to treat his wife harshly (like one of the fellas), neglect her needs, or talk down to her. So Paul give instructions to address each of these in Ephesians 5:33, “Let each husband love his own wife as himself and each wife respect her husband.”

As a tip, I recommend that men go out of their way to be admirable (to make your wife’s job of respect easier), and that women go out of their way to be sweet/lovable (to make your husband’s job easier).

As an aside, there is a sense in which husbands are to respect/honor their wives (Proverbs 31 says that a good husband praises his wife in the gates) and wives are to love their husbands, as the general command to Christians is to respect each other, encourage one another, listen to one another, and love each other.

Briefly, nowhere in Scripture is a husband instructed to boss his wife around, abuse her, or run her down as a function of his headship. That has happened in history and been perpetrated by Christians, but is forbidden in Scripture (1 Peter 3:7).

Question 2: What does it mean to be a Christian?

Some people feel that women might lose their autonomy in a marriage that uses the language of ‘headship’ or ‘submission.’ I want to address a few things here:

  1. People are justified by faith in Christ. So one does not become a Christian by figuring out how to be a spouse. Rather, one learns to be a better spouse by discipleship to Christ. This particular issue, while important, is secondary. Not only is it secondary, it’s disputed. The picture I painted above may not be accurate.
  2. One loses and gains autonomy as a Christian. When you become a Christian, you’re committing to be crucified to the world with Christ. But in doing so, you can find your life and find it to the full.
  3. When you get married, whether you’re a husband or a wife, you’re more specifically defining who you are. To define oneself at all is a simultaneous gain and loss of autonomy. If you become Jackie’s husband or Jerry’s wife, then you’re making a choice to be a specific person bound to another specific person. In that sense, you put on an identity within which to make a wide range of previously unavailable choices (gained autonomy) and you’ve severely limited your choices as well (lost autonomy).

Converting to Christianity or getting married is to lose/gain autonomy, but this is how all choices are. I do fear that certain quarters of the feminist movement want a world in which choices lead only to gained autonomy:

It would appear that while no woman needs a man for companionship, women need men and other women to pay for their birth control.

Thankfully, such a world is impossible.

Question 3: Is the picture of headship prescribed in Scripture good or workable?

I think the answer is yes. Most of what comes next is just a sketch, and maybe even speculative, though the psychological (esp. evo-psych) and anthropological research is there.

The notion that headship means domineering is clearly wrong. The notion that it means to protect, provide, represent, and lead is generally what children want in a dad and wives in a husband. In cases wherein things are different, the Bible is clear that people should treat others as they want to be treated and discussion and compromise are necessary. But I think that in the majority of civilizational history, women have had particular duties which made it difficult for them to be, in any sense, “head” of the family. Once a baby was born, mom became attached to the duties of feeding, educating, and otherwise caring for baby. This did not mean that they weren’t leaders, influencers, creative thinkers, or productive. It just meant they did it as mothers.

Insofar as biological sex differences are products of divine creation and/or evolutionary processes, the development of the headship model is rather natural and the Paul’s method of attaching the mutual ethics of love and respect to that model help to make it work in a fashion, not of biological necessity, but of Christian spiritual formation.

Concluding Thoughts

It’s best to remember that the New Testament commands all Christians to love and honor/submit to one another and that the character of married couples must include both of those traits, because in many places those characteristics are encourages without reference to gender roles or any roles in particular. So, Christian wives ought to respect their husbands and Christian husbands ought to love their wives.

The other details (the nature of roles) are definitely cultural, but culture comes from human beings whose behavior comes from their nature. And so it’s best to determine if the roles mentioned in the New Testament work before rejecting them outright. And like many of the social rules in the New Testament, there are likely exceptions.

Proverbs 31: A Biblical Interpretation Case Study

A money lender and his wife, by Quentin Metsys

In an article at Relevant magazine, a competent and articulate writer named Lauren Oquist challenges readers of her article to stop obsessing over the Proverbs 31 woman. The point of this post is not to be critical of the author of the post quoted (though I will be critical of her post), the point is to demonstrate how a fuller reading of a Biblical book might help it yield its treasures.

Brief Personal Interlude: I don’t like the phrase “Proverbs 31 woman.”

Over all, the title of the article is good advice. I think that people, in general, should avoid obsessions. On top of that, I find the theme of her article very helpful. She essentially says that no particular Biblical type should become the primary focus of our lives, except for the imitation of Jesus Christ. Such types were never meant to be the primary metaphors we use to govern our lives. I quote her article because it brought up a conversation my wife and I had several months ago that came up again this morning, so even where I disagree with this or that point she makes, her article inspired my blog post and ultimately concludes the same way.

Exercise in Thoughtful Reading: Go read Proverbs 31:1-31.

