fear · musings

Why are We so Afraid?

In the past couple of years, I’ve heard many women comment their political views are 180 degrees different from their spouses, one being far right, one being far left. This leads to the battle of who operates the TV remote control, and who gets to dictate what is watched and when.

Often my women friends acquiesce control in order to maintain peace.

“It’s just easier not to argue,” they tell me, so they settle to listen to the rantings of on-air commentators with whom they disagree.

The contest between the sexes about ‘ownership’ of the remote has been going on since television hit mainstream audiences, and it has been my experience that the men in the household usually win out. And this conflict seems to have become more pronounced in today’s political environment.

So, I have to ask myself, why is that?

First of all, why do men think they are King of the Channel Changing Kingdom?

And secondly, why do women give up that power?

I remember, when Jack was alive, I got very tired of watching the Discovery Channel where one species of animals stalked, killed and ate a member of another species. It was a mild irritation, so I would retreat to another room in the house in order to avoid viewing the unsightly natural instincts at work.

But the political arena has brought out more hostility on my part. The mere sound of certain talking heads sets my teeth on edge, and makes me immediately resort to near violence as I lunge to change the channel. I find it is a blessing to live alone so I have the freedom to pick and choose without justifying, promising or fearing.

Society assumes men have the power, are the authority, and have the unspoken right to dictate what is watched. If that assumption is challenged fear erupts for both men and women. Men are fearful of losing their power which often is their definition of manhood. For centuries men have ruled, and to have that authority questioned results in anger, hostility, and often aggressiveness.

Women are also fearful of challenging men and their authority. We’ve been taught and trained to surrender, to quietly accept, to not create waves and to keep peace. Once again, why are we women afraid to confront?

My reading indicates we are fearful of the anger, the hostility the aggressiveness, and possible abandonment that may result.

(I recommend watching the highly acclaimed movie ‘Roma’. It was awarded the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film, and it a remarkable story of the vulnerability and resiliency of women).

What would happen if women suddenly changed channels on the radios and TVs to what they want to watch?  We can expect equal viewing time, each getting an hour a day for one, and an equal amount of time for the other. This week one gets early morning viewing, next week the other gets early morning.

As I think about my life, I wonder why I have been so hesitant to ask for equality in my own home? Men are afraid of losing their power, and women are afraid of demanding and/or expecting it.

I see that dynamic changing. For women it is a slow and painful evolution, but also exhilarating and scary. For men it may appear fast, frustrating, unnecessary and unfair.

Oh, the perils of owning the remote control.

22 thoughts on “Why are We so Afraid?

  1. Oh, love this post Margo!

    My late husband hated it if I picked up the remote control first. He would make derogatory remarks about my choice and bang a door or two before taking himself off to another room where there was a second TV.

    Some years ago, a friend told me her husband wouldn’t allow anyone to use the remote control. He insisted everyone leave their seats and use the television itself to change channel. I asked why she didn’t simply ignore him, she said it wasn’t worth the aggravation. Personally, I would have stood my ground no matter what the consequences.


  2. Or sports. Maybe I don’t want to watch yet another game….🙄

    Is it a wonder with today’s technology that people spend more time apart in various rooms of the house with their own screen? Gone are the days of compromise and negotiation. Just pick up your own screen, or go to another room with a screen, and do what you want.


  3. Well done!!

    From: that little voice Reply-To: that little voice Date: Thursday, January 10, 2019 at 1:23 AM To: Paula James Subject: [New post] Why are We so Afraid?

    WordPress.com that little voice posted: “In the past couple of years, I’ve heard many women comment their political views are 180 degrees different from their spouses, one being far right, one being far left. This leads to the battle of who operates the TV remote control, and who gets to dictate”


  4. WOW. You have hit a very sharp nail square on the head with this one. I’m actually sitting in my office with earphones on to classical music to drown out the voice of POTUS who just said, “I never said Mexico was going to build the wall!” Though I do as you suggest and generally just acquiesce to the rantings of whatever Tom is watching. I couldn’t contain myself at that bold faced lie and pointed it out which got an immediate angry outburst about his low opinion of Obama and how no matter how bad this one is, the others were worse. I’ve retreated to the office but now need to pack up and head to a coffee shop where I’ve been invited to try to sell a few copies of my book. I’m forwarding this one on to said husband. It really is right on.

    Kathryn Haueisen Freelance Author, Pastor, Speaker http://www.HowWiseThen.com https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKHaueisen



    1. Since #MeToo I’ve heard more and more such stories. And, of course, I did the same thing with Jack. I keep coming to the question, what am/was I afraid of? Let him get mad…and send him to his room, as we would a child.
      No simple answer.
      Going to write about boundaries and how men and women view boundaries differently. Thanks for your reply.


  5. When my husband was still alive, he usually controlled the remote – of course, right? But there were certain shows I insisted I watch, and he didn’t grump. Too much. I now find great pleasure in living alone and being in total control. I’m over compromising nowadays.


  6. When hubby was alive, we found this to be a doable compromise. He got certain days of the week when he could watch whatever he liked (and had control of the remote) and I got certain days. Now that’s not to say it worked perfectly, if there was suddenly a major sporting event that he just COULD NOT miss, it was easier to let him have his way. His sulks were what I imagine a two year old who needs a nap really badly would act like. And to be fair, sometimes there was something (rarely, but sometimes) that I could NOT miss watching. He usually gave in with a little good grace. And it was odd that sometimes he’d get hooked on a series that I was into, one that wasn’t exactly ‘manly’. I grew to like action films, whereas I had never watched those when I was single. Sports though? Almost ANY sports are not something I’d waste time watching, including the Olympics. But football is my nemesis. I loathe it and cannot even listen to it (I’d do the go to another room trick too). So I got some head phones and shut the door to whichever room I went to. It worked fairly well except hubby also was raised to think that the woman should fetch food and beverages. Now that sparked more fights than anything else. I said he had two legs and he should use them before they fell off. He wasn’t amused.


    1. Melanie, I found that once we start a relationship with certain rules, it is nearly impossible to change those rules. When I married the second time, I had learned things I didn’t want to do…like cook. He understood that going into the marriage, so we agreed on that. The problem, of course, is that many things we didn’t know to negotiate about. So, compromises became really important. But we worked it all out during the 20 years we were married. It also helped that we didn’t have children to include in every day negotiations.They were grown and independent by the time we got together. Now, I love living alone where the only person I have to compromise with is myself…do I want to watch channel X or channel Y?


  7. I remember my ex walking in the house, me watching something and him saying “are you watching that?” I learned to say, sarcastically, “um, no. Just sitting here staring at it but not watching. “ But often, I’d just give him the remote, after gaging his mood and how much I wanted to watch the show vs. deal with his anger over the perceived insult that I was taking his power.

    Now, my significant other and I choose together. It’s so nice.

    You have heard that old joke, How do you get a man to do sit-ups? Put the remote between his feet.


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