Emotions: Threat or Menace?

Dozens of posts on this blog so far, and we haven’t talked directly about what I see as the most pervasively damaging issue affecting men in our culture. It’s the one at the root of many of the other problems we suffer, and is perhaps the most intransigent and resistant to change.

So yeah. Let’s talk about the fact that men aren’t allowed to have a full emotional range.

Yes, okay, “allowed” may be putting it strongly, but I think we here are all hip enough to know what I mean. We can agree that men in our culture are… let’s say “strongly discouraged” from experiencing or expressing most emotions.

The “boys don’t cry” meme is incredibly pervasive, and the most obvious manifestation of this appalling phenomenon. As seen in every action movie ever (and we’re told action movies are the epitome of male values), a Real Man has only two stages of grief. The Big No:

Wolverine screaming up at the sky, no sense of irony whatsoever

And then FURIOUS VENGEANCE:

Wolverine snarling and flexing... of course.

The furious vengeance, of course, is driven by the one emotion men are required to have: anger. Anger is manly, it’s motivation, it’s what a Real Man is supposed to feel, especially if someone has touched his stuff. (For “stuff” read “women”.) In many, many situations, lack of sufficient anger is evidence of failure to perform masculinity. Don’t think anger is the healthiest emotional response to a situation? Tough shit, penis-boy, it’s what you’re allowed.

Of course, the substitution of anger for grief is about more than the shamefully small amount I was able to cry over my mother’s death. (Over my lifetime, I may have spent more time choked up by the “Marseillaise” scene in Casablanca. And no, you don’t have to tell me how appalling that is; I’m way ahead of you.) It’s about the obsession with avoiding weakness.

A man is strong, we are told, and emotions are weak. They’re weak because they represent vulnerability, and “vulnerability” is synonymous with “weakness” when you’re talking about being protected.

Death Star vent, with torpedos!

You see? You see what happens when you have feelings?

And men, naturally, must always be protected, so that means that all feelings of fear, sadness, loss, regret, love, pain, weakness, uncertainty, and damn near everything else must be repressed. Expressing any of these is a failure to sufficiently perform masculinity, and this will be enforced. All you’re allowed to feel are anger and, if you must, wry detachment.

Tim Roth crying, with wedding ring

Wrong.

Sean Connery Bond, no wedding ring

Right.

It may be impossible to calculate how much damage this repression does to men. Add up all the suicides, the stress-induced heart attacks, the alcohol-induced liver damage, and the deaths in fights between guys who weren’t allowed to not be angry, and all you’ve done is scratch the direct mortality rate. The subtler forms of damage, the loneliness, the uncommunicative relationships, the desperation, the repressed pain and regret and fear that OMG NO ONE MUST EVER KNOW ABOUT… there’s no way to measure all that. There’s no way to tell when someone is suffering in silence.

Sure, we have clichés like “real men aren’t afraid to cry”, but somehow those never quite get the traction of “Chuck Norris’s tears cure cancer, too bad he never cries”, do they? As often as we’re told that it’s okay to show our emotions, that never sinks in as well as all the times we’re told that no, it’s really not okay.

Guys, back me up on this. Picture two guys in a painful situation, and the first guy is openly showing his pain and vulnerability, and the second guy is sitting there stoically, one eyebrow cocked. Notice how you can’t help feeling that the second guy somehow won. Hell, I feel that way, and I know that’s insane. I’m the guy writing this post about how insane it is, and I still can’t disentangle that notion from my psyche.

I don’t know how to reverse this meme. Seriously, picture some kind of “It Gets Better” project where men, the manliest men available, openly confess their deepest pain and vulnerability in YouTube videos. Got it? Right, now picture the comments on those YouTube videos.

If you’re attempting to recoil from your own brain in horror right now, you’re picturing the comments correctly. That’s a hint of how deep and weird this problem is.

What have been some of your experiences with emotional repression or expression? What other problems arise from this root issue? What do you think can be done? This isn’t a strictly-moderated thread, but if you have some evo-psych theory about how cavemen evolved not to have emotions because saber-toothed tigers can smell tears, it would be nice if you’d spare us.

About noahbrand

Noah Brand is a mysterious figure with a very nice hat.
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177 Responses to Emotions: Threat or Menace?

  1. Clarence says:

    I’ll agree it’s fucked up in the extreme form it takes, esp. in our society.
    But I do think its a mixture of innateness and socialization. I really don’t expect men to want to cry as much on average, as a female does. But it would be nice if we were socially allowed more leeway than only being able to cry at funerals or, once in a great while at a great victory or great loss.
    I think also you understate the allowed emotions a little. Men are allowed to be HAPPY. We just have to do it in a “manly” way which is almost as socially policed as sadness is. So we can be angry, stoic, disinterested, or happy (within limits) but most men are only socially allowed to cry at funerals of close loved ones, or maybe Fido.

    Yeah it’s pretty sick. On the battlefield it makes sense to suppress emotions, that sort of thing and SOME practice of it might even be useful for everyone male or female. Heck, meditation can help. But day to day it’s not a battlefield and this sort of stuff is really messed up.

  2. Emmeline says:

    You mentioned youtube comments and I immediately flashed back to something that pissed me off. On TV Tropes there’s Troper Tales. Now true, a lot of these are sociopathic ego-strokers who just want attention, but there was “Abuse Is Okay When It’s Female On Male” (people talking about their experiences where others believed this, not enforcing the trope). I even trimmed some of the “if any girl tries this on me I’ll break her face” crap. Now, there’s a youtube show where dumb entries get read out in a silly voice and that page got an episode. The comments were basically “they’re all lying”, “stop whining” and my personal favorite: “these guys are probably all wanking to tsunderes instead”. A few weeks later, the page was deleted for sympathy-baiting. It depressed the hell out of me.

  3. bmmg39 says:

    You’re absolutely right. It’s disgusting that men and boys are told they must continue to internalize and suppress their feelings (until they can’t take it anymore, of course, and drive off a cliff). And I’m sick of the backlash against men crying (or even mentioning that they have emotions), too. I’m sick of the opinion columnists and comedians pining for the “Days of Real Men.”

    My belated condolences to you, as well, on the loss of your mother.

  4. Laura says:

    “I really don’t expect men to want to cry as much on average, as a female does.”

    I don’t ever want to cry. I do on occasion but I never want to.

    I have a male coworker in his 60s. He tears up on occasion talking about stuff, like today when he addressed the group about a charitable endeavor the company is supporting. Nobody acted like it bothered them; he didn’t act like it bothered him either, really.

    Sometimes I think people expend a bit too much energy worrying about other people’s expectations of them, including those of complete strangers. If you want to cry, cry. What are other people going to do, revoke your membership in the human race? Do your part to tear down the stereotype. Because ultimately that is where change is going to come from if it comes. I can give you permission to show emotions all day long but until you internalize that it’s your party and you’ll cry if you want to, it won’t do any good.

  5. What a brilliant post! I’ve seen my father repress his feelings out of a weird sense that it’s his duty to protect his children by doing it. When his own father died, he was crushed but never revealed it. Instead, he just walked around whistling like nothing happened. And then he had a stroke.

    This is the price that men pay for the horrible idea that having emotions and showing them to others is somehow emasculating.

  6. Noah, posts like this are the reason you’re quickly becoming my favorite author on NSWATM.

    Sentiments like you’ve expressed here have been expressed before – that may be true – but saying this again and again will do no harm: men need to be told by the society that it crying makes you no less of a man.

    No, seriously.

    Bonus kudos for you for including the Chuck Norris fact.

  7. Oh God, can we get an edit button please?

  8. James Claims says:

    It does more damage than just stifling it in the normal population. It also causes tons of stigma for men with bipolar, major depressive disorder, or any other kind of mood disorder. It’s often viewed not just as some sort of scare illness, but also is combined with a “what is wrong with you, pull it together” kind of mentality. Having a mood disorder is seen as something that shouldn’t be what manly men have, so it often gets repressed even further. Help isn’t sought and support from friends is neglected. This idea of manly men is actually dangerous in these cases because it can prevent men from getting real help that they need, all because they’re supposed to not have those feelings. And it’s sad to think that people might actually die from not getting diagnosed and treated for something that happens to millions of people, all because of this stupid trope.

  9. noahbrand says:

    @EE: Real men don’t need edit buttons! Suck it up and deal, you sissy!

    Actually, I’m not sure what even needs editing in your comment. 🙂

  10. Lynet says:

    This is one reason why it really bothers me when people make fun of John Boehner for crying. Disagree with his political actions all you like, but do we really have to have the gender policing?

    It’s also an interesting aspect of my relationship with my boyfriend. He’s capable of feeling sad and anxious without being angry, but he always needs a reason, by which he means a justification. It’s not enough for him to just feel whatever he feels. Sometimes I think there’s this little table in his head of acceptable justifications for negative emotions, and he has to identify one of those before he can feel allowed to feel unhappy.

  11. Laura says:

    “… he always needs a reason, by which he means a justification. It’s not enough for him to just feel whatever he feels.”

    Several years ago my dad’s cousin, a lifelong friend, died after an illness. Not long after that his cat kicked the bucket. He found himself crying while he was burying her, and he told my mom that it must be kind of a delayed reaction from his cousin dying. And it might have been, but, “Your cat died,” she said. “Go ahead and cry.”

  12. typhonblue says:

    Before I finish this article I just want to say something.

    Thanks for the bait and switch. I have one of those favorite websites tile startup for safari and when I clicked on this link I thought it was lolcats. I continued to think it was lolcats for about three paragraphs. ‘Wow,’ thought I, ‘lolcats is starting to explore social pressures on men? Wait…’

  13. Brian says:

    @Typhon: LOL. Literally.

  14. Toysoldier says:

    You might not want to hear it, but it is true. Men who learned to control their emotions likely made better hunters. The same goes for soldiers, leaders, and even athletes. If you look at ancient stories, the men who wallowed in their emotions, including anger, were not considered real men and were usually quite useless. The real men were those who worked through their pain, grief, love, and passions and controlled emotions rather than letting their emotions control them.

    In fiction, men can show emotion as long as they do something. Wolverine cries and mourns his woman’s death, and then he goes to do something. Batman mourns his parents murder, and then does something. I think Lord of the Rings is the best modern example of this. In Fellowship, right after Gandalf dies the Fellowship stops to mourn him. Even supermanly Boromir wants the hobbits to get a chance to grieve “for pity’s sake.” However, Frodo walks off caught up in his grief and his decision to go on alone, and Aragorn feels the pain (probably more than anyone), but pushes everyone to keep moving. They control their emotions enough to keep going on. This is what society expects men to do, and matches what most men like to do: solve their own problems.

    Unfortunately, the concept of controlling emotions led to the belief that men should have no emotion. This bastardization is actually quite recent in the West, and likely results from the masculine ideal that got influenced by several generations of men returning from war.

    I think the best to break the stoic meme is to stop placing expectations on men and boys one way or the other. I am far more annoyed by people telling to “let it all out” than people telling to “keep inside.” Everyone does not need or want to publicly show emotion. As for the potential comments on Youtube, none of them would have the balls to actually say anything to a man who could destroy them. The policing is really just them protecting onto others.

  15. typhonblue says:

    One very negative effect of the emotional castration of men is that, as a society, it renders male suffering acceptable.

    Angry victims get no sympathy.

  16. Thomas says:

    About three years ago within roughly two weeks my grandma died, my father had a heart-attack and was lying in a medical induced coma and my uncle had devastating car accident. It’s almost a miracle that my father and uncle are fine today, but at this time it looked pretty bad for both of them.

    I have two sister and two female cousins on my mother’s side. So suddenly, I was “the man in the house”. What I heard a lot from older relatives and friends of my family was something like: “You have to be strong for your mother, aunt, sisters, family”. The thing is, I’m certainly not the strongest person in my family, but I’m male. My mom and sisters were great and together we handled the situation well. But still the pressure was on me. Everyone else expected from me to be calm and rational. The scary part, for me, is that I was calm and rational. I felt nothing. I was standing at the open grave of my beloved grandmother, meanwhile my father and uncle were in the intensive care unit of two hospitals and I felt noting.

    For a while I was getting drunk regularly, often at the suggestion of male friends. Only drunk I was able to show grief and despair. I know getting drunk to be able to show emotions is such a stupid coping mechanism, but I’ve often suggested the same to my friends if they had to deal with problems. In the end, I’m fine. But it would be nice if men could be vulnerable and heart-broken and sad without anyone policing their masculinity.

    As a side note, I can totally relate to Noah about the Casablanca thing. I’ve never seen Casablanca, but I certainly cried more in my life over cheesy movies than over real-life misery.

  17. aliarasthedaydreamer says:

    @Toysoldier: I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expecting people of both genders to deal with and get through their emotional rough patches, but, as you point out, that’s not what we have. What we have is more of a situation in which half the population just don’t get to cop to having emotional rough patches, much less get through them.

    And yeah, our good friends the ancient Greeks had a lot to say about uncontrolled emotions. See: lots of tragedies, the Iliad (arguably entirely about Achilles getting really, really pissed).

  18. marc2020 says:

    @Toysoldier but surly the only sure fire way to bring your emotions under control is to be allowed to express them in the first place and work through them which is an avenue that is denied to men.

    It was often thought that men were better at dealing with stressful situations such as the break up of a relationship because they can use man logic to get through it and not all hysterical like those woman creatures.

    However research has shown that because its more culturally acceptable for women to express there emotions they have a better time dealing with them because they have a support network of friends, relatives and co workers that they can vent to and seek mutual support from in order to help get there emotions under control . Where as men are pretty much told “well you’re on your own now pal.”

    I think that’s kind of messed up.

    @typhonblue Yes thank you

  19. Druk says:

    @noahbrand: Where you say “men must be protected”, I think you mean to say “men must be protectors (of women)”. I mean, how can you be a protector of others if you can’t even control your own “weakness”?

  20. Souldiver says:

    Not so long ago, Boyfriend told me that when his grandmother (mother of his father) died, his dad was so broken that he had to take the “man of the house” role. He told me how he’d act all rational and strong and how after he’d shut himself his bedroom crying all night. He told me he had to do this for his mother and sisters. He was 14 years old.
    I can only think as this as an awful attitude towards him from the adults (males and females) of his family. No person should be forced to repress zir’s emotions, to swallow the sadness and lock inside a room feeling ashamed and wrong for feeling something else than stoic acceptance. Also, I find it worse when it’s done to a kid (or a young teenager), simply because they don’t have the tools to fight that burden, and their own insecurities and blind trust of adults convince them that “NO, bois don’t cry, that’s STUPID, tears make you STUPID”.