Asking the Right Questions
In good rhetorical fashion (like I said, competent writer), Oquist simultaneously relates to her readership as well as establishes the need for the problem she attempts to solve:

Maybe you, like me, read this passage [Proverbs 31:10-31 ] and think to yourself well sheesh. Is every woman supposed to try and fit this mold? And how would that be possible if every woman is different? What if she can’t sew or cook or hires a nanny for her kids during the week? What if she never even gets married? Does that mean she’s not living up to her God-given potential as a female? Does that mean she’s living in sin?

And what if you don’t want to be a Proverbs 31 woman?

 

When she admits that the passage is difficult to put into practice she also grasps the interpretive crux of the issue when she asks, “is every woman supposed to try to fit this mold?” In general, Christians should ask questions like this of many of our favorite Bible passages. If we thought of the immediate context of a Biblical book, its genre, and where that book fits in the timeline of Scripture before we tried to emulate a character or obey a saying, then Christians would make more sense. Examples:
  1. Should I try to be like King David?
  2. Should I take up my cross and follow Jesus?
  3. Should I put the Sermon on the Mount into practice?

These questions have answers that can be found by examining the books of the Bible containing these people and precepts as well as by examining the whole canon of Scripture.

Oquist asks the right question for spiritual growth and personal assessment and the wrong question for Biblical interpretation: “what if you don’t want to be a [fill in the blank]?” Asking this question to help me understand the Bible opens up circumstances like this:

I read the Sermon on the Mount and ask, “Do I even want to love my enemies?”

That is a good question for assessing the state of my soul, but it is a poor question for assessing whether the gospel authors are prescribing Jesus’ teachings to their readers. For instance, if I don’t want to obey Jesus, I cannot then infer that Matthew wrote his gospel without meaning for people to obey Jesus.

The same goes for Proverbs 31:10-31. It is a tall order, but simply because it is idealistic does not mean that it is not prescriptive. The first question must be answered, “Is this passage for personal application?” Before we move on, it is important to note that the article I am quoting does not claim to answer the question about whether the passage should be obeyed by using the question about “wanting to,” though it may imply as much.

Who is the “Good Wife” of Proverbs 31? A Heuristic for An Ancient Near-Eastern King
The Proverbs 31 woman is clearly not a particular woman because the author sets her up as a type, in fact precisely as an ideal to appreciate specific instances of (and, we’ll see later to emulate):

 Proverbs 31:10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.

This is advice to a King from his mother, who apparently played the role of a prophet to the royal court. King Lemuel’s mother gave him the following paradigm for being a good king. The advice ranges from the need to be chaste to the need to heed the rights of the poor. Recall from your earlier reading that Proverbs 31 starts like this:

Proverbs 31:1-9  The words of King Lemuel. An oracle that his mother taught him:  (2)  What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?  (3)  Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings.  (4)  It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink,  (5)  lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.  (6)  Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress;  (7)  let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.  (8)  Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute.  (9)  Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

The Proverbs 31 woman appears to be an expression of the type of woman whose activity King Lemuel is to laud as worthy of public praise for the good of society (see the counter point of Lady Folly in Proverbs 5-9). He is to do this so that that these traits will be sought as virtuous and those who have them will be seen as venerable. The result is a sort of ethic of the city-state that we see in Aristotle. Certain behaviors, if lauded by respected/respectable people, will be valued by those who respect them. The same principle is in play when young people dress like and parrot the values of favorite band members, local politicians, or movie stars.

Essentially then, the king’s mother says that being a good king necessitates recognizing the moral agency of women and praising the upright women in the land. See the end:

Proverbs 31:30-31  Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.  (31)  Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

Thus, all of the traits are to be praised as explicitly virtuous in any particular woman. The passage is not addressed to men or women per se, but to kings or people of influence. On the other hand, even though the passage is not about particular women, it is explicitly about the virtues of women who are in the attendant circumstances in which those virtues or behaviors make sense.

A Paradigm for Praiseworthy Living
Which brings me to my own final point. The book of Proverbs itself is largely instruction to men about how to grow up wisely, “Proverbs 1:8a Hear my son…” But it would be weird to think that it cannot apply to women or that since it would be hard for one man to have all of those traits the book shouldn’t be seen as applicable to men. In fact, one of the most frequent observations concerning Proverbs is its almost universal applicability in the lives of those who read it daily. If we return to the early chapters of Proverbs we can see a figure commonly referred to as Lady Wisdom. She is put before the readers to represent several realities:

  1. She is a prophet who represents God (Proverbs 1:20)
  2. She is like your mother, whose sound words can save you (Proverbs 1:8)
  3. She is like a woman to court over against lady folly (Proverbs 8:17)
  4. She is representative of God’s mind as he upholds the cosmos (Proverbs 8:22-30)
  5. As such, her ways are to be emulated (Proverbs 8:32)

Therefore, by virtue of the analogy between the type of woman that King Lemuel is supposed to praise in the gates and Lady Wisdom, the male or female reader of Proverbs should find concrete examples of wise and virtuous behavior to put into practice when they read about the good wife of Proverbs 31 just as much as they would find as they read the rest of Proverbs. For example, Jesus would wake up before sun rise to pray as a matter of custom (Mark 1:35, cf. Proverbs 31:15) just as the woman of Proverbs 31 does.

