Whence This Fear of Judgment?

Via FARK, a news story about a new steak-serving restaurant that is only for women:
The Desperate Housewives star is, according to folks at Perez Hilton, apparently geared up to open a women-only steakhouse in Las Vegas, so that women can give into their secret cravings for delicious meat WITHOUT the judging eyes of their male companions upon them.

Pardon? Is that genuinely a thing that women are worried about when tucking into a juicy plate of peppered steak?
I don't know that it is, but this fear of being judged is something that I hear from female acquaintances very often. It is expressed as resentment of people that they think were judging them (based on some internal intuition about what those people must-have-been / might-have-been thinking); or it's expressed as relief and comfort that they think they are in an area where no one will be judging them; or it's expressed aspirationally as their hope or intention for a given group ('This should be a judgment-free zone'); or it's expressed ironically, but with the clear underlying intent that they should be free to behave in a given way without being judged ('No judging!').

Now many of these same women make judgments about others that are quite harsh, so perhaps they are simply pleading to be excepted from a viciousness that they know very well from their own hearts. However, some of them are kind-hearted themselves, whose fear is simply the fear that others will look on them with disapproval.

I don't understand the fear. For one thing, judgement is a good thing: it is an essential part of wisdom and the good life. Everyone should be trained in the faculty of judgment, so that they can make good decisions about what (and, indeed, whom) to admit into their lives, and in what proportions.

Furthermore, as the judgments of others about your internal states are necessarily made in ignorance, the judgments of others are a tool you can use for any honorable purpose. (Indeed, you can use it for quite dishonorable purposes, though I hope you will not.) People make judgments about me all the time, and I help make it easy for them. That their judgments are inaccurate does not bother me; in fact, it is to my advantage to be misjudged, since it leaves me with unsuspected capacities that can be brought to bear if necessary. For example if strangers judge me to be the kind of man best left alone, then I have the pleasure of being left alone. Their judgment is not to be feared, but engaged and used as one more tool in the pursuit of the good life.

I would urge you: Do not fear judgment, except that of God!


Anonymous said...

I seem to recall a certain text about "Judge Not, lest ye be judged" (Matt. 7:1, KJV). Aside from worrying about flipping pasta sauce on someone if the noodles fight back, I can't say that I've ever worried about someone judging me based on what I was or was not eating, drinking, wearing, or doing. I must have missed that part of the "Modern Chick" briefing.

I have worried about getting caught, but that's another matter entirely. :)


Grim said...

The citation from Matthew is certainly relevant to judgments about the souls of others; on the other hand, certainly the Gospels are not opposed to the idea of making judgments of other sorts. In the same book we read, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves," and also, "Ye shall know them by their fruits."

That's not only an admonition to engage in the good sort of judgment, but a standard to help you: not to look at the tree, which might fool you by its array of beauty; but rather to judge by the fruits the tree produces.

Texan99 said...

Harsh judgments don't usually bother me they get in the way of something I need. But who needs a date with a particular guy? Just find one who's not upset by the idea of a woman eating a steak. For that, you need to drop the disguise and quit eating the steak in the closet. (This is assuming that you don't secretly hate yourself for eating steak, which seems a hopeless state of affairs.)

And by "eating steak" I mean all the ways women think men think women shouldn't act or be. You want the guy to fall in love with some kind of ideal that's nothing really like you? What's the point?

Grim said...

Exactly. My wife, when I met her, she worked construction and carried a great big knife thrust through the front of her belt. I presume that most people who encountered her judged her in some way; and so did I, in my own way, and according to my own standards. It was thirteen years last June.

bthun said...

I'm afraid I'm awfully judgmental in many areas that relate to behavior and performance.

I think I've spent <insert WAG regarding time from life here> attempting to teach the chilluns how to behave in life, in public and in private, among both strangers and with friends, and -hangs head in shame- at the dinner table too.

I've also tried to teach the chilluns the essence of living as summed up by a character in an old movie, i.e., "I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them."

If asked and the situation warrants, I'm pretty frank WRT sharing my judgments/opinions on individual(s). Unless my regard for the individual(s) moves me to remain mute in a situation where a critique will yield no benefit for any involved.

Such is the knuckle-dragger code. So sue me.

MikeD said...

I have talked many times with my wife and she will ask me "what do you think he meant by that?" At which point I try to assure her "probably what that sentence means on the surface."

For the most part (exceptions always exist, even to this statement) men DO communicate differently than women. A man who does not like another man will not pay him false compliments (ex. "Oh, you're so BRAVE to wear that, I wouldn't be caught dead in plaid!"), generally he will either state outright that he does not like the other man, or will express it in no unclear terms in another manner (e.g. punches tent to be fairly unequivocal). But women (again, with the ever-present exceptions) tend to engage in less directly confrontational communication. Thus, sometimes, my wife expects men (including me) to be engaging in a female language pattern, whereas I tend to expect people to engage in more male patterns of communication. It has led to disagreements and hurt feelings in the past, so I strive to be as clear as possible. I try not to use "I don't care" when she asks what I think of something, as that can have a negative connotation for her and instead give the more clear and neutral "I have no preference either way."

And she and I have talked of how foolish I (and many men find it) that women on early dates think a man wants her to order a salad for dinner. My wife, like me, is a big fan of food that had a mommy that cried for it (i.e. meat), and it was in point of fact something that attracted me to her. A man who will negatively judge a woman for what she orders to eat is very odd. I can't say I know any men who have commented "I liked her, but she didn't get a salad for dinner!" Nor anything even remotely resembling that. I'm not saying it never happens, but I can honestly say I've never heard it... from a man. I HAVE heard other women judge a woman (and men) for what they eat.

Texan99 said...

I guess the general principle is: things aren't going to work out well between two people if they demand things of each other that they look down on as well. That approach will have us always chasing off half our potential mates because they don't fit our ostensible specs, and chasing off the other half because we treat people who do fit our specs as though they were defective for that very reason.

DL Sly said...

I have little use for petty judgements about what a person eats or how they dress (within reason -- the "People of Wal-Mart" notwithstanding). Fortunately, MH feels the same way.

bthun said...

"DL Sly said...

I have little use for petty judgements about what a person eats or how they dress (within reason -- the "People of Wal-Mart" notwithstanding). Fortunately, MH feels the same way.

Last night I consulted with my drinking buddy, Good Old Boy over the consumption of a bucket of alfalfa cubes and a few of brews.*

//Note to self: courtesy notwithstanding, pass on partaking of the alfalfa cubes next time. Too darned chewy...//

The Walkin' Hoss and I decided that we can agree, especially with your MH's position on the matter. I suspect the Walkin' Boss agrees too since she puts up with me...

* Running out of beer can be dangerous...