  21. Danny says:

    Ah the emotions. What amazes me is that society forces men and boys to follow the script of what emotions are “allowed” and when we do we get punished for it. A guy bottles up his emotions and they end up coming out in the form of some violence people are right there to call him a brute. (Like TB said above about abuse against males being acceptable. People didn’t want to listen to Little Johnny when he was abused as a child by his parent but when Johnny grows up and abuses his wife all of a sudden people are tripping over themselves to label him a brute and his past trauma means nothing, unlike female abusers where people dig for some past trauma to say “that’s what made her do it”)

    Of course, the substitution of anger for grief is about more than the shamefully small amount I was able to cry over my mother’s death. (Over my lifetime, I may have spent more time choked up by the “Marseillaise” scene in Casablanca. And no, you don’t have to tell me how appalling that is; I’m way ahead of you.) It’s about the obsession with avoiding weakness.
    I don’t know if its the avoidance of weakness that caused it (in fact I’m willing to bet its not in my case) but I do know that there exists a point that once you cross it you just go emotionally dead on the inside. And by emotionally dead I mean this, my mother died seven years ago and I’m the one and only person in my entire family that’s managed to not shed a single tear over it.

  22. Right on. When men get beat up for being too vulnerable and women get beat up for being insufficiently vulnerable, everybody loses.

    Also, I really really hate the confusion of “I feel safe with you so I will show you my emotions now” with “my emotions are totally out of control and running my life!!!!eleventy!11!!” Although out of control emotions need to be expressed and dealt with and no one should feel shame about them, there is a tendency to conflate any emotional expression with being out of control (this applies to women, in my experience, as well as men, although we are automatically classified as out-of-control because DUH OVARIES, and men are out-of-control because OMG EMOTIONS!!!)

  23. Sagredo says:

    Picture two guys in a painful situation, and the first guy is openly showing his pain and vulnerability, and the second guy is sitting there stoically, one eyebrow cocked.

    I think I like the second guy actually. Maybe he has, like the Stoics, come to the conclusion that virtue alone is sufficient for happiness. Or maybe he’s just found his inner calm even in the face of grief. Maybe he’s discovered that when the universe laughs at you, you might as well laugh along.

  24. Hugh Ristik says:

    I liked this post. I think “emo bashing” towards men is an excellent example of misandry. Katy Perry’s song Ur So Gay wins the prize for the category of hate. Some lyrics:

    I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf
    While jacking off listening to Mozart
    You bitch and moan about LA
    […]
    You’re so indie rock it’s almost an art
    You need SPF 45 just to stay alive

    Ah yes, the stereotype that men with appropriate American masculinity must weather the sun.

    You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys

    Using “gay” as an insult. Classy.

    You’re so sad maybe you should buy a happy meal

    Yay, emotion-shaming. Being emotional is associated with all these other “flaws.”

    You’re so skinny you should really Super Size the deal

    Because homophobia and emotion-shaming wasn’t enough, Perry adds body image.

    I can’t believe I fell in love with someone that wears more makeup than…

    As yes, makeup, another way that men can fall short of hegemonic masculinity.

    You walk around like you’re oh so debonair
    You pull ‘em down and there’s really nothing there

    And… cock-shaming.

    This song is like a checklist of masculine policing. The guy Perry is describing sounds somewhat insufferable, but I don’t think it justifies the level of hatred in this song… and if she was dating a guy like this while despising him, you have to wonder what that says about her.

  25. Feckless says:

    It is an issue I really only have with crying….there does not seem to be another emotion I am having “trouble” with. But that one hits close to home. Funeral, really not a problem. I am the kind of guy that cries during arguments with a loved one. Once she started making fun about me because of that I really tried hard to suppress it when I am around her. Which doesn’t only include arguing but watching movies for example…this sucks really….but apart from crying, not much of a problems.

    There was the “great” female survey recently. An online survey for cosmo readers I believe ( http://www.askmen.com/specials/great_female_survey ). Q49: DO YOU THINK IT’S EVERY OK FOR EVERY MEN TO CRY?

    Answers:
    Yes, they shouldn’t be afraid to show their emotions. (73%)
    Yes, but only in response to tragedies like the death of a loved one. (26%)
    No, never (1%)

    Not sure how this translates into the general public (men might judge other crying men even harsher), but well it seems to me it gets better….I hope so….I does get better right?

  26. jnakabb says:

    Left of field here, but sorrow/grief aren’t the only emotions men miss out on. Men have been shown to laugh half as frequently as women (I think the stats were also for a tenth and much as a child). So much for laughter being the best medicine – no wonder so many of us are stressed !

    As for tears – I regularly tear up when considering the content of news articles about how cruel we can be to one another, I cried when telling my wife about the “Fukushima 50”, towards the end of The Lake House and when I had one of our cats put down (and felt a heel for not having expressed anywhere near as much emotion at a recent loss while I was “holding things together” for the family).

  27. TomeWyrm says:

    I very rarely express emotions outwardly in public. That’s got more to do with the abuse I suffered throughout my school years, than simply being a man though. Thick skin and emotional walls, if I don’t feel anything, they can’t hurt me with my emotions.

  28. Sam says:

    I agree that it’s “vulnerability”/weakness that is at the core of the issue. I wouldn’t say that it’s *always* necessary to hide emotions, or particulary emotions in order to appear strong when one isn’t. I would also say that *being vulnerable* is also a signal of strength in certain situations, but finding the right way to be vulnerable with the right person *at the right time* in the mating dance is certainly an art form in its own right. The whole problem is, in my opinion, that, while women seem to require us (men) to be vulnerable (with *them*, not others), they will also “punish” us (men) for being vulnerable in a way that does no longer allow us to perform the playful masculine dominance that they (meaning *most of the women I know*, which is my base sample) deem necessary for any sexual attraction.

    Demonstrate too much vulnerabilty too early and you’re out of the “sexual attraction” realm, demonstrate too little too late, and she won’t consider you “relationship material”.

    It’s tricky.

  29. Druk says:

    Oh another thing: while it is being increasingly accepted as “OK” for a man to show strong emotion when in the midst of emotional hardship, it’s still no where close to OK for a man to show vulnerability in the face of physical pain.

  30. Motley says:

    Demonstrate too much vulnerability too early and you’re out of the “sexual attraction” realm, demonstrate too little too late, and she won’t consider you “relationship material”.

    It’s tricky.

    I’ll say. Though, so far, I’ve found that (providentially) it’s much more advantageous going with the latter than the former. That probably says something about the extent of the ingrained cultural preference.

  31. Jim says:

    “You might not want to hear it, but it is true. Men who learned to control their emotions likely made better hunters. The same goes for soldiers, leaders, and even athletes. …”

    TS, what matters in those situations is not repressing your emotions but deferring them unitl the crisis has passed. For instances the male displays of grief at military(-only) memorial services is pretty intense, and the ceremonial touches like the display of the soldier’s boots, rifle and dogtags hanging from it are an absolute gut-punch to the people there, for whom those symbols resonate very deeply. Passing the flag to the next-of-kin is always a pretty laden moment too.

    The displays are open but they are not overwhelming. It’s one thing to feel emotion; it’s something different to be driven by it. That should not be a difference between male and female, but it is the difference between human and animal.

    Culture and nurture matter here, but a lot of it is just different kinds of neurotypicality. My mother and I happen to defer our emotions until later while my father and ex-wife happened not to. My mother and I are a lot more efficient in crises, and so far she is out living my father, who just died. (I think smoking more than anything was the culprit, mre than emotional repression, but who knows.)

    Speaking of culture, this post made me think of how male grief is celebrated and showcased in Italian opera and of how much the stiff upper lip in Anglo culture across the anglosphere is an expression of power in this culture. And parallel to this, I think the demonization of sexual desire in Anglo culture is about seeing desire as a weakness, rather than as a defilement as it seems to be in Italian culture.

  32. glyphos says:

    In a similar way to TomeWyrm, i mostly became rather emotionless and thick skinned due to various abuse at school. So it became more of a defense mechanism than a pressure to keep everything inside, that way i couldn’t be hurt. But then the problem became the few times when i wanted to express myself, like when one of my closest friends and i had an enormous falling out, or when my grandmother died, and people would look at me disgusted because i would show what i really felt, rather than just continuing to be “fine” like i always was. And it has all worked to steadily push me farther away from people. which begins to hurt, especially for a person who had always, from the start, been a quiet, rather introverted, person. The times i do want to talk or express how i feel, it just gets thrown back in my face.

  33. Pingback: Emotions: Threat or Menace? (via No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?) « Emotional Exhibitionism

  34. Camilla says:

    You have a larger point. But crying in response to for frustration/embarrassment/fear or tear-jerker books/movies, but not in response to bereavement (however close) is within the normal range for women as well as men. That bereaved people cry, and that tears measure your love, is an unrealistic expectation placed on bereaved people.

  35. Laura says:

    “But then the problem became the few times when i wanted to express myself, like when one of my closest friends and i had an enormous falling out, or when my grandmother died, and people would look at me disgusted because i would show what i really felt, rather than just continuing to be “fine” like i always was.”

    Glyphos, you are the expert on your own experiences, of course. I would never tell a person that they didn’t see what they say they saw, didn’t hear what they say they heard, etc. You were there and I wasn’t. But. I have seen people, especially when their judgment is clouded by strong emotions like grief, read into other people’s facial expressions and body language things that were just not there. Sometimes they see things they suppose other people are thinking, or they actually see things they themselves are thinking mirrored back.

    And I wonder if that’s what is behind some of the “men aren’t allowed” stuff. People may look at you blankly because they are fishing for something to say, they want to show concern and can’t think how to do it, not because they are nonplused because you are showing emotion you aren’t supposed to.

    Now if they come right out and say “real men don’t cry” that’s a different story. Then you can tell them to go to hell with a clear conscience and get on with your life.

  36. Jim says:

    “I very rarely express emotions outwardly in public. That’s got more to do with the abuse I suffered throughout my school years, than simply being a man though. ”

    Some people attribute a lot of Obama’s almost superhuman patience to exactly this. I don’t like to show much emotion public just because it feels like any other form of nakedness.

    Laura, I think you can distinguish between looks of disgust and a blank face of a person looking for something to say not matter what your state of mind is. Reading faces is pretty deeply built in.

    ” But crying in response to for frustration/embarrassment/fear or tear-jerker books/movies, but not in response to bereavement (however close) is within the normal range for women as well as men. ”

    In my family, both sides, either men or women crying at embarrassment or frustration weould just have been considered childish, and selfish. It wasn’t gendered. It was about levels of maturity.

    “That bereaved people cry, and that tears measure your love, is an unrealistic expectation placed on bereaved people.”

    Yeah. This one is tacky as hell. Expecting people to put on a show for the gallery is tacky as shit.

  37. Laura says:

    “Laura, I think you can distinguish between looks of disgust and a blank face of a person looking for something to say not matter what your state of mind is. Reading faces is pretty deeply built in.”

    People’s ability to do this varies from one person to another. One person’s ability to do this varies depending on that person’s emotional state.

  38. noahbrand says:

    Blahg, too many comments to reply to specifically.

    It seems like a lot of folks are focusing specifically on the emotion of grief; probably my fault for leaning on it a lot in the OP. Thing is, there’s a lot more to the spectrum of emotion that men aren’t permitted. jnakabb pointed out that men seem to suppress their laughter and joy too much, and Druk pointed out that physical pain is something else men are expected to pretend doesn’t hurt. (On that note, I am really tempted to do another post on vulnerability and male sexual submission, but that’s another story.)

    The fact is, grief is just one obvious emotion that men are supposed to somehow swallow. It’s not like we get a lot of support if we express disappointment, frustration, loneliness, fear, or doubt. No, we have to swallow those too. Hell, even positive emotions aren’t allowed. Guys get mocked if they’re too expressive about being in love with someone, or if they get too excited about something… hell, how many movie scenes have you seen where a guy tries to express how much he cares about his friends, and it turns into a gay joke?

  39. theLaplaceDemon says:

    Not to be an ass, but Clarence and Toysoldier – what is your evidence for innateness? Do you have a reference for that?

    Noah – this was a really, really fantastic post. I’m also pretty sure that I have also internalized some of those biases, and I’m really bothered by it :-/

    What DO we do to combat this? For society, or just ourselves?

  40. My biggest complaint comes from being pressured not to show excitement. Really, the only way for a man to be “excited” about something is to thrust a fist in the air and go “YEAH!” with a gutteral roar.

    I just want to be able to clap my hands together and say “Oh yay!” when I find out a video game I’ve been looking forward to is being released on time – or when a new brewery opens in my city.

  41. OrangeYouGlad says:

    Men and women can stop telling men they’re weak, less of a man, or queer whenever he shows emotion; especially in front of young boys/men who are just learning what it means to “be a man” in our society. Men can demonstrate this by being unafraid to emote at appropriate times (after all, you can tell someone it is okay to show emotion but if you never do yourself they’ll pick up on that discrepancy).

    @Laura – Does second guessing his ability to read emotions do any good here? That men are told to repress their emotions is obviously common, it isn’t imaginary, (almost) every man here has said they’ve felt this to some degree and it isn’t all stemming from them sitting around worrying about whether people do not want them to emote and simply reading it into where it doesn’t exist (after all, why would they have a worry about what people thought of their emotions if they’d never been given cause to worry?) Regardless of whether glyph can read emotion while grieving the problem exists and it isn’t due to men’s delusions.

  42. OrangeYouGlad says:

    Oh, why isn’t there an edit button? Commenting again to say I agree with easilyenthused, sometimes (okay, rarely hardly ever) that gutteral roar thing works for me but other times it’s jut not really the mode of expression I am looking for.

  43. Pteryxx says:

    I watch Deadliest Catch (yeah, that Alaskan crab-fishing show) and one reason is that I want to study how emotional men act, so that I have models for my own behavior. Yes, they’re often tough and macho and they haze each other; but they also laugh and cheer and play practical jokes, show frustration and uncertainty and pain, talk about how much they love and miss their families and shed tears over their photographs. Last year when Capt. Phil was dying, it was more obvious than ever how much he and his two sons loved each other. I watched those episodes over and over, telling myself, “This is how a real man acts. This is how a real father behaves.”

  44. Laura says:

    “@Laura – Does second guessing his ability to read emotions do any good here? ”

    Me second guessing won’t. His might.

    “That men are told to repress their emotions …”

    It would be good if we could drop the passive voice here. Who is telling men to repress their emotions and why are men giving whoever that is the power to make them miserable?

  45. PsyConomics says:

    @Laura

    It varies a little from situation to situation. One can be (relatively) safe when saying that, in general, society tells men to repress certain emotions/expression of certain emotions. In specific situations, this can happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes men (friends, bosses, teachers, parents) tell other men to “stop whining” or “man up.” Sometimes women (girlfriends, wives, friends) do it too.

