Men and Emotions, Experience versus Expression
There is a giant misconception that masculinity implies no emotions. That men are discouraged from or even taught not to experience their emotions. Let’s put a pin in that because I don’t want you to confuse the idea of experiencing emotions versus expressing them.
I have never seen a single parent tell their children to NOT have emotion. I have seen children told to “suck it up” or even the ever notorious “boys don’t cry.” However, I have never seen that used when there was a valid reason to cry. I have never seen a parent chastise their children for showing emotion when the child was injured or something was legitimately wrong.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are those bastard parents that waste, squander, and even abuse the privilege that is raising a child. I have an incredibly harsh view of what should be done with them. Being a parent is hard, but it is a great privilege to raise a child and help shape their lives. There are exceptions to every rule. The majority of men (since we have to talk in broad strokes) are not like that and while they may need to work on perfecting their communication with their children (as we all do) they love their kids.
We will start with “suck it up.” This sets off people who generally don’t have children. One of the things you have to teach to all children is with everything there are “degrees” of everything. For example, “on a scale of 1 – 10 how bad does it hurt?” How about the difference between a stern talking to or actually being in trouble? How about the difference between “whoops” and “OH SHIT!” to put it more plainly. One thing children have to learn is the appropriate amount of emotional reaction in relationship to the severity of the situation. Sometimes “suck it up” just adds perspective which we all have to develop.
“Boys don’t cry” is seen by people on the far side of the masculinity debate as a huge example of “toxic masculinity.” The thought seems to be that this builds into boys the idea that they must suppress their emotions. Unless you are one of the aforementioned “bastards,” it simply implies that it is not the appropriate expression of your emotions at this time. I have never seen a loving parent, specifically father chastise their son for crying while blood was pouring out of them or a bone was in a place it did not belong.
Please understand that, unless the world changes drastically in bad ways, men are counted on to have a cool head in complex situations. Men are taught (not always in the most perfect ways) that they must learn to control and process their emotions.
Let me be utterly clear. Men FEEL emotions. They are required to master them while women are allowed to let their emotions run any way they want. Our brains work differently, men and women biologically are wired differently. The evidence is clear and the research confirms it. It is a good thing.
I recently did an interview with author and speaker Christian De La Huerta and we both agree that men and women complement each other in the way we work. We agreed that masculine and feminine bring a balance to each other.
Men have always been counted on to lead in the most intense of situations where you CANNOT be ruled by what you FEEL. A soldier cannot respond to a situation based on their emotions; it can, will, and has cost people their lives when that line is crossed.
Men do feel emotions. Darth Vader, Bran Stark, Geralt of Rivia and Lurch all experienced emotions. It is a matter of how and when you express them. I wish the world would embrace this control that men exercise because it is the reason that there are not more physical conflicts. If men merely reacted with their emotions there would be a lot more assault charges when people said things out loud that they probably should not (keyboard warriors, you know who you are). Choosing to not be at the mercy of our emotions is what separates us from animals. Mastery of self is not denial of self. Men learn to master their emotions so they can process the information and make solid decisions in tough situations.
Don’t get me wrong, there are men who “bottle up” their emotions, but there are a great many women who also attempt this. This is not a uniquely male attribute, I have known many women who repressed their emotions; at times to great cost either physically or mentally.
Just because we do not express our emotions in the same way you do does not make us without emotion. Stop trying to “fix” us. If you continue to try to change the way we process our emotions then I am not sure you will like the world you create.
The Fallible Man
Be better tomorrow because of what you do today!