Conclusion
A hermeneutic that dismisses Scripture before it is determined to be applicable is not a best practice. In this case, the wife figure of Proverbs 31 is most likely a paradigmatic expression of virtues in many circumstances, particularly of praiseworthy women, rather than a purely impossible or offensive ideal which is best left ignored or dismissed.

 

Women and Men Need Toxic Masculinity

In the feminist literature, one of the features of toxic masculinity is stoicism with respect to your emotions. The idea is that controlling, regulating, or moderating your emotions is a form of freudian repression that somehow hurts men. As an aside, having anger is also considered a form of toxic masculinity. I’ll agree that outbursts of uncontrolled anger are bad, but most authors who ever wrote about masculinity or virtue have only ever said that anger, even when justified, is dangerous to allow to grow uninhibited by reason.

All of this to say, it appears that a lack of stoicism (toxic masculinity) is harming women and their relationships in the UK. In an article posted at the Daily Mail, Antonia Hoyle observes that women seem to be exhibiting significantly less self-control with respect to anger:

‘We are treating more women than ever who are struggling to regulate their emotions and express themselves appropriately,’ says Dr Monica Cain, a counselling psychologist at London’s Nightingale Hospital.

So what is causing the red mist to descend for so many women? And why is this anger afflicting so many upstanding women, the sort you might hope would be immune to, or too ashamed of, having outbursts?

Some experts suggest women believe that such outward displays of aggression allow them to seize the initiative from traditionally dominant men. Whether it’s in the workplace or around the dining table, shouting, swearing or throwing things are increasingly viewed as valid methods for women to assert themselves.

Dr Elle Boag, social psychologist at Birmingham City University, says: ‘Women feel aggression is a form of empowerment. It has become so commonplace that it’s not even shameful.’

Indeed, Jo insists it’s her right to shout at family and strangers alike. ‘When I’ve calmed down, I apologise if I’m in the wrong. But if someone has been rude or disrespectful, I feel my temper is justified,’ she says.

‘Lashing out is just a way of expressing myself.’

As well as this sense of entitlement, there’s the ever-present, age-old pressure to ‘have it all’. With competitive streaks accentuated by demanding careers and the seemingly perfect lifestyles displayed by celebrities, women are cracking under the pressure.

‘There is a perception that women have to have the perfect home, raise children and have a career that’s fulfilling and brings in an enviable lifestyle and income,’ says Dr Cain.

If someone has been rude or disrespectful, I feel my temper is justified. Lashing out is just a way of expressing myself

‘We are driving ourselves to the limit and a build-up of internal pressure over time can lead to us getting very frustrated over issues that would normally cause no more than a niggle.’

Such outbursts can also become addictive, a form of almost animalistic release. The burden mounts, tension builds and the almost exquisite joy of letting it all out becomes almost compulsive for some women.

It’s a feeling that Jo, who lives in Brighton with her partner Steven, 50, and his two children Jane, 21, and Tommy, 17, can identify with.

‘While I don’t feel proud of myself there is a cathartic release in letting my emotions out,’ says Jo.

Also, one can see an example of non-toxic femininity from the paragon of sensibility and reason, Jezebel:

One of your editors heard her boyfriend flirting on the phone with another girl, so she slapped the phone out of his hands and hit him in the face and neck…

According to feminists of this sort, an example of a toxic male in ancient literature would be Marcus Aurelius’ friend Sextus:

[A]nd he had the faculty both of discovering and ordering, in an intelligent and methodical way, the principles necessary for life; and he never showed anger or any other passion, but was entirely free from passion, and also most affectionate; and he could express approbation without noisy display, and he possessed much knowledge without ostentation.
Marcus Aurelius, “The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus,” in The Harvard Classics 2: Plato, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, ed. Charles W. Eliot, trans. George Long (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1917), 195.

Instead of showing displays of uncontrollable passion, Sextus was known instead for affection, intelligence, knowledge, humility, and praise of others. Interestingly, accumulated research tells us that acting out on anger without deliberation leads to further irrational displays of anger:

Psychological research has shown virtually no support for the beneficial effects of venting, and instead suggests that venting increases the likelihood of anger expression and its negative consequences.

In other words, the women discussed in the articles above need to absorb the lessons of toxic masculinity (self-control) rather than buying into the idea that angry displays are empowering or worse, the idea that controlling your emotions is a failure to “express yourself.” Stoicism would also be helpful with respect to food.