    As a specific example:
    I remember once, back in college, I had done really poorly on a math test and it utterly devastated me. I was laying down in my dorm room sulking/sobbing when my girlfriend at the time came over and commented (matter-of-factly), “I don’t like to see my man cry, feel better.”

    I am sure there are plenty of other stories like this, but this only illustrates one of many potential mechanisms by which a man might be told to not express emotions.

  46. Toysoldier says:

    Not to be an ass, but Clarence and Toysoldier – what is your evidence for innateness? Do you have a reference for that?

    I recall a study that aired on the Discovery channel years ago in which two toddlers, a boy and a girl, were placed in a room with their mothers. The mothers then left, and blocked the toddlers’ way with a gate. The girl just cried. The boy cried, but also tried to get out. I do not think males innately control their emotions. It is something we are taught or learn. However, I do not think controlling one’s emotions is necessarily a bad thing. It serves a purpose, which is why you find so many stories about controlling emotions.

    The problem is that as a society we want men to stay stoic, yet we ask so much of men. We do not give men any chance to cope with anything, and that eventually leads to problems, which we then chastise men for having. Worse, the very people demanding that men show more emotion lambaste men who show too much. It is a classic “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario.

  47. Paul says:

    Laura:
    “It would be good if we could drop the passive voice here. Who is telling men to repress their emotions and why are men giving whoever that is the power to make them miserable?”

    Probably the same people who tell women they need to be a size 0.

    for the mos part nobody is telling “Men” these things. These things are really being told to boys, boys who do not have the ability to not “give power” to them. And by the time those boys do get old enough to be able to do that, it’s to late. The part of us that might have been able to show proper emotion has been completely atrophied.

  48. theLaplaceDemon says:

    @Toysoldier – Socialization starts well before children are toddlers, so that doesn’t really say much about innateness 🙂

    I agree that controlling emotions is a good thing, but (as you basically said) there is a difference between “time and a place” and “NEVER AT ALL YOU MUST BE MANLY.”

  49. Clarence says:

    TheLaplaceDemon:

    One can make a bit too much of “pre-verbal” socialization. Esp. since many babies and small tots up to about two don’t get much television or advertising socialization. They do get to model mommy or daddy but I suspect what will end up killing some of this socialization BS will be when we fully understand how humans LEARN. This will establish probably age limits TO learning fora “normal IQ ” babby /toddler and thus place limits on socialization theories. Babies and small tots seem to mostly be about learning their immediate environment and how to handle such things as movement.

  50. estelendur says:

    Clarence: The other thing babies are doing is paying really close attention (on a subconscious level) to every scrap of linguistic information that drifts past their ears. Nonverbal (tonal and behavioral) cues play a substantial part in language-learning. So in a sense, they’re learning their immediate environment, but part of that is paying attention to the sociolinguistic cues in every piece of interaction going on in their immediate environment, and not just direct interaction.

    On average, men’s speech is more monotonal than women’s. On average, emotional speech is less monotonal than emotional speech. So it is entirely possible that your average two-year-old will have learned that women display more emotion than men, on some level.

    Furthermore, all babies and small toddlers have to do is learn, and learn everything they can. Two or three years is probably enough time – heck, one year of being mobile is probably enough time – to learn that girls can sit there and cry, while boys should do something about it, even if nobody has had that conscious thought.

  51. Merk says:

    “This isn’t a strictly-moderated thread, but if you have some evo-psych theory about how cavemen evolved not to have emotions because saber-toothed tigers can smell tears, it would be nice if you’d spare us.”

    This blog is now bookmarked.

  52. IDiom says:

    I have to agree with @noahbrand, overt and expressive happiness/mirth/pleasure is highly moderated. When I consider the sorts of jokes and banter that men are supposed to engage in, a lot of them have to do with mockery and dominance rituals ‘taking the piss’ if you were.

    It’s the acceptable form of male humour between colleagues, between friends expressiveness of emotion seems more permitted. I’ll back track though in order to justify my argument; I haven’t seen ‘Deadliest Catch’ but I have heard of it, and as @Pteryxx made mention of hazing and practical jokes. I recall from personal experience high school social groups, even between more intellectual types often comprising of some elements of this, but the less intellectual you got the more rough, vulgar and crass the jokes became.

    Likewise I currently work in a highly physical job in a very male orientated industry, even when our small team was very close a great deal of the basis of humour came from ‘ribbing’ – or light teasing at the expense of the individual, which was considered in good nature. The small team as it is now is significantly less close and the individuals who comprise it come from vastly different socio-economic backgrounds and the basis of the humour has shifted from light ribbing to humour at the expense of others.

    Interestingly, as the only individual who is much more emotionally expressive, my good mirth often draws remarks about my sexual persuasion, though not because they know I am bisexual, but rather that heterosexual men aren’t so overtly happy or expressive about it. This myth, perpetrated in the form of a joke by my boss and supported by supervisors runs rampant.

    The interesting thing is that similar ‘humourous’ japes were made at my good natured expense during high school and to a lesser extent though my University social circles.

    My point is that @noahbrand is correct, at least within some cultures and socio-economic areas mirth is as greatly regulated as sadness, fear and uncertainty and is considered ‘un-manly’ or at least ‘un-heterosexual’.

    One should also consider the form of humour found more acceptable though large sections of the job industry as things like ‘Sexist humour’, ‘Tomfoolery’ (think, ‘clowning around’) and ‘sexual humour’. Other forms of humour are less well accepted, situational comedy is well praised – if successful and puns often draw derision…

  53. debaser71 says:

    Are all social constructs bad?

    Could it simply be that the notion of stoic men actually helps some men cope with tragedy?

    I like that people are different. I can accept that some people are willing to fall into some of the roles that society lays out for them. This is not always a bad thing. And, yes, I do think there should be more room for more people to express (or not express) their emotions as they see fit. You know what I hate? When someone like Nancy Grace talks about the manner in which someone else is grieving.

  54. rezam says:

    @Paul – 10.22
    “The part of us that might have been able to show proper emotion has been completely atrophied.”

    Hmm, don’t throw in the towel just yet. I was an expressive kid till I was 4 or 5. I still get hints of that kid, I was 40 when I was 10, I was atrophied at 17, and since then, I am pretty sure that I have been at least 3 quite different men in terms of emotive tendency. Things change, sometimes abruptly through life circumstances, sometimes very subtly over time. I’m not sure that the capacity does really atrophy. It might get a bit rusty for a while….

  55. Oh god, not the emotions thing again.

    There was a meme going around when I was a young man that women wanted men to be more open about their feelings. I thought I was being offered understanding. Won’t make that mistake again. What women really wanted was for men to be more open about their feelings towards them – they wanted them to say more nice things about them. They had no interest in men’s actual emotional well-being.

    Even worse were the ones who demanded we make ourselves “vulnerable”. Think about what that word means.

    I have suffered from depression all my adult life, and I have learned a great deal about my emotions. They are mine. I may choose to share them, but no-one else has any right to demand them of me. Judging men for not showing their emotions “enough” is as sexist and policing as judging then for showing them “too much”.

  56. OrangeYouGlad says:

    “”Laura:
    “It would be good if we could drop the passive voice here. Who is telling men to repress their emotions and why are men giving whoever that is the power to make them miserable?”

    Probably the same people who tell women they need to be a size 0.””

    This.

    While I have my own hesitations in regards to the power “female socialisation” and “male socialisation” wield (and the degree to which an individual can push back and how much gender identity effects this over physical sex) the fact that socialisation exists and it is different for men and women is hardly a novel concept.

  57. Laura says:

    “Probably the same people who tell women they need to be a size 0.”

    Okay. Who is that? Satan? Martians? And why should we care?

    “These things are really being told to boys, boys who do not have the ability to not “give power” to them.”

    Again with the passive voice.

    If we are delving into this thing to find out how we can be better people and not thoughtlessly make each other’s life hell, I am right there with you.

    But you can’t control other people. You can’t control what they think and you can’t control what they say. You can only aspire to control yourself. It does take guts to talk back to whatever it is telling you “don’t cry” or “be a size zero” especially when whatever that is is a voice in your own head – that’s probably hardest of all – but the alternative to that is to be sad and miserable.

    I am basing some of this on observations I have had where I’ve seen people expressing what other people’s expectations are, in active rather than passive voice so that they pointed out who those other people were, and those other people saying no, you completely misread me.

    As to the toddler girl – maybe that is a girl thing. Or maybe the parents rushed to her whenever she cried and blocked her from ever having to work through her frustration. It’s impossible to know.

  58. theLaplaceDemon says:

    @Clarence – can you be a little more specific about what you mean? Why do you think pre-verbal socialization is overemphasized? And what aspect of learning are you referring to? We know that young children have massively plastic brains, and there seem to be certain critical windows of time for learning certain things. We also know quite a lot about the neural mechanisms of learning – that is what my research is on, actually. Not to say that there isn’t still a lot to learn about learning and memory, I’m just not quite sure what aspect of it you are referring to.

    @debaser71 – as I said above, I think the difference is between “there’s a time and a place for being highly emotional” and “MEN SHOULD NEVER SHOW EMOTION.” I agree that stoicism can be a positive trait, but I think our typical view of men goes beyond that, into something much more rigid.

  59. debaser71 says:

    I think our typical view of men goes beyond general stoicism too. But I think people, in general, do not expect everyone to be exactly like the male-archetype. That this social construct sets up an ‘ideal’ or an example. The stoic man, thinking, calm, collected, is sort of a mythical being…sort of a role model.

    I’m not saying this archetype is good or bad. I’m just saying that most people recognize it for what it is and simply use it as a guideline or tool to help them in their own personal, everyday lives. Some people take this too far in how they apply it to themselves. And other people take it too far when they want to impose it on others. With that said I certainly agree that people should be given more leeway in how to express (or again, not to express) their emotions.

    I’d like to point out (and this is obvious but I think it needs to be (re)stated) just because someone isn’t expressing a lot of emotion doesn’t mean they aren’t feeling a lot of emotion. That for some people, internalizing their emotions is how they cope. It doesn’t make them less human. It doesn’t mean they are ‘bottling it up’, creating some sort of time bomb. Stoicism works for some people.

  60. Duckie says:

    As an amazing coincidence, today I was directed to http://softenthefckup.com.au/

    There’s a pretty rigid standard set for men in Australia regarding expression of emotions- just look up Australian beer ads to see what a “bloke” should be- and I’ve seen the harm it can do to men. I’ve really noticed it lately, seeing my dad raise a second family after overcoming such emotional repression very late in life. The difference in his treatment of his two sons (one 30, one 6) is especially striking. He really pushed the elder into a “man box”, but the younger is allowed to do anything his twin sister is able to do, even cry. Dad’s much more emotionally healthy himself, even if he’s getting on in age.

    I don’t know if it’s typical, but it gives me hope for the future.

  61. JIm says:

    “It would be good if we could drop the passive voice here.”

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Laura.
    ” Who is telling men to repress their emotions and why are men giving whoever that is the power to make them miserable?”

    Obviously, pace Paul, someone is telling boys this, and in all sorts of ways. It starts with initial socialization – mothers teach kids all this, and it’s not some kind of horrible sexism; they are just preparing them for the world they will face. Then boys get from their toxic little peers, who are looking for anything they can use to jockey for relative advantage. And so by adoloescence all the evil media influences have cleared and tilled gorund to work on.

  62. Duckie says:

    @JIm

    Don’t forget the role of fathers as both role models and direct influences on their children.

    Otherwise I completely agree with your post.

  63. Laura says:

    Mothers do teach kids this. I remember getting “stop crying or I will give you something to cry about” more than once. I cried because my kittens died and my mother told me to stop and pretty much to quit being ridiculous. But that was the way she was raised. My mom grew up on a farm in Mississippi, one of eight children. Life was difficult and grim. Any emotion that anybody showed burdened other people. Everybody had to suck it up and deal with whatever was going on inside. No, it’s not healthy.

    With my own girl, I took a different approach. I was accepting of her feelings, but at the same time I wanted her to express them verbally (or write a note if she was too upset to talk; hence I got “Daddy yeld at me” and “I dot waet you nnemor” which I respected but also thought was hilarious). She got mad at me once and told me that she hated me. I acknowledged her anger but initiated a conversation about hurtful words that we don’t use. My mother would have beat me half to death and that would have been that.

    Maybe I get a little impatient at the idea that girls “are allowed” to show emotion because that WAS NOT my experience. But also, I gave myself permission to be a human being and do what I had to do. It’s not easy. I still have a tendency, when I get angry, to let it make me sick rather than act because of my raising. But it’s getting better. It involves thinking things through and it involves forgiving other people who are doing the best they can. I don’t think my mother’s way of handling these things was optimal. I always knew she loved me. It also involves taking ownership, as much as possible, of onesself and not outsourcing one’s standards for behavior to other people who do not have our best interest at heart.

  64. Duckie says:

    @Laura

    I wasn’t saying mothers don’t teach their children this, I’m saying fathers sometimes do too, if your explicit wording there was in reply to me. In my experience it was both my father and mother, one by being emotionally unavailable, and the other explicitly discouraging displays of emotion.

    I’m not going to universalize my experience and say all mothers do this and all fathers do that, especially when one has shown different parenting practices later in life.

  65. Laura says:

    Ducky, no, I took so much time handcrafting the wording of my screed that yours didn’t appear to me until after I submitted.

    I agree that fathers have a place in this. Ideally, there is a balancing thing going on.

    I read a post on a mommy blog a while back. The little boy, 5 years old, is very sensitive and it’s hard for him to adjust to new experiences. The family took a trip to a lakeshore. The twin sister waded right in because she doesn’t hold back from anything. The dad carried the boy into the shallow water and dropped him into it and he spent part of the rest of the day crying. The mom was impatient at the dad because, she said, you have to give the boy time to adjust to things, you can’t just throw him at them.

    I came away thinking that this is why we need two parents. The boy needed his dad to push his boundaries and encourage him to get over his fearfulness. He needed his mom to understand him so his life wasn’t hell.

  66. Laura says:

    Sorry, I misspelled your name and can’t edit.

  67. goodknit says:

    Hi Noah,

    Thanks for this really thoughtful post! I’m enjoying your writing very much, please keep it up.

    “What have been some of your experiences with emotional repression or expression? What other problems arise from this root issue? What do you think can be done? ”

    Personally, I’ve never shied away from expressing myself emotionally, and although I present physically as a big, strong, traditionally masculine white man, I’ve taken a lot of flak for it over the years. From pre-teen years on, people have questioned and/or mocked my sexuality, wondering if I was ‘really straight,’ or ‘straight enough,’ labeling me ‘girly,’ or ‘not a real man.’
    The funny thing, though? I’m over it. For all the best efforts of cultural enforcers, who’ve tried to ridicule me over my boyish joy, or girlish style, or emotional sensitivity, or insufficient homophobia, or whatever way I was not paying heed to the scriptural doctrines set out in Maxim magazine that day, those people really don’t matter, and neither does their judgment. They can’t take away from my awesome life; they can’t take away the satisfaction I get from my badass career, or the ridiculously hot women I’ve dated or gone home with over the years, the rich emotional life I share with my friends and family, or any of the best parts of life. It so happens that this man right here, who likes whiskey, baseball, pretty women, hiking, and many other traditionally masculine things, also likes poetry, cooking, being pretty, and yoga, and this particular man is no more, or less, of a man than any other. And anybody who says otherwise isn’t really worth my time.

    Please don’t get me wrong: I feel for other men who don’t have the same privileged experience that I have, or for younger men, who don’t know how to stand up for themselves… I feel for men my own age who aren’t in touch with their emotional lives, and for older men, who grew up in a culture where gender roles were more strictly and violently enforced… for all the men who are oppressed by patriarchy in their intimate lives. Activism can, should, must help all victims of patriarchy, of all genders, no matter what form that oppression takes.
    But as someone who has purposefully constructed an adult life around my own vision of masculinity, I can say the rewards far outweigh the costs… and I truthfully don’t understand why more men don’t do it. It’s just so much more fun to live this way! And what does one risk, exactly, by trying?

  68. typhonblue says:

    Off topic and just in general.

    Using terms like ‘patriarchy’ and ‘paternalism’–in other words terms that reference fatherhood as negative, isn’t that stigmatizing and sinisterizing men who take on a nurturing role towards their own children?

  69. Camilla says:

    It’s occurred to me part way down, that there’s a lot of room for recollection bias in “punished for crying as a child.” I punished my four year old son for crying just yesterday (a verbal warning followed by a timeout) – the reason? He didn’t answer when I asked what he wanted on his oatmeal, so I put brown sugar on it, and then he spent the next ten minutes trailing around the kitchen after me, crying loudly and complaining about it.

    I don’t punish a kid for crying, when there’s either reasonable justification, or the crying is more private in nature, but I do correct it, if it seems to me that it’s manipulative in nature. I end up doing so about a dozen times a week in a rough week.

    I presume most of the times a small child bawls about something utterly trivial, the reason and the rest of the scenario doesn’t stick long in memory, but sometimes the words used do (I remember “or I’ll give you something to cry about”, and my parents were calm, mature and mellow by other standards), but when he has something real to cry about, that reason is remembered. Easy to mash up “I cried when ” and “I heard ‘or I’ll give you something to cry about’ a lot” into a picture of being punished for justified crying.

    I don’t have any daughters, but I don’t think my strategy would be appreciably different towards a girl with a similar temperament. I say “be a big boy” not “be a man” but I don’t have a wholly non-gendered epithet for the sentiment. I would like my parenting better, if I was able to head off more of the tantrums without it coming to tears – I don’t think frequent showdowns are good for any of us – but when backed into a corner, I don’t think my response is inappropriate.

  70. debaser71 says:

    typhonblue, yes it is. As a stay at home dad I get flak from all angles.

    I’ll just note that since I am the one who tends to my children’s needs I am also the one who has to teach them how not be overcome with emotions. So where I think it’s too rough to insist a child not cry when their kittens die, I also think there is a legitimate time to insist a child not cry; when, for example, I tell them, “no” to ice cream. Part of being a parent is teaching children how to act when they feel frustration, or anger, or fear. That they can’t just whine or lash out or throw tantrums. I have to teach my children that bragging and flaunting is rude, no matter how good it feels. This list could go on forever.

    Simple parental responsibility is to raise a child who is socialized. So I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with parents who chose to use gender social constructs to help them with parenting. I think non-parents have a hard time realizing how much parents have to teach their children. You hear about reading, t.v. watching, self-confidence, but you rarely hear about how to deal with, for example, masturbation. This list is endless too. But, of course, these social constructs don’t work for everyone and I wish their wasn’t so much stigma attached to being outside the ‘norm’.

  71. typhonblue says:

    @ debaser

    Crying to express how you feel is one thing; crying to manipulate someone into doing something is another.

  72. elissa says:

    That’s an important distinction to be sure. We should not confuse having emotions with expressing emotions. We should also not elevate the hyper expression of emotions above the less so, believing that more is better or healthier. Most expressions of emotions contain some level of persuasion that can border on coercion. It’s a form of communication.

  73. OrangeYouGlad says:

    @Laura – One anecdotal counter-experience (yours), hell, two anecdotal counter-experiences (we can add mine) do not change the fact that socialisation is typically gendered. That the social pressures women face to “not be sluts” or “be size 0” are the same as the ones men face when told to “man up” (you’ll notice there’s no equivalent expression in culture to “woman up”?). Yes, of course, it is up to the person to fight their socialisation and that nothing will change if they don’t, I’m not saying socialisation is some immutable god, and if it “happens to you”, oh well, you can’t change it anymore than a punch in the face. I also think its more complex than male assigned at birth = socialised X and female assigned at birth = socialised Y and nary the twain shall meet but that’s not actually the point here and it’d be a diservice to all to derail into that.

    However, regardless of what your parents (or mine) did, if you had any access to culture at large (books, movies, teachers, church services, other adults, (primarily) female peers, advertising, etc.) and you had/have a female gender identity then you had access to the wider cultural message about what is and isn’t appropriate for girls. My parents raised me different also but saying that’s the end of it in regards to a *cultural* stigma seems a bit short-sighted.

    Honestly, in regards to men and emotion I’m of the camp that “its not so bad, its the price men pay for being able to stand up in the world” but even that doesn’t erase that it happens. (Considering I do believe that some degree of gendered socialisation occurs and that it accounts for at least a portion of the difference between what I would call “guy culture” and “girl culture”, but perhaps you categorically deny this exists at all? In which case do let me know as that would render this entire discussion pointless… and this blog pointless, come to think of it, considering all legal barriers are pretty much stripped).

    “”I am basing some of this on observations I have had where I’ve seen people expressing what other people’s expectations are, in active rather than passive voice so that they pointed out who those other people were, and those other people saying no, you completely misread me.””

    Why do people have those expectations? People learn a certain pattern of reactions and learn to apply it to future situations. This applies to any social interaction. It’s how I know that if, in the middle of polite conversation, I start reaching for a hard to get booger, the person I am speaking to, whether they are too polite to really say anything or not, is probably disgusted. Yes, sometimes people are wrong, not *every* person they ever thought or worried was disapproving actually was, but a decent percentage *actually were*, and if they never had cause to worry they probably wouldn’t. Now, I am not saying that gives men a pass to sit around and mope about their poor emotionless life and then do nothing except be the vitim of Big Ol’ Mean Society; *but no one here is advocating that*. Fixing a problem requires acknowledging it exists, something the men in this thread are doing, they’ve also asked “what can be done?”, they’ve also proposed answers, they’ve discussed *how* it happens (a good start for understanding how to change it), and they’re also discussing their experiences with emotion-policing and discussing their emotions/what they feel in regards to that, which in itself is a decent first step, or they’ve discussed how they *haven’t* allowed this socialisation effect them and encouraged other men.
    All of which is infinitely more useful than second-guessing their experiences and denying the problem exists.

  74. typhonblue says:

    @ OrangeYourGlad

    “Now, I am not saying that gives men a pass to sit around and mope about their poor emotionless life and then do nothing except be the vitim of Big Ol’ Mean Society; *but no one here is advocating that*.”

    Here’s what I wonder. Does Laura hold women to the same proactive standard?

    Would she go to a body issues support group and say ‘stop using the passive voice? Who’s _really_ making you feel the way you feel?’ Would she go to a feminist group and say ‘street harassment is just words, you still control how it makes you feel.’

  75. Tamen says:

    Time will tell if it works and it is hard and tough to do it consistently, but when my kids cry from pain or hurt I always comfort them and if it was a minor thing I try to say “that wasn’t bad and it will be better soon” rather than “that didn’t hurt, you’re a though guy/girl”.
    When they cry because they’re disappointed, angry and want something (in short using crying for manipulation) I tell them that I understand that they’re angry because so-and-so, but crying won’t change the outcome – it is what it is. And I also tell them that when they’re done crying they can come to me for a hug. If they cry for a long time I ask them whether they’re ready for the hug soon.

    I try to not treat them different in this regard, but of course it’s hard to assess that about oneself – in particular if one is talking about subconscious behaviour – thus I trust my wife to point it out to me when I do.

  76. Tamen says:

    noahbrand: You forgot to mention the duality when it comes to anger. Yes, it is sort of the one emotion men are required/expected to have to be a “real man”. While at the same time it is not. Male anger is considered a very dangerous and destructive emotion – it is downright demonized in our society. And one ends up with the dilemma: Anger is the one emotion I am allowed to express, but if I do people will be afraid of me and consider me a primitive brute in need of an anger management class. So I would guess plenty of men end up repressiong that emotion as well.

  77. Laura says:

    “Would she go to a body issues support group and say ‘stop using the passive voice? Who’s _really_ making you feel the way you feel?’”

    Yes, absolutely I would. Please understand that I’m not being mean here. Stepping outside the problem and analyzing is the first step to solving it. I am big on solving problems.

    I’d never suggest that the problem isn’t there. I’m suggesting that we find a way to get past it and be happy.

    “Would she go to a feminist group and say ‘street harassment is just words, you still control how it makes you feel.’”

    It’s my understanding that street harassment isn’t just words, it’s menacing behavior. Not so? Aren’t we hearing about women being followed from bus stops and so on? That’s not just words.

    …I don’t really remember telling my daughter not to cry. Sometimes you can’t help it. If you don’t want to raise a manipulative cryer, you can’t feed that by giving in because they cry. If, on the other hand, your child is crying because she is sincerely distressed about something, you should probably fix the problem. The difference is that the kid is crying because she’s unhappy, not to try to get her way. And a lot of times the kid is crying because she’s worn out and needs a nap. I hate seeing people drag their crying child through the mall when you can see by the kid’s face that that is what the problem is. And fussing at the kid for crying. I want to tell them – have some mercy. If you were that tired you’d go home and lie down.

  78. typhonblue says:

    @ Laura

    “It’s my understanding that street harassment isn’t just words, it’s menacing behavior.”

    Menacing is subjective and based entirely on the internal emotional experience of the person.

    Obviously things that some women on here find menacing, I find merely inconvenient or annoying.

    As long as no one is being physically touched then the situation is just about words and body language. The same things you’re saying that men should, you know, just get over.

    Incidentally, I think there is a parallel to be drawn between women’s physical fears and the psychological fears of men. If women are generally physically more fragile, men’s gender identities are correspondingly more fragile. (No one says, ‘woman up’ or ‘be a real woman’ or ‘you’re not a woman if you do X.’) So if we’re careful around the more vulnerable gender identities of, say, the transgendered, it makes sense to be correspondingly more careful around the more vulnerable gender identities of men. Exactly as some people on here expect men to be more careful due to the physical vulnerabilities of women.

    Again, as long as no one is being physically touched, men being more careful about expressions and body language to prevent the subjective experience of ‘menace’ in women is really about men trying to police themselves to prevent women from having ‘bad feelings’.

    How is that different then expecting women to police themselves to prevent men from having ‘bad feelings’ for example, ‘feeling like their gender identity is being menaced.’

  79. typhonblue says:

    An example of ‘menacing a man’s gender identity’ is:

    Wearing revealing clothing in inappropriate situations that require a man to concentrate on a task.

    Because a man’s gender identity indicates he must notice women’s visual displays–drilled into his head from about the time he’s a pre-teen–else he be labeled some variation of ‘not a man’ female exhibitionism pits a man’s security in his gender identity against his need to fulfill what’s being required of him.

    It thus becomes a form of subtle menacing behavior: pay attention to me because you’ve been taught that affirms your identity, or pay attention to your studies/work/meditation and be forced to subtly emasculate yourself. (By count of Santa, God or the all seeing Masculine Hegemony.)

    After all, what’s the favorite insult of a woman scorned? ‘What kind of man are you?’ ‘Are you a fag?’ ‘I bet you’re impotent!’

    (Yes, Clarence, I know the main dynamic is that attractive!woman is attractive, but I’m talking about a more subtle dynamic here.)

  80. Laura says:

    “If women are generally physically more fragile, men’s gender identities are correspondingly more fragile.”

    Hm. Is this the fragile male ego we used to hear about – back in the 70’s maybe? That doesn’t make it wrong, of course.

    I don’t agree that nothing short of physical touching constitutes menacing. How about a group of strangers blocking the sidewalk, for instance, and offering verbal threats? But if the street harassment does just amount to “hey baby” yelled out of a passing car, not a big deal IMO. I suspect the big stuff is being conflated with the small stuff.

    So you could explain to a man who didn’t understand about personal space, what it is and that he shouldn’t stand too close to a woman (or man, actually,) that he doesn’t know. I don’t think that’s asking too much. It certainly is not asking too much of a woman not to gender-police men, as long as you are specific enough in your request that she understands exactly what you are asking her to stop doing. Are you thinking that I think it is?

    I think people need to figure out what their problem is and deal with it. That might actually mean asking someone else to change their behavior. But you can’t make other people do that, of course. They might, but they might not. Then the question is, how can you keep their attitude from making you miserable. Before you can do any of that you have to identify who is doing whatever it is and what exactly they are doing, and the key there is to not say “I am made to feel X” and leave it at that.

  81. Laura says:

    Was pecking when your last comment turned up. I’ll read it now.

  82. Laura says:

    My husband was asked what kind of man he was, once. It was when he was on the third day of a new job and was quitting it because of the ridiculously unsafe working conditions – they had him on a catwalk over a vat of caustic without handrails and without a safety harness.. He didn’t answer the question but his thought was, I may not know what kind of man I am but I know I’m not a blithering idiot.

    Your comment about the revealing clothes is interesting and could open an entire case of worms.

    I think sometimes girls do not fully understand what they are doing there. Sometimes they do, probably, but sometimes they don’t. Explicit me, I explained to my daughter about a pair of shorts that was too short and too tight when she was a teenager: the message here is that you are sexually available, and right now, you’re not.

    But guys are going to have to control themselves here. If we put the onus on girls not to attract them too much, we’ll end up in burkhas. And I’m not sure we want to desensitize them to the degree that we can’t turn them on even when it’s appropriate and we try. So, not sure where to draw the line.

  83. typhonblue says:

    @ Laura

    “Hm. Is this the fragile male ego we used to hear about – back in the 70′s maybe? That doesn’t make it wrong, of course.”

