We hear women and society talk about this a lot. It has always seemed to me like too much of an easy answer to explain men away, and it doesn’t cut it for me. I think gender experts and the media feel like it’s the best explanation, and I do think such thought-processing has caused some damage but I really think there's more to it than that.
Men are no different about feelings and expression…
People say men don’t express themselves and don’t talk about their feelings or what’s wrong, when in truth men are actually more vocal and open about it than most of us really realize, or choose to realize. Men are no different with feelings and emotions. The difference is, however, who and when we show those feelings and emotions. That’s not the same thing as not having them, or having it less.
Men have actually been telling us what’s going on and how they feel for a long time now, the problem is that most people just prefer to write it off as non-issues to them. I am utterly flabbergasted when I see guys needing to get something out about what bothers them, and people are just telling them it shouldn’t bother them or that they’re being babies. And then I will see a woman talk about the same thing that bothers her, and everyone is supportive and trying to be understanding. I myself have been in situations where I told people how I felt about something that any woman could feel the same way about, and was treated pretty differently for it.
Have we maybe just conditioned ourselves to not care about what guys are thinking or feeling because we think it seems weird for them to be vocal about it? I remember some time ago a girl here actually told me people don’t care about how men feel because they don’t want to deal with it, and that people feel better about dealing with women’s problems. She wasn’t saying that in a good way, she meant that she can understand why people don’t care. If this really is the case I gotta say it astounds me.
Women are hurting men too…
Although females like priding themselves on being good listeners and caring about people, or even building men up with the emotional support they say they give, that really is only true for who they choose to do it with and when, not as a general empathetic quality. Some women really are truly sensitive to men, but many others do have the attitude that a guy shouldn’t be bothered about pretty much anything. Too often what bothers many men is treated as something he should “get over” or not “take so seriously.” Men are supposed to “calm down,” “let it go,” or “grow up,” according to many women. Some have even told me it’s “gay” when their man really got emotional and needed to say something.
I think this is what probably bothers men more than anything about opening up, is getting the bad reception from women about it. People like thinking guys don’t talk and show feelings with each other, but they really don’t know a lot. While some of that is true, a lot of us men actually can be more open and emotional with each other than anyone else. I know I have before. This could be because guys know the things that can bother us, so we can confide in each other. But when women are acting like something shouldn’t be a big deal to us and minimizing it, that can be pretty disappointing.
Awhile ago I had a bad disagreement with one of the females in my circle here. It takes a LOT for anyone or anything on GaG to really get to me, but that situation with her irked me, yeah. And I needed to tell her about it. I wanted to know why she did that, especially if she’s claimed to be a friend and is in my circle. Her answer to my question was just to tell me I never answered her initial question, even though I did, but it wasn’t enough for her. For some reason I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t think it was a big deal and that I should just drop it, nor was I surprised when she told me she called up one of her friends to ask their opinion on the situation so she could have someone on her side. Once she had that she was ready to brush it off. And yet a week before that she messaged me about a situation that really bothered her, going into lengthy detail about it. To me it didn’t seem that big a deal, but I still tried to listen to the details and understand why it might’ve been upsetting to her. I’ve now learned something important since that experience with her.
One thing I’ve learned in life is that you have women who want men to be sensitive creatures but only if they can use the men as listeners and soothers, someone they can confide in and complain to, and even take their anger and stresses out on them. But when it’s the man with emotional needs and who even at times will have a need to address the way the woman is acting or treating him, his sensitivity then becomes an inconvenience for them. Once he really gets into to and gets it out, it seems to be that women just want it to be over. He is then “so sensitive” but meant in disdain, becomes a baby, and will sometimes she will tell him he has issues, and she will try to make herself the victim because he said what he felt and didn’t want to tolerate the way she was treating him.
Men don’t express everything for a reason…
Being a grown man now, and having had experiences with a lot of people throughout my life, I can understand how guys can choose not to at times. I myself have learned to do the same thing at times. I’ve always been something of an open emotional, expressive guy, to the point that it’s even made other people feel awkward and criticize me for it in my life. So eventually I learned how to reserve my emotions - and even my tears at times - for certain people and certain situations. And I think this is probably the case for a lot of other guys. Sometimes it is necessary to appear tough or firm.
It is true that this is what a lot of men do have to do. And it just may be a part of life for us that is neither good or bad, and I would say that guys shouldn't be emotional and expressive about just everything. People don't have a problem with women getting blubbery, and see it as normative for them to be dramatic. Guys doing the same thing just get their masculinity insulted. Women and the media can keep saying guys should show emotions all they want, but they’re not really ready to accept that. As I said early on, men have actually been showing us their feelings and what’s going on for quite some time, but others choose not to take it very seriously. Are there some things I think men can make too much of a big deal about? Sure, like some of the things some guys on GaG talk about, but I think the problems can go deeper than that.
The contradiction is funny to me. First we say that guys pretend everything is fine when it’s not, but then we say females tell us “I’m fine” when they're really not! So which one is it? Maybe men and women really aren’t so different? Another thing I’ve learned is that women are not always emotional either. As I was saying, they mostly reserve that for who they want, when they want, and on what conditions. Women feel they need to trust somebody before they open up to them no less than men do, so why is it okay if a woman doesn’t want to talk about everything that’s bothering her, but it’s an emotional dysfunction if guys don’t want to?
People are doing damage...
Society and the media have created double standards about gender, expression, and emotion. When a woman has a need to scream, shout, and be heard, it’s viewed as release and expression. When a man has the same need, it’s seen as abuse and aggression. Sometimes a woman is called a “bitch” for doing it, but overall we tend to regard it as normal emotional behavior for her as a woman. When a woman explodes on her kids or the important people in her life, it’s because she’s reached her limit, is overwhelmed or has emotional issues - especially if she is a single mother, and we’re supposed to try to understand this and recognize that this may be the reason for why she is the way she is. When a man does it, it’s because he has no self-control, won’t “ask for help,” bottling everything up and taking it out on others, or is just being an “asshole.” Any emotional issues he may have is brought into consideration from time to time, but still not seen as big as a cause for aggression as it’s said to be in women.
Even down to violence we set the rules. When men snap from being under pressure and go on a rampage, it’s because he is emotionally weak and failed to form a “support group” for himself like women are said to do. But when women react in violence and fury, it’s because she has emotional hurt and inner issues from some trauma that should be understood, and because she “just couldn’t take it anymore.” So why didn’t she form a support group? We’ll come up with excuses left and right for why women react in aggressive emotion because there has to be a reason, because “by nature women are more gentle and not as violent as men.” It becomes understandable for a woman to, but for a man it’s because of “testosterone” and not controlling himself.
I think we do damage to men with all this. This is what frustrates many of us. Men want to be understood, and society would rather blame men than to blame itself for why/when men are silent. People would rather give men “tough love” because we think they can take it or are supposed to, than to actually want to hear men. Sometimes tough love is a good thing, and I’ve both given it and received it, and did learn from it, but it’s not the answer for everything. When men are hurting or angry they don’t want to be served up counter-perspectives, second guesses, or rebuttals, and the last thing they want is to be told they’re “whining” or to have their feelings minimized. These are the problems that make hurting men just lose it and give up. As a society we’re asking them to open up, seek help, go to friends, and to put away their “male pride,” yet we’re not exactly interested in listening at the same time.