Most people roll their eyes when someone tells them something ludicrous or when they find a person low-key annoying and can’t stand a thing he/she is saying. The ocular gesture, according to psychologists, has been an act of dominance and a less overt way of acting out aggression particularly among women.
But evolutionary psychologists would suggest that passive-aggressive eye-rolling isn’t just an act of contempt among oppressed teens facing total lack of autonomy — it was a way of survival back when women had no means (and right) to defend themselves yet.
“It’s a lower-risk aggression strategy. Evolutionary psychologists think that women use low-risk aggressive strategies over high-risk aggression strategies because, historically, women have needed to survive for our offspring to survive,” says Dr. Tracy Vaillancourt, a professor at the University of Ottawa, in a 2013 study about women’s use of indirect aggression.
Unlike men who could easily engage in a physical fight and risk death, women have historically preferred a more subtle way of letting other people know they are the “baddest bitch” in town. Vaillancourt explains that women don’t typically use verbal and physical aggression for many reasons — one of them being the pressure involved in the situation.
But as things evolved and women got tired of taking crap from other people, they learned how to prove females are strong as hell and say “time’s up” to social issues like sexual harassment. Women sure know now how to give more than just an eye roll to tell the world that they’re too tired to give a f*ck.
Eye roll isn’t just a teenage tantrum, it’s a universal statement and we survived using it.