    I hate that term, ‘fragile male ego’. It’s a way of dismissing men’s pain and ignoring their vulnerabilities. Do we say ‘fragile transexual ego’? No. We don’t. And there is absolutely no difference. There is a group of people who lack ‘gender identity privilege’ ie. the right to be seen as having the gender identity they present as and have that choice be given complete, unequivocal and unquestioned respect. Transexuals are part of that group. So are men.

    And if men need to be told in general to be respectful of women’s physical vulnerabilities–to avoid generating bad feelings–why don’t women need to be told in general to be respectful of men’s psychological vulnerabilities–to avoid generating bad feelings?

    After all, not respecting someone’s gender identity can put enough pressure on them to commit suicide. If we can recognize the culpability of gender-denying bullies constantly tormenting a transwoman in her eventual suicide; perhaps we should also recognize the potential connection between the greater gender-denying men experience and their greater rates of suicide?

  84. Laura says:

    Typhon, when people were originally talking about the fragile male ego, they were totally serious about it. Maybe I’m older than you but I do remember that. It got to be a joke because it was overdone; it came to be a way of infantilizing men and of disregarding the fact that women deserve to be respected too.

    It’d be cool if nobody had to be told to act like a human being. Alas.

  85. typhonblue says:

    @ Laura

    “it came to be a way of infantilizing men and of disregarding the fact that women deserve to be respected too.”

    Chivalry wasn’t a manifestation of men respecting women back then?

    As for ‘fragile male ego’; just judging from the phrase I don’t think it was really about respect, it sounds like most of it was shaming and, like you said, infantilizing men. Or promoting a _maternalistic_ attitude of feminine superiority.

  86. Laura says:

    What I am remembering is that a woman could never let a man think that she knew anything he didn’t, or that she could do anything better than he could. He always had to be superior or it was too much for his fragile ego to bear. They were TOTALLY SERIOUS about this. And God help the woman who made more money than her husband. Somehow it was on her always to make him feel that he was “wearing the pants in the family” or his resulting doldrums were her fault.

    The feminists of those days faught against this and against chivalry because the gender roles were hurting everybody.

    I’m supporting us right now b/c my husband is unemployed. (Job interview Monday, cross fingers.) He’d like a job because there are things we’d like to do and don’t now have enough money to do them, but it’s not hurting his ego that his wife is supporting him. Turns out this is the case with two neighbor men who were laid off and whose families got by for a time on the wife’s pay. And at my (heavily male) workplace, one of the guys talking about his hobby said he couldn’t afford it if his wife didn’t make more than he does, and that turned out to be the case with several of the guys. And none of them looked like he didn’t want to admit it, or that they didn’t appreciate what their wives were doing. So that whole who-wears-the-pants thing is hopefully long gone. But boy, it was a real thing several years ago.

  87. typhonblue says:

    @ Laura

    “What I am remembering is that a woman could never let a man think that she knew anything he didn’t, or that she could do anything better than he could. He always had to be superior or it was too much for his fragile ego to bear.”

    You don’t see how that really puts women in the superior position? “I’m really better then my husband but I have to hide it because he’s so inferior that even knowing how inferior he is would cause him to melt down into a puddle of mangoo.”

  88. Laura says:

    Yeah, this was so edgy in 1980:

    I can bring home the bacon
    Fry it up in a pan
    And never, ever let you forget you’re a man
    ‘Cause I’m a woman.

  89. Laura says:

    Typhon, that’s why I said it was infantilizing. Men are tougher than that.

  90. typhonblue says:

    @ Laura

    “And never, ever let you forget you’re a man”

    Because a man’s identity is somehow under the control of a woman? To me that’s what’s incredibly misandrous about all this (and sort of mindboggling).

    It assumes that a man’s identity is at the behest of a woman. Actual respect would be more like ‘you’re a man, what I do or say cannot change that and acting like assuming what I do or say can change that is offensive. Just like me waking up to a transwoman and saying ‘you’re a woman when I decide you’re a woman’ is offensive and hateful.’

  91. Paul says:

    TB:
    ” ‘you’re a man, what I do or say cannot change that and acting like assuming what I do or say can change that is offensive. Just like me waking up to a transwoman and saying ‘you’re a woman when I decide you’re a woman’ is offensive and hateful.’”

    Good luck putting that to music though

  92. OrangeYouGlad says:

    “””Before you can do any of that you have to identify who is doing whatever it is and what exactly they are doing, and the key there is to not say “I am made to feel X” and leave it at that.”””

    And, once again, *no one here was advocating that*. Once again, “they’ve asked “what can be done?”, they’ve also proposed answers, they’ve discussed *how* it happens (a good start for understanding how to change it), and they’re also discussing their experiences with emotion-policing and discussing their emotions/what they feel in regards to that, which in itself is a decent first step, or they’ve discussed how they *haven’t* allowed this socialisation effect them and encouraged other men.”

    They haven’t second-guessed an individual’s experience because there’s no good to be had in that. Also, wondering if projecting is what’s really behind this male belief that their emotions are policed cuts pretty close to denying the problem and placing it in the realm of delusion which is also not helpful. And neither thing “solves the problem” or even comes close to a “solution” for all you allegedly value that. There’s much more that’s been done in the questions of what and how, of experiences and emotions, and even in your mention of parenting and the need to differentiate between manipulative and distressed tears, than in either of those things.

    @typhon – Thanks for recognising cis men have gender identities also (and cis women for that matter). There’s a million different reasons why I think that’s a good thing (for men with trans histories as well as cis guys) but I’m afraid I have to leave for work so I’ll have to save that list for later.

  93. typhonblue says:

    @ Paul

    “Good luck putting that to music though”

    German opera?

  94. Maxwellsilverhammer says:

    ‘Honestly, in regards to men and emotion I’m of the camp that “its not so bad, its the price men pay for being able to stand up in the world”’

    I agree.

    If you’ve every had a verbal argument with someone, or gotten into a physical fight, or participated in a competitive sport/game, you know that showing emotion will be interpreted as a sign of weakness and vulnerability. This interpretation is generally correct, in that emotionally vulnerability will mostly make one less capable in whichever competitive endeavor.

    You might already agree, but here’s an example to illustrate my point:
    I do kickboxing. In sparring I will sometimes get hurt. However, when I get hurt, I try not to show it. I hide my pain, because if my partner sees that I’m hurt, he knows I’m less of a threat because I’m less likely to be able to retaliate if he aggressively attacks me. So I try to hide my physical and emotional pain out of self-preservation.

    So that’s why stoicism is equated with strength.

    The reason women are not expected to be stoic is that women are not expected to be strong and capable (sexism). Stoicism has its disadvantages (unhappiness).

    However, I think it is a valid question to ask whether we should put less pressure on men to be stoic (and strong), or rather more pressure on women to be stoic (and strong), or some combination of both.

  95. Cassandra says:

    I’ve seen a man tear up during an emotional scene at a movie, and his boorish girlfriend say “OMG, are you CRYING? That is so touching/cute/sensitive/etc.!” and make a show out of it. Instead of allowing the human being next to her to openly express whatever emotion runs through him, and simply letting it happen.

  96. Laura says:

    “And, once again”

    No kidding.

    I totally get that you disapprove of my approach, believe me. Nevertheless I think it’s better to work through a problem than to continue to suffer, if possible. Please feel free to disagree. You don’t have to keep attacking me, though, although you can if you need to.

  97. debaser71 says:

    I wanted to briefly say that when I see someone who is IMO being overemotional I do not think “man up”. I think, “grow up”.

    I’m also glad others talked about using emotion as a way to coerce others. I was thinking about how to say it, but I didn’t want to get too caught up in asides. And one can coerce using anger too…I’m not just talking about crying.

  98. superglucose says:

    Not being allowed to be sad is really rough on me because I will internalize it as shame and get pissed off at myself for being sad. It’s one of those lovely loops: “I’m sad because I’m lonely” “God I hate myself because men aren’t allowed to be sad” “No one can like me because I hate myself” “I’m sad because I’m lonely” etc. etc.

  99. Eagle33 says:

    Hi Guys.

    I’ve returned for now to the realm of Gender Debate, albeit at a limited role than before since certain subjects remain triggering for me. So I’ll be commenting sparodically but not in every thread. It’s more prudent for me.

    Anyway I’ve been looking at this subject and it’s the impeutis behind my decision to come back.

    One of the things I want say is that while men aren’t allowed to have emotions, there are also some things that are considered “Taboo” where men have a disadvantage.

    The biggest one is being a victim of abuse from a female. Whether it concern domestic, sexual, or general abuse, the method doesn’t matter. It’s effect is the same: Taboo.

    Here, men face a losing situation. While encouraged to express their problems and fears, once they broach that subject, there’s a legitmate fear of not being believed. To talk about women or girls who abuse men and boys means navigating isolating territory. Very few people want to talk about it and even fewer believe it happens. So, with that mentality, there are two choices:

    1) Talk about their abuse and face isolation and lonlieness except the company of others who have gone through it.

    2) Don’t talk about it and enjoy the company of mainstream society and the care of their loved ones yet still face isolation and lonlieness.

    Okay, I exaggerate and parts of my response is tainted through my experience. But taboo subjects like this, you can’t blame men for keeping their emotions boxed in.

    At least, it’s something I face in regards to being hurt by girls and women.

  100. PsyConomics says:

    @Laura and @Maxwellsilverhammer

    “… Honestly, in regards to men and emotion I’m of the camp that “it’s not so bad, it’s the price men pay for being able to stand up in the world…””

    From a certain perspective I’m sure this makes sense, and from a historical perspective I would not be surprised if it were entirely correct. The concern I have with this line of thinking in our modern time is that it doesn’t sound entirely “fair” per-se. It sounds like it assumes that ALL men are willing to give up a certain amount of emotional range in order to “stand up in the world” and it seems to imply that this is always a fair or advantageous “trade.” Imagine this sentiment with the genders switched and a slight change made for continuity:

    “… Honestly, in regards to women and emotion, I’m of the camp that “its not so bad, its the price women pay to be more empathetic and better caregivers…””
    Or
    “… Honestly, in regards to women and equal pay, I’m of the camp that “its not so bad, its the price women pay for entering men’s circles…””

    The above issues have been corner stones of feminist activism practically since the inception of the discipline. Using the supplied rhetorical framework, and framing things in terms of “fair trade” or a sort of “quid pro quo,” I can make some of the more toxic, measurable, and persistent motes of inequality seem tame and inconsequential.

    Thus, my concern is not that it is never “advantageous” or even “fair” for some men to give up emotional range in order to better “stand up” in the world, my concern is that this broad statement might serve to make something look trivial that to some men is a truly crippling problem.

  101. OrangeYouGlad says:

    Laura: “”I totally get that you disapprove of my approach, believe me. Nevertheless I think it’s better to work through a problem than to continue to suffer, if possible. Please feel free to disagree. You don’t have to keep attacking me, though, although you can if you need to.””

    I am not and have not thus far attacked you… your approach on the other hand, you’re quite right in saying I disapprove. I also disapprove of your continued implication that I and other men here aren’t attempting to work through things but instead proposing we simply “continue to suffer”. Which I suppose means there is no further point in discussing this considering any attempt at pointing out why I think your solution is problematic apparently means I want no solution and am “attacking you”.

    @Psyconomics – Actually, that quote was originally mine and while I do see, and have had pointed out to me, the problem with that sentiment, and I agree… I also think there’s use in it. I suppose my total view on men and emotion is both complicated and contradictory since it naturally has to mix ideals, reality, and personal experiences. Ultimately though I think at this point I’m a little tired of discussing it in general… just wanted to point out that wasn’t originally Laura or Maxwell’s original sentiment there even if they may share it.

  102. Politicalguineapig says:

    MaxwellsSilverHammer: showing emotion will be interpreted as a sign of weakness and vulnerability.
    Yes! I’m a woman, but I completely get this concept. I failed as a girl pretty early on, and started rigidly controlling my emotions at about eight. I hate the idea of being weak, so I avoid as many “female” behaviors as I can. I hate the idea that women can instantly understand emotions, as I need a decoder ring. My friends all think I’m a lovely, sweet and wonderful person, but I’m not. I’m just a really good actress.

  103. Laura says:

    PsyConomics, I missed your earlier comment:

    As a specific example:
    I remember once, back in college, I had done really poorly on a math test and it utterly devastated me. I was laying down in my dorm room sulking/sobbing when my girlfriend at the time came over and commented (matter-of-factly), “I don’t like to see my man cry, feel better.”

    I am sure there are plenty of other stories like this, but this only illustrates one of many potential mechanisms by which a man might be told to not express emotions.

    You know her better than I, of course, but reading just what you write that she says, it looks like she was saying “it distresses me to see you upset” rather than “don’t cry, it’s not manly”, since she followed it up with “feel better”. I know that I have said “I don’t like to see you cry” to my daughter and that is exactly what I meant. When I have said that, it was a statement of empathy, not judgment. Now maybe your girlfriend meant exactly what you thought she meant. As I say, I wasn’t there and you were.

    Now this:

    “… Honestly, in regards to men and emotion I’m of the camp that “it’s not so bad, it’s the price men pay for being able to stand up in the world…””

    is not from me and I’m not sure I agree with it. Women stand up in the world, for one thing. And for another, I’m not of the opinion that men “are not allowed” to have emotions. I know they sometimes get blowback when they show them. The “boorish” girlfriend (good word) who comments on the boyfriend crying in the movie – well, either we’d have words about that later or that’d be the last movie she would see with me. But (a) women get blowback too – try expressing anger about something that really needs to be addressed and being asked if you are on the rag, sometime – and (b) men do express emotion. As stated above, Boehner cries. Yes, he’s been criticized for it. He’s still there. Nobody has burst into flames because he had tears on his face.

  104. Tamen says:

    The fact of the matter is that as soon as you say ‘I don’t like to see you cry’ or ‘Your crying is distressing me’ you are making the situation about your own feelings and that is a very poor way to express empathy – it rather comes across as manipulation.

  105. Laura says:

    But that’s what empathy is, Tamen. You feel with that person. She’s crying and so you feel sad too. It would be cold-hearted not to.

  106. typhonblue says:

    @ Laura

    “But (a) women get blowback too – try expressing anger about something that really needs to be addressed and being asked if you are on the rag, sometime ”

    Well, geeze, Laura, maybe any woman who gets upset at a ‘are you on the rag’ should put on her big girl panties. Hmmm….?

  107. Slade says:

    Despite being female, and socialized female, I actually spent a long time doing the male stoicism thing. It wasn’t till a couple of years ago (I’m 25) that I started actually making myself feel my emotions without policing them. I didn’t cry, I didn’t let myself admit when I was miserable (which was all the time, actually), and I certainly didn’t let on when I was feeling really happy or hopeful about something, because that would be just too much. My family is really repressed, and you can see it in their bodies. There’s a lot of back pain, ulcers, repetitive stress injuries, strokes, and heart problems in my family. I feel like I’m out of the loop of that now, and looking in at it is like looking into a madhouse. I cry all the time now and I’m starting to feel good about it. Tears are like a release valve, not just for releasing too much sadness or too much happiness, but just for releasing too much of any emotion. Sometimes life is just too beautiful to contain. I couldn’t see that so much when I was growing up.

