My mother believes that I don’t know how to have an argument. She thinks I am terrible at it. I believe, of course, that she is wrong and try to tell her this. It does not go well when I do. While my aim tends to be to make my point (“I know pretty well how to argue thankyouverymuch“) and defend it, hers is inevitably to end the exchange as quickly as possible, thus proving her point in the process. I am, after all, the one who is still making a fuss. And so I have given up. My mother belongs to a generation of women who must have grown up conflicted. On one hand their social landscape of the sixties demanded that they speak out and defend their rights; on the other, their upbringing prevented them from doing so. As a result, passive aggressiveness tends to be at the heart of communication, only equalled by their desire not to be either passive or aggressive. The problem is, it is difficult to argue with that.

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