Saturday, August 12, 2006

Nagging: The Gender Mystery Solved

Women nag. That’s the truism that has come down through the centuries, long before the medieval street drama featured Noah’s wife as the ultimate nag.

Why do women have such a reputation?

I solved the mystery this morning as I was standing at the sink, having been accused by my husband of nagging—though apparently the better part of valor kept him from using that word.

We were up north at our little farm and I was cleaning beets from our vegetable garden when I realized once again that he had thrown into the garbage our plastic grocery bags that I needed to transport the vegetables back home. How many times have I told him I need those bags, and now they were covered with garbage at the bottom of the trash.

So what erupted was the N-word.

He quickly found some outside work to do and I was left in silence at the sink cleaning beets and stewing about the fact that I would probably have to put them in my purse to transport them back home.

It was then that I solved the centuries-old gender mystery of nagging.

I was reminded of how he had early in our marriage (only 2 years ago!) ranted at me. Notice I don’t use the N-word. He like most men is way too manly to nag. He had ranted at me about throwing away the water that I’d cooked the beets (and other vegetables) in, which he drinks for the nutrients. Since I had never before saved the water, I unconsciously dumped it out more than once, but his rants were enough to stop me dead in my tracks until I became adjusted to automatically saving it—or scooping it out of the drain after it’s been dumped. (He doesn’t read blogs, so he’ll never know!) I heard his rants and acted on them.

He (and his gender), on the other hand, pay little attention to women’s quirks. My need for plastic grocery bags is so inconsequential that it’s ignored. I respond. Thus the accusation of nagging.

When he finally had the courage to return to the kitchen I presented my conclusions to him and told him I was prepared to go public.

He strongly disagreed with my position and insisted that anything I wrote in a blog must include his response, which was little more than a convoluted rationalization—something about “women go on and on and on and on.”

That’s as much as I remember because we ended in fits of laughter and I assume his position is little more than frivolity anyway.

The truth is he had no lucid response to my break-through—apart from calling me a horse’s ass!

My discovery is indeed a brilliant break-through. I have shifted the paradigm! No longer can mankind speak of nagging without focusing first on the naggee.


  1. I agree with your basic premise that women have to "nag" because their needs and interests are trivialized by the listener.

  2. "though apparently the better part of valor kept him from using that word.


  3. You know, I have come up with a similar line of reasoning. I think that too often men--even the men we love--just tune us out. I have told my husband a hundred times to make sure the kitchen door is latched so the wind won't blow it open, yet more than once I have gotten the call at work--"How many cats are supposed to be in the house?"

    I think part of it is cultural conditioning, because I know my husband loves me and values my opinions. Just sometimes he is focused on his own thoughts and what I say just goes past him.

  4. Ruth, Ruth, Ruth...

    Women who attempt to get their husband's attention verbally -- usually over the same issue repeatedly -- nag.

    Men who attempt to get their wife's attention verbally -- usually over the same issue repeatedly -- lead.

    C'mon, haven't you read your complementarians? Hahahahahaha!!!

    Blessings, with tongue firmly in cheek,