  108. Alberto Pérez Pérez-Duque says:

    I feel sad to say I repress a lot of my feelings, this coming from a lonely childhood and insecurities.
    Also, in my relations with women, I was asked to show my emotions, but I felt it was a trap. They told me to express my fears and pains and joys, but also they wanted me to be the rock-solid ligthouse in the middle of their stormy night.

    It felt like they were checking I was still man enough.

  109. Laura says:

    Typhon, “put on your big girl panties” is just as offensive as “man up” and I don’t say those things to people. I especially wouldn’t say anything like that to a man who said “I was crying at a movie and my girlfriend said ‘OMG are you crying?'”, nor would I say that to a woman who said “I was angry and my boyfriend asked me if I was on the rag”. Notice the utter lack, here, of either passive voice or reading a negative meaning into a neutral statement or facial expression.

  110. typhonblue says:

    @ Laura

    “Typhon, “put on your big girl panties” is just as offensive as “man up” and I don’t say those things to people.”

    I rather disagree. Put on your big girl panties isn’t a slur on someone’s gender identity, it’s telling them to grow up and be an adult.

  111. darksidecat says:

    “Crying like a girl” “Acting like a fag” “Not a man” The lower status being invoked here is the status of woman or queer/trans person. The notion that emotion makes a cis het man bad because it makes him like the trans people, the queer people, and the women is pretty solidly placing him at the top of that heirarchy. The only reason emotion doesn’t knock the rest of us down and make us be seen as less competant is that we are already there as the default.

    Look, it is okay to talk about the ways that the constraints of the privileges can hurt (for example, the erasure of immigrant history due to white hegemony), but conflating them with oppression is innacurate and unhelpful. That’s what I am objecting to here, to make that clear, not the discussion of the pain of emotional repression, but the silly notion that women, and queer/trans people are being privileged here.

    (Also, typhonblue, your erasure of the oppression of trans people, particularly of trans women, is offensive in all sorts of ways. Cis people do not actually have to deal with the shit trans people are dealing with on a regular basis, so cut the crap.)

  112. typhonblue says:

    “Also, typhonblue, your erasure of the oppression of trans people, particularly of trans women, is offensive in all sorts of ways. Cis people do not actually have to deal with the shit trans people are dealing with on a regular basis, so cut the crap”

    I’m not saying that cis het men have to deal with the same crap as trans, however they do have to deal with people _questioning their gender identity_ and that having their gender identity questioned is a common and very acceptable part of our culture.

    This is not crap. It’s verifiably true.

    “The notion that emotion makes a cis het man bad because it makes him like the trans people, the queer people, and the women is pretty solidly placing him at the top of that heirarchy. The only reason emotion doesn’t knock the rest of us down and make us be seen as less competant is that we are already there as the default.”

    Why don’t you cut the crap and stop comparing the position of a cis het white female with trans, queer and people of color?

    As far as I can tell even though expressions of femininity in men are marginalized, they certainly aren’t in women. Further when straight and gay men(and transwomen) are marginalized for being feminine, rather then ‘falling down’ to the position of a woman, they fall into some other category in which they don’t get the protections of a woman either. (And women do get protections; note the 100lb woman getting in the face of a much larger man when a 100lb man would never dare. Plus all that ‘sacrifice for your wife as christ sacrificed for the church’, chivalry and white knight socialization. Men take their identities from providing and protecting women.)

    Thus the huge rates of rape and violence against trans women; as well as the violence directed towards feminine boys, gay and straight.

  113. Tamen says:

    Laura: Yes, empathy is to feel with the other person and there is nothing wrong with feeling sad because another person is crying and I didn’t say otherwise.
    However, you shouldn’t express your empathy by telling them how their crying makes you sad. That’s an extremely egocentric statement. And it too easily reads as “feel better because you’re causing me to be sad by your sadness” which is centering your emotion and making their emotion or display of it the culprit of your pain. There is no difference in outcome between “don’t cry, it’s not manly” and “it distresses me to see you upset”. Both will result in the person supressing their emotions, or rather their display of emotions, the first by shame and the second by invocing their love and concern for you – when it’s really they who are in need of your love and concern at that point.

    Just to make it very clear: I’ve used the general you above.

  114. @typhonblue: for most situations, people aren’t genuinely questioning a cis man’s *gender identity* – certainly not in a way they challenge a trans person’s gender identity. They’re challenge his adherence to the unreasonable contradictory masculine ideal by suggesting he is less than a “true” man by somehow being “like” groups that the masculine ideal(ideology) considers to be less than men.

    Certainly many men reward women for displaying “appropriate” femininity – in that sense, it’s not marginalized as inappropriate. But there’s nothing non-marginalizing about being considered weaker, more irrational, incapable of physically caring for oneself or one’s house, incapable of solving one’s own problems, incapable of carrying one’s own suitcase, by virtue of one’s gender. Certainly it is a privilege to not be expected to know how to do these things (the way it seems sometimes men are assumed to be born knowing how to rebuild an engine block), but it is not a privilege to have people assume you are helpless and you need their expertise or protection to survive. (like typical MRA retorts to women “Where would you be without us to hunt the mastadon?!” – hint: women would have hunted the mastadon if you weren’t there to do it…)

    I was raised with 2 brothers and socialized to be very masculine – from a very early age I picked up on all the messages people were sending *my brothers* about how female toys and skirts and dolls were *bad* – I grew up an essential misogynist, believing that female=weak and I had to be as much like boys as possible to get any respect, and that displaying femininity was only useful for getting boyfriends. My brothers reinforced this by continually telling me I was weak, less than them, because of my gender. Certainly I didn’t believe that anyone could or should respect women as equals if they were “girly,” though they could be appreciated in feminine roles on a different level. It’s taken a long, long time to unpick this misogyny.

    Questioning a man’s masculinity is not usually a genuine questioning of his right to call himself a man, it’s an insult designed to provoke compliance with misandric masculine cultural norms and force him to reaffirm his commitment to being that kind of man – make him toe the party line, as it were.

    Gay and trans people are oppressed in different ways than women, I agree with you there, and they certainly aren’t protected by heterosexual or cisgender privilege. But the fact that they’re insulted via an association with femininity should be a hint that cis women and cis men are not on a level playing field, even if cis women are higher up on that hierarchy than queer and trans people.

    Saying that we’re on different fields, however, doesn’t mean that men aren’t oppressed or that all our oppressions aren’t intertwined or complex.

  115. typhonblue says:

    @ startledoctopus
    “They’re challenge his adherence to the unreasonable contradictory masculine ideal by suggesting he is less than a “true” man by somehow being “like” groups that the masculine ideal(ideology) considers to be less than men.”

    I think you’re putting too fine a point on it. The idea that the gender identity ‘man’ can be revoked based on not preforming masculinity correctly seems very parallel to the idea of transwomen and transmen having to present in order to pass. The constant questioning and potential dismissal of your gender identity is identical. Everyone around you has the right to say you’re not what you say you are based on their judgements of how well you conform to your gender identity.

    “But the fact that they’re insulted via an association with femininity should be a hint that cis women and cis men are not on a level playing field”

    Being called ‘manly’ isn’t exactly a compliment for any woman. Gender policing is bidirectional.

    Also, as far as I can tell, masculinity and femininity as we construct it is completely arbitrary. In fact I would say that the ‘masculine virtues’–self reliance and providing/protecting for others–are actually properly termed ‘adult virtues’ and feminine qualities are more properly termed ‘child-like qualities.’ In that sense, ‘marginalizing’ femininity has nothing to do with marginalizing actual women and more to do with marginalizing childishness which is arbitrarily associated with women.

    It would be good if we stop associating adulthood with masculinity and childhood with femininity.

    Also and, most importantly, when a man is in need (feminine) he is not treated like a woman who is in need is treated. He’s treated far, far worse. So, obviously a feminized man is not really entering into the category ‘woman’, he’s entering into an entirely different category. If he was moved from the category man to the category woman he would actually be far more likely to be helped when he is in need.

    Finally, black people also stigmatize each other for acting ‘white’. The fact that men stigmatize other men for acting ‘female’ does not, in itself, say anything about any hierarchy.

  116. Clarence says:

    Heh:
    Watching SO and TB go at it is kinda fun. Startled, Typhon has been doing this and exploring these issues for a very long time. I think you are going to have your tentacles full! Should be fun. When you are done, I’ll give you both some popcorn 🙂

  117. “Being called ‘manly’ isn’t exactly a compliment for any woman. Gender policing is bidirectional.”

    Being called ‘one of the guys’ is usually a compliment. Fighting ‘like a man’ is usually a compliment. To be funny ‘like a man’ is usually a compliment. Handling things ‘like a man’ is usually a compliment.

    “Also, as far as I can tell, masculinity and femininity as we construct it is completely arbitrary. In fact I would say that the ‘masculine virtues’–self reliance and providing/protecting for others–are actually properly termed ‘adult virtues’ and feminine qualities are more properly termed ‘child-like qualities.’ ”

    Some masculine “virtues” are considered adult and some child-like. Some feminine “virtues” are considered adult and some child-like. Such virtues and qualities are applied and expected of the man and woman, accurately or not. If the question is whether ciswomen and cismen are on a level playing field in society then the goal is to determine which of these virtues/qualities are considered powerful or less-than, and whether they accurately describe the individual.

    “Also and, most importantly, when a man is in need (feminine) he is not treated like a woman who is in need is treated. He’s treated far, far worse.”

    Depending on the need.

    “So, obviously a feminized man is not really entering into the category ‘woman’, he’s entering into an entirely different category. If he was moved from the category man to the category woman he would actually be far more likely to be helped when he is in need.”

    What is the need? Is the need more likely to be helped due to economic or functional necessity (i.e., it benefits others) or because the issue doesn’t come with gendered stigma?

  118. typhonblue says:

    @ Collette Wedding

    “Being called ‘one of the guys’ is usually a compliment. Fighting ‘like a man’ is usually a compliment. To be funny ‘like a man’ is usually a compliment. Handling things ‘like a man’ is usually a compliment.”

    Stay at home fathers with kids are called ‘mr. mom’; research into fatherhood says ‘fathers mother too!’; paternalism and patriarchy are insults that marginalize male nurturing. Saying a man is ‘one of the girls’ is also considered a compliment. Or that a man ‘understands women’. A ladies man is often considered complimentary(although it intersects with our belief in the sexual predatoriness of men and has a sexual connotation.)

    Being more or less like a woman or a man depends on circumstance. If a circumstance requires stereotypically feminine traits, being more like a woman is seen as a good thing; if it requires stereotypically masculine traits, being more like a man is a good thing.

    I would say the problem is how we genderize toughness and nurturing and apportion them to one sex or the other when it’s obvious that this is nonsense.

    “Some masculine “virtues” are considered adult and some child-like. Some feminine “virtues” are considered adult and some child-like. Such virtues and qualities are applied and expected of the man and woman, accurately or not.”

    For the most part everytime someone says ‘be a man’, ‘real men don’t’, or ‘man up’ you could replace the word ‘man’ with ‘adult’ and loose none of the meaning.

    As far as I can tell common phrases in which the word woman is used similar to the way adult is used. Here and there, maybe ‘big girl’ as in ‘be a big girl’. But it still doesn’t have the cache of ‘be a man’.

    “If the question is whether ciswomen and cismen are on a level playing field in society then the goal is to determine which of these virtues/qualities are considered powerful or less-than, and whether they accurately describe the individual.”

    Again, the phrase ‘man’ is basically synonymous with ‘adult’. Get rid of this connection and everyone will be subject to a neutral, non-gendered expectation of adulthood, ie. to use their strengths to serve the weaker members of society, look to themselves to solve their problems and see themselves as actors in their lives first and not as acted upon.

    Manhood needs to be disconnected from adulthood.

    This schism between ‘man=adult’; ‘woman=child’ also is beneficial to women(whether they want the benefits is another matter). It allows women to be seen as helpless and in need and for men, as adults, to be responsible for their helplessness and need.

    “Depending on the need.”

    Give an example of the need you’re thinking of. What need do you think men have that they get met more then women?

    “What is the need? Is the need more likely to be helped due to economic or functional necessity (i.e., it benefits others) or because the issue doesn’t come with gendered stigma?”

    Health care. Financial assistance. Physical assistance. Police assistance. Preferential intervention when threatened. Preferential aid in war torn areas(recent example; rape during wartime and how NGOs ignore male victims). Being less likely to be targeted by violent non-sexual crime(rape being in the air in terms of who’s victimized more.) Having more time and money devoted to causes that affect you. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

  119. typhonblue says:

    “As far as I can tell common phrases in which the word woman is used similar to the way adult is used.”

    This sentence should read:

    “As far as I can tell there are no common phrases in which the word woman is used similar to the way adult is used.”

  120. debaser71 says:

    “Stay at home fathers with kids are called ‘mr. mom’; research into fatherhood says ‘fathers mother too!’; paternalism and patriarchy are insults that marginalize male nurturing. Saying a man is ‘one of the girls’ is also considered a compliment. Or that a man ‘understands women’.”

    I’m having a hard time following what is being said by whom and to whom what is being said. And at this point I can’t tell what is sarcasm and what is intended to be taken at face value.

    Anyone who calls me “Mr. Mom” or suggests that I am “mothering” will at best get glared at by me. At worst they’ll get an earful. These are not compliments. These phrases imply that since I am a man, I am incapable of being a parent. Quite literally such phrases are a direct insult on my parenting ability. And since parenting is my life, yeah, I take it personally. But, of course, I can’t let someone’s ignorant comments, intended to be complimentary, ruin my day. So maybe I’ll just nod and try to accept the compliment…but I hope the look on my face makes them think about their words a bit more carefully next time. When I’m at the supermarket, I’m there to shop, not get into arguments over language with nice people.

    I also use the words “parent” and “adult” in a manner in which you say (and maybe I am mis-reading what has been written) people do not. And since I only have daughters any notion that, by default, manhood = adulthood (in language) is as far removed from my reality as one can possibly get.

    Anyway I can only speak for myself.

  121. typhonblue says:

    @ debaser

    “And since I only have daughters any notion that, by default, manhood = adulthood (in language) is as far removed from my reality as one can possibly get.”

    It should be. But people are using these phrases ‘man up’ ‘be a man’ in ways that is synonymous with adulthood and being grown up. Not only does it make a man’s gender identity contingent on other people’s decisions if he’s demonstrated his strength by serving their interests enough, it also makes the behaviors of adults only something men are expected to achieve _in order to be called men_.

    It’s absurd. And it’s not really about ‘privileging’ masculinity; it’s about manhood co-opting forms of strength that _shouldn’t be gendered in the first place_. These forms of strength will always be virtues we aspire to, and they should be, because the more people who are strong for those who are weak, the better our life gets here on planet Earth.

    Manhood(adulthood) will always be placed above womanhood(childhood) because women(children) are reliant on men(adults). However when men fail to have manhood(adulthood) they don’t appropriate the status of women(children); they just fail to be adult. And when an adult fails no one gives him help because he’s expected to help himself. He’s an adult after all, he can’t become a child, he can only become a failed adult.

    Women, on the other hand, are expected to receive help when they fail. Because they are children(not men) and can’t be expected to help themselves.

  122. typhonblue says:

    Look at it this way. When an adult fails to uphold adult virtues we say ‘you’re acting like a child.’ We don’t say the adult IS a child nor do we treat them like one. Because if we did treat a failed adult like a child, we would attempt to assist them when they fail. But an adult, unlike a child, is seen as responsible for their failure because an adult is supposed to have the means not to fail.

    Does this process really marginalize children? Or just shame adults for not being the kind of people children can rely on?

  123. Jim says:

    ““Being called ‘one of the guys’ is usually a compliment. Fighting ‘like a man’ is usually a compliment. To be funny ‘like a man’ is usually a compliment. Handling things ‘like a man’ is usually a compliment.”

    Collette, I remember hearing stuff like this 20 years ago in the Army among officers, and even back then it was always said with at least a touch of irony, because people understood it was condescending and misogynist.

    SO:
    “But there’s nothing non-marginalizing about being considered weaker,….”

    YES! Behold the misogyny of gender feminism and its rape narrative, its DV narative, its……

  124. Jim says:

    “That’s what I am objecting to here, to make that clear, not the discussion of the pain of emotional repression, but the silly notion that women, and queer/trans people are being privileged here.

    (Also, typhonblue, your erasure of the oppression of trans people, particularly of trans women, is offensive in all sorts of ways. Cis people do not actually have to deal with the shit trans people are dealing with on a regular basis, so cut the crap.)”

    DSC, your comment is problematic for a number of reasons, the the one that stabds out that it is not repsonding to anything that has been said here. TB is not erasing trans people by not discussing them, nor is anyone else.

    And as a gay man, I find this part stupid, uninformed and offensive:
    “but the silly notion that women, and queer/trans people are being privileged here.”

    No one here made any claim that gay men as opposed to straight men have some kind of license to show emotions because it’s just stupid – we damned sure don’t have any such license. It’s one of the behaviors that is most heavily stigmatized in any man regardless of orientation. Take it from me. Women however do have that exact permission. It’s considered feminine. I imagine women even fake displays of emotion to perform that toxic kind of feminiity, the same way some speak in artifically high voices. Fucking annoying.

  125. Paul says:

    ““But the fact that they’re insulted via an association with femininity should be a hint that cis women and cis men are not on a level playing field””

    Err… by this logic,”butch” women should be doing just awesome, right?

  126. SpudTater says:

    > Yes, okay, “allowed” may be putting it strongly, but I think we here are all hip enough to know what I mean.

    No, go ahead and say “allowed”. I remember, as a child, my dad threatening me with violence because I was crying. That’s pretty fucked up — and that’s from a man I regard as largely fair and caring.

    And yes, I’m also focusing on the emotion of grief, but then I think that’s the male emotion which is most heavily policed. Expressing joy or love will, most usually, get you odd looks or good-humoured ribbing. Crying could mean social death.

  127. darksidecat says:

    @Jim, typhonblue was clearly attempting to conflate his experiences as a cis het person with those of transsexuals. He was the one who conflated cis het maleness with being a trans person first (about a dozen fucking times), not me, and he shouldn’t have. He is coopting trans experience to try and make a cheap and ridiculous point and it is offensive to me. Also, it is worth noting that he is making exactly the claim that I attribute to him, that women and trans people are being privileged in this (I mentioned gay men and the “fag” insult as well because typhonblue raised it first by including it in his list of attacks on cis male gender identity, and the invocation of “fag” as an insult is meant to be insulting by suggesting queer people and/or feminine people are inferior and the person being targeted is like them and therefore inferior). Shit, he is even going on a misogynistic rant about how women being viewed as incompetant is a rewarding privilege. You are acting pretty oblivious here if you think the behavior I am calling out is not occuring.

  128. typhonblue says:

    @ Darksidecat

    I’m a woman with (relatively mild) gender dysphoria. In that I don’t identify as a transman but neither do I completely identify with being female. In my particular case this was due to sexual abuse by a woman while I was a child. (I’m not AT ALL saying that gender dysphoria is always a result of sexual abuse just that, in my case, that was what instigated it.)

  129. typhonblue says:

    Oh yeah, I’m also bisexual. And disabled. (I don’t like talking about these things because I don’t want to focus on how I’ve been ‘acted upon’ and my passive attributes.)

    “Shit, he is even going on a misogynistic rant about how women being viewed as incompetant is a rewarding privilege.”

    It is when you are actually IN NEED! Whereas tying someone’s gender identity to never being in need is a definite detriment when that person is, indeed, in need.

    Conversely, tying a person’s gender identity to being in need all the time is detrimental to them as well.

    That’s why I propose decoupling what are actually the virtues of adults from manhood.

  130. darksidecat says:

    I apologize for misgendering you, typhoon, I stand by the rest of my statements.

  131. typhonblue says:

    @ darksidecat

    “I apologize for misgendering you, typhoon, I stand by the rest of my statements.”

    Typhon. And the rest of your statements are… at best distortions of what I said.

    I know exactly what it’s like to have my gender identity questioned. I’ve been called ‘it'(I’m not going to go any further into what happened to me. Suffice to say it wasn’t fun.)

    And I see the parallel between what I went through and what men go through every day with phrases like ‘be a real man’; ‘man up’; and all the other ways their gender identity is questioned and made contingent on things outside their control.

  132. typhonblue says:

    @ Darksidecat

    “Shit, he is even going on a misogynistic rant about how women being viewed as incompetant is a rewarding privilege.”

    I don’t think that women being viewed as incompetent, or weak or victims is a privilege *overall.*

    In fact if I allow that there are absolutely no benefits to being seen as a victim, then any movement or philosophy that promotes a view of women as victims or ‘acted upon’ by men in a way that men aren’t ‘acted upon’ by women is deeply misogynistic, perhaps even willfully and deliberately so.

    Wouldn’t you agree?

  133. Jim says:

    DSC, youare way out of line with your last commnet. You are ignorant and offensive, especially with these two.

    “and the invocation of “fag” as an insult is meant to be insulting by suggesting queer people and/or feminine people are inferior and the person being targeted is like them and therefore inferior).”

    Do NOT presume to tell a gay man what the “fag” insult means or how it is meant. I assure you I have forgotten more about it than you can ever know. If the slur “fag” refers to feminine people, then why is it never aimed at women? Your tired “homphobia is misogyny” trope is offensive appropriation. It is also offensive erasure of the homphobia aimed at lesbians, since that homophobia is based on their failure to perform femininity rather than on their supposed performance of it.

    You continue with your arogant condescension with this:

    “You are acting pretty oblivious here if you think the behavior I am calling out is not occuring.”

    You are saying that I am oblivious because I disagree with you. That is how a spoiled brat, perhaps someone educated in an echo chamber, argues. In fact as TB points out, you are distorting her remarks, and now you are saying I am oblivious because I don’t agree with your distortions. There is a clinical name for that kind of behavior.

  134. BlackHumor says:

    @Jim: But “fag” and all gay slurs are also slurs against feminine men. Come on, you know this; unless you’re Chuck Norris someone must’ve called you gay as an insult some time in your life. And I bet they weren’t watching you literally fuck men either.

    Matter of fact “dyke” is the most common slur against masculine women, too. Accusations of gayness are one of the biggest weapons of the gender police.

  135. typhonblue says:

    @ BlackHumor

    “Matter of fact “dyke” is the most common slur against masculine women, too. Accusations of gayness are one of the biggest weapons of the gender police.”

    And that’s misandry?

  136. BlackHumor says:

    It’s stupid, certainly.

    I don’t really agree that “fag” is misogynist, in that it’s not saying that being a woman is bad, it’s being a woman when you’re a man that’s bad. It’s just as messed up, of course, but it’s not strictly woman hating.

  137. Jim says:

    “@Jim: But “fag” and all gay slurs are also slurs against feminine men. ”

    BH, they are also slurs against masculine men who have sex with men, men who are so masculine that straight men imitate their tyles such as goatees and all kinds of clothing fashions. And they are not slurs against feminine women, so I don’t agree that femininity is the target of those slurs.

    Though, wait – of course there are backward types who think that having sex with women is the essence of manhood – how is that for female privilege, getting to define men’s gender for them – so you do have a point. Except that no, it still doesn’t apply to all uses of the slur.

  138. Jim says:

    “I don’t really agree that “fag” is misogynist, in that it’s not saying that being a woman is bad, it’s being a woman when you’re a man that’s bad. It’s just as messed up, of course, but it’s not strictly woman hating.”

    Yes. It is more like saying it’s bad to act white or to presume to act white by wanting access to whites-only areas of life when you are non-white. That is hardly “white-hating” or “misxanthia” (or whatever silly, poseur neologism we decide to coin.) In fact it is anti-black racism. So “fag” is basically misandrous – not that something can’t be both at the same time; this just doesn’t happen to be most of the time.

    This is why it’s not misogynist – because it is not women-hating, it’s femininity-hating. “Fag” may be an attack on someone acting feminine, but feminine=/ woman. Isn’t this an example of the difference between sex and gender?

  139. typhonblue says:

    @ Jim

    ” feminine=/ woman.”

    EXACTLY! What we consider ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ is, in many respects utterly arbitrary. As I pointed out above, a good portion of ‘feminine’ traits–emotional flamboyance, lack of emotional control, weakness, general incompetency, tendency to lie and manipulate–are actually better termed ‘childish’ traits (with the positive traits, innocence, warmth, expressiveness, vulnerability being better termed ‘child-like’ traits.)

    Whereas a good portion of ‘masculine’ traits are actually adult traits. Both bad and good. Stoicism, honesty, strength, physical self-sacrifice, protectiveness, greater agency etc being good. The greater capacity for violence and exploitative sexuality being bad.

    What we need to do is stop associating childishness with femininity and adulthood with masculinity.

  140. Jim says:

    “As I pointed out above, a good portion of ‘feminine’ traits–emotional flamboyance, lack of emotional control, weakness, general incompetency, …”

    And this is very culture-specific. When I got back to the US form living for years in Germany, where the only other American women were either soldiers or wives, what struck me immeidatley about women here was the high-pitched voices and the general effort to talk like ditzes. And I didn’t remember it from earlier before I left. It was quite striking. It was as if their notion of femininity relied so heavily on an assumption of weakness that the more economic and political power they got, they more they had to compensate by presenting themselves as eternal tweeners.

    I said I hadn’t remembered it from earlier, but now I remember a commnet my aunt said about Southern women she was around during WWII, when the family was re-assigned to North Carolina. She said she hated the way they all chirped and screeched at each other. This was only the rich white women – quite powerful in that society obviously, but that power rested on getting their men to think of them as under continual threat.

    “What we need to do is stop associating childishness with femininity and adulthood with masculinity.”

    Adulthood with masculinity – this actually is an abusive dynamic that elementary teachers look for in boy pupils in these days when so many grow up without fathers in the home. Their mothers draft them to be “the man of the house”. It’s a really abusive and destructive situation. It destroys and denies them their childhood.

  141. Jim says:

    “Whereas a good portion of ‘masculine’ traits are actually adult traits. Both bad and good. Stoicism, honesty, strength, physical self-sacrifice, protectiveness, greater agency etc being good. The greater capacity for violence and exploitative sexuality being bad. ”

    How does a figure like Galadriel stack up against this standard? That’s how far we have fallen in such a short time.

  142. Danny says:

    Jim:
    Yes. It is more like saying it’s bad to act white or to presume to act white by wanting access to whites-only areas of life when you are non-white. That is hardly “white-hating” or “misxanthia” (or whatever silly, poseur neologism we decide to coin.) In fact it is anti-black racism. So “fag” is basically misandrous – not that something can’t be both at the same time; this just doesn’t happen to be most of the time.

    This is why it’s not misogynist – because it is not women-hating, it’s femininity-hating. “Fag” may be an attack on someone acting feminine, but feminine=/ woman. Isn’t this an example of the difference between sex and gender?
    Oh my god thank you Jim!

    I’ve been puzzled for so long trying to figure out how in the world homophobia against gay men is misogyny (because conversely I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that homophobia against gay women is misandry, no that’s still somehow misogyny, if gender is being taken into account how can homophobia always be hatred against one gender and one gender only?). Its not like gay guys are attacked for doing something that’s associated with being a woman but rather that its something that is strictly forbidden (in the mind of said gay basher) for men to do.

  143. Titfortat says:

    @Danny

    An interesting point about the terms fag or gay is that they arent necessarily used to describe all homosexual men. It is generally used as a slur against an effeminate(feminine being weaker) man. The misconception is that homosexual men are generally effeminate, which obviously is completely erroneous. I can see how some people could twist that to mean hatred towards women but it is pretty clear that they are just generalizing about the average strength of a woman compared to a man.

  144. Schala says:

    “You know her better than I, of course, but reading just what you write that she says, it looks like she was saying “it distresses me to see you upset” rather than “don’t cry, it’s not manly”, since she followed it up with “feel better”. I know that I have said “I don’t like to see you cry” to my daughter and that is exactly what I meant. When I have said that, it was a statement of empathy, not judgment. Now maybe your girlfriend meant exactly what you thought she meant. As I say, I wasn’t there and you were.”

    Sort of like men who go to women and ask them to smile for them when they’re not initially? It’s empathy? About wanting them not to be sad?

    But still, as Tamen said, it’s making it about you, so it’s a socially maladroit-way of doing so.

  145. Schala says:

    @Titfortat

    The word ‘effeminate’ itself is pejorative, and I don’t use it for the same reason I don’t use fag or nigger. I say feminine, wether it’s a boy, girl, man, or woman being discussed.

  146. typhonblue says:

    @ Titfortat

    “I can see how some people could twist that to mean hatred towards women but it is pretty clear that they are just generalizing about the average strength of a woman compared to a man.”

    In what context though? Here’s where the people who believe in women’s greater vulnerability and I part ways.

    Yes, women are more physically vulnerable. But they also have an influential, organizing power that they can employ on behalf of their interests that men do not have.

  147. Titfortat says:

    @typhonblue

    I was referring mostly to physical size and strength. I know there are some studies that show women can have an advantage with distance cardio activities but on the whole pretty much every physical endeavour show men having the advantage. This does not say that in individual cases the woman cant be the one with the advantage, I am only going by the overall average. I am not making any claim in regards to being vulnerable.

  148. OrangeYouGlad says:

    First thing, this is the first place I have ever seen it recognised that homophobia =/= misogyny and I am wordlessly grateful in the same capacity that I’ve found myself wordlessly frustrated after long attempts to explain how wrong that is as a concept in the past.

    I lost the ability to access the site right as I was going to post the following earlier. It’s a little less relevant now and I could probably get away with just expressing my gratitude (and you have no idea how great it is) but I still wanted to say my piece. So, here’s my belated and somewhat out of place comment on the matter:

    I wanted to throw into the conversation that I think the fact that cis people *have* gender identities is being recognized is a good thing. I find the treatment of gender identities as something only-those-trans-people-have-not-us-cis-folk to be both tiresome and damaging. HOWEVER I will say there are some major differences in the case of a trans person vs. a cis person having their gender identity questioned…cis people are not considered literally certifiably insane when they try to reassert their gender identity and it’s not called into question with the same seriousness. However, that doesn’t change the fact that having one’s gender identity challenged sucks in itself so even if the results are milder and the danger less I still think it is important to recognize that cis men have gender identities also and that questioning it is harmful (and recognizing that doesn’t have to take away from recognizing that, due to transphobia in society, a trans person is going to have it worse when their identity is challenged). I also think typhon makes an excellent point in regards to the treatment of femininity in women and gay men (cis and trans). I also want to add that as a gay man I do not like the way my experiences are frequently equated to the experiences of cis het women.

    Also, I really dislike the idea that gay men are insulted through femininity/misogyny (which of course ties the issue back to women). I notice, when I was in early highschool and it was against the law for me to commit “sodomy” the law wasn’t ” it’s only a crime to commit “sodomy” if you are a feminine man”, it was a crime to “commit sodomy”, period. Similarly, two perfectly masculine men showing affection for one another are probably still going to be addressed as “faggots”.

  149. darksidecat says:

    Sexism, transphobia, and homophobia aren’t the same thing, but they are interrelated at times. I don’t recall ever making the claim that all homophobia is sexism, oh, wait, that’s cause I didn’t. I made the claim that shaming men for femininity and presumed sexuality does not function as an attack on cis hetero masculine men as inferior, but rather an attack by associating them with groups seen as inferior. “Fag” is an insult used against queer men, both butch and femme, and femme men, both hetero and queer, and is used as an insult by association with queerness and femininity, respectively, not as an insult by association with heterosexuality or masculinity respectively. That’s why I said “queer and/or feminine people” and did not just say femininity or women. And I included queer and trans people as well as cis women in my earlier comment as well What I said, verbatim: ” The lower status being invoked here is the status of woman or queer/trans person. The notion that emotion makes a cis het man bad because it makes him like the trans people, the queer people, and the women is pretty solidly placing him at the top of that heirarchy.” You are attacking a strawman here, not my actual statements at all.

    In addition, the claim that femininity is not heavily associated with women is pretty absurd. In fact, the typical dictionary definition of feminine is traits associated with a woman (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminine). While in reality there are people of all genders who enjoy activities, have desires, etc. that are culturally coded as feminine, the reason those things are referred to as “feminine traits” rather than “mascline traits” or “human traits” is precisely because of their association with women and women’s expected gender roles.

    Trying to apply a sharp line between sex and gender doesn’t work well theoretically either, because we assign sex based on gender ideals in many ways and we assign expected social gender based on sex (i.e. genitals at birth and what sex we think someone was assigned at birth based on secondary characateristic and gender presentation).

    Also typhon, you have it backwards, women are the black people in your analogy, and men the white ones.

  150. Schala says:

    @darksidecat

    Like Typhon said before, why gay men get associated with feminity and get called negatively is because femaleness is assumed to mean childhood levels of responsibility, while maleness is assumed to mean adulthood levels of responsibility…so if you are male, but not masculine, you are worthless, not a child, but a failed adult.

    It’s assumed to be a way to dodge their responsibilities.

  151. OrangeYouGlad says:

    “Fag” is used as an insult against straight effeminate men because effeminate men are the most visible of queer men when not doing somethine else that would merit the insult (notice how a perfectly masculine man could also recieve this insult if he displaying too much emotion, affection, closeness, etc. towards men* or displaying an interest in something that is typically thought to be homosexual in nature (i.e. show tunes)).

    Accusing men of being “girly” or otherwise like a woman when showing gender varience is a display of transphobia and homophobia**. Cross-gender expression is the problem here, not “womanliness”. Which is why butch lesbians, who are close to socially masculine as (currently) possible for female-bodied people still catch crap for their gender expression *much the way men do*. Women caught even more crap for cross-gender expression when they were more firmly socially “below men” than today, the fact they were more likely to be laughed at for wearing trousers and the fact cutting their hair short was “appalling” was hardly evidence that men were a “low status” group. Humanity simply takes issue with cross-gender expression regardless of the relative status of the genders. That hasn’t changed. “Fag” and “pussy” are not insults because of the low status of women, they would be insults against cross-gender expressive men regardless of the status of women, because *cross-gender expression* is the issue.

    *towards women you’ll usually hear some varient of “pussywhipped” instead (and you’d have a better arguement it’s sexist in that case).
    **both being means of cross-gender expression in one way or another.

  152. Titfortat says:

    @Schala

    There may be some people who equate femaleness with children but I think the more common usage in regards to gay men is because of strength. It(imo) is more of a slur on the man for seeming weaker than, not because of child level responsibility.

  153. Schala says:

    Not pulling your weight, being a freeloader, ergo, failing to meet your responsabilities.

  154. Schala says:

    Innocence and moral purity are things we also associate with children.

  155. Jim says:

    “I don’t recall ever making the claim that all homophobia is sexism, oh, wait, that’s cause I didn’t. ”

    I don’t recall any of saying you did, because, oh, wait, we didn’t. You equated it with misogyny and that is what we are discussing. It is not and it appropriation to say it is. That’s all I am saying.

    “In addition, the claim that femininity is not heavily associated with women is pretty absurd. ”
    Another starwman, since no one hears denies the “association.” We deny the equation of feminity with womanhood. see the diffnernce? And I would have thought this hardly needed explaining in a feminist context. I thought the sex=/= gender observation was pretty generally accpeted among feminists. Do you consider yourself a feminst? If so, how so?

    “Fag” is an insult used against queer men, both butch and femme, and femme men, both hetero and queer, and is used as an insult by association with queerness and femininity, respectively, not as an insult by association with heterosexuality or masculinity respectively. ”

    First off this bit “Fag” is an insult used against queer men, both butch and femme, …” pretty much discredits you as any kind of commenter on cultural attitudes such as word usage. Those terms have been out of curency for at least 40 years, along with calling each other Mary. They may still be used amomng lesbians, but what relevance does that have to homphobia directed at men? If you are going to be this wrong on a pretty basic terminological point……

    Second , you are just wrong about the content of the slur being about femininity except maybe secondarily. It is about weakness. Of course femininity is identified with weakness in this sick culture, but that si only secoinadry. calling someone a faggot means you thnk he is failing to perfom masculinity, not that he is managing to perform femininity. Femininity and masculinity are not a binary. Are they? I have a friend who is fully masculine (straight) and more fully feminine that most women I know.

  156. darksidecat says:

    @Jim, there is an entire blog called “femme guy” which primarily focuses on queer femme guys (http://femmeguy.wordpress.com/) fairly mainstream areas of discussion include usages of the terms (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080226130555AAfKvxM http://www.afterelton.com/askmonkey/uncaged-butch-versus-femme http://www.queerty.com/chris-crocker-wants-all-you-masculine-gays-to-stop-hating-on-the-femmes-20110505/). It’s not at all hard to find contemporary usages of these terms by queer men in discussion, particularly of “femme”. Maybe you should recheck your assumptions about what words all queer communities use.

    Also, the fact that queer men of a variety of presentations experience homophobia is totally relevant to discussion of homophobic slurs.

    I am a feminist, and definitions of sex and gender are circular. Society assigns sex based on our gender assumptions (look at intersexed people), and society assigns gender based on genitals or presumed genitals. There are no neat lines here, either in regular usage of the terms or in actual social definintions of these categories.

    “Femininity and masculinity are not a binary. Are they?” Defining these terms as cultural norms, they most certainly are. Discussions of the “feminine” and “masculine” are conceptualized within those cultural norms, they are nonsensical outside of them. Speaking of the masculine as the male associated/male expected and the feminine as the female associated/female expected can’t really be done without acknowledging the fact that it is utilizing binary framework terms. Those expectations fail to cover and respect human diversity, but this is a discussion using binary framework tools masculine/feminine man/woman, I don’t see a discussion of nonbinary frameworks of discussion defining the masculine and feminine, except perhaps a specturm view that is positing them as opposites. We aren’t using the five sexes model here, and you know it. While we sometimes use binary words and models because we aren’t taught or given much else when we try to problematize them, masculine vs feminine is by structure one of those binary model.

    @orangeyouglad, the notion of women as a distinct, seperate class is necessary for the very notion of “cross gender” presenting in the first place. It is a concept that only applies where there is a notion of a gender class line to cross. Let’s see if I can give you an analogy to try to demonstrate how the harsh enforcement of class line behavior is meant to reinscribe the lower classes lower position and the upper classes higher position. Let’s consider the old caste system of India. Shudras were socially punished for doing tasks relegated to untouchables, and untouchables were forbidden from many tasks of the shudra. Was this punishment mere class line crossing punishment that treats the tasks as value neutral? Like hell it wasn’t. The untouchables were prohibited from certain work to keep them from gaining skills and having the higher status of the shudra. They were forbidden to keep the untouchables in their subordinate place in society. The shudra were forbidden from doing untouchable tasks, which were lower, because doing them threatened the notion that the shudra were distinct, seperate, and better than the untouchables. If shudra are not different than untouchable, what justification can there be for the unjust system? The goal in discouraging activity associated with the untouchables was to reinscribe the higher status of the shudra. Accusing a shudra of being like an untouchable was accusing them of being the “inferior” class.

    The very reason for punishment of “cross gendered” presentation is a set of class distinctions in regards to sex and gender. The punishment makes no sense unless the segregation system predates it. Homophobia, transphobia, and sexism have areas that overlap a lot, and areas that don’t overlap too much, but this punishment of disobeying the class lines only occurs because one class is socially placed above the other and the boundaries between the upper and lower are preserved to ensure it stays that way. Think about it, if the feminine were truly as socially desirable as the masuline in cultural mythos, what function would that seperating wall serve? Shouldn’t you end up with people who want to do a variety of these roles without coercion or the need to draft certain subgroups into certain roles?

  157. typhonblue says:

    @ Darksidecat

    Your analogy is deeply flawed. How many Shudra gave their lives to save untouchables? Or worked so that an untouchable could live in relative security and safety(modern convenience reducing the average home workload from 12 hours a day six days a week to 3 hours a day, even more if you include daycare, domestic help, etc.) And while the Shudra and the Untouchables have a wage gap, I highly doubt the spending gap favors the Untouchables. Nor do the Untouchables hold a proportionate(or greater) share of the wealth. Nor are the Untouchables equally represented in the best jobs while the Shudra are over represented in the worst. Nor do the Untouchables live longer then the Shudra, commit suicide less often, receive more health care funding and education.

    Your schema completely omits a huge portion of observable phenomena.

    Also, black equals male and white equals female because although white people feel free co-opting black culture and styles there is a stigma against black people ‘acting white.’

  158. Jim says:

    darksidecat, you are making a real effort to show how hopelessly uninformed on this subject.

    First you have the kind of arrogance that only come from ignorance to dispute with two gay men here, OrangeYouGlad and me, how the slur “fag” is used and what the exact shape of the gender norm it is used to police. This is a gender norm that unlike you, he and I were socialized into and which we understand in ways you can never hope to. Our understanding is experiential while yours is quite obviously theoretical. Guess which one is more valid.

    You confirm how shallow your understanding is by linking to a few websaites that use the term “femme” . Apparently unaware that the term is being used as a repalcement for the derogatory and much mre current “queeny”, in the hopes perhaps that it will take hold as a non-derogatory varient. You seem unaware of this.

    And then you arrogantly tell me “Maybe you should recheck your assumptions about what words all queer communities use. ” Excuse me – “queer communities? Lesbians have no place or part in the use of femme or butch when it applies to gay men. They can use those terms in their own communities if they like, and in fact that is where I see them being used. You may well find gay men who use those terms, probably under the influence of lesbians allies. Good for them. That doesn’t make the usage common or standard. So don’t come and lecture me on the matter.

    “Defining these terms as cultural norms, they most certainly are. ”

    You presume here to define what those cultural terms are, after we told you that we had different definitions that are work at three settings, not two. We derive this definition from our own experiences of masculine gender policing, which is the topic under discussion, something you have not experienced and probably only randomly observed. You are presuming to tell us our lives. Why is that? Where did you learn such a hegemonic attitude? And what is it to you anyway? I suspect that it is because it is crucial to you to maintain the rhetorical advantage of female victimhood. That is appropriation, and it is unacceptable. Do you understand?

    “Accusing a shudra of being like an untouchable was accusing them of being the “inferior” class.”

    Non-repsonsive to OYG’s point – are you then saying that when a butch lesbian is condemned for acting and dressing “mannish” she is being accused of imitating an inferior class?

    You probably mean well, but you are starting make an ass and a fool out of yoursdlf in this discussion. Good intentions are not good enough.

  159. Clarence says:

    Yeah, it’s like Ballgame of Feminist Critics says:
    Sexual oppression is not unidirectional so a class analysis really doesn’t fit it.

  160. typhonblue says:

    @ darksidecat

    This is something that baffles me. You’ve said there is absolutely no benefit to women in being marginalized as vulnerable, weak, victims.

    And yet, here you are, promoting the very view of women-that they are vulnerable victims-that you say is misogynist and offers women no benefit.

    Perhaps your consciousness, as a woman, is not as raised as you think it is, since you’re promoting the patriarchal model of womanhood.

  161. OrangeYouGlad says:

    “”The very reason for punishment of “cross gendered” presentation is a set of class distinctions in regards to sex and gender. The punishment makes no sense unless the segregation system predates it. Homophobia, transphobia, and sexism have areas that overlap a lot, and areas that don’t overlap too much, but this punishment of disobeying the class lines only occurs because one class is socially placed above the other and the boundaries between the upper and lower are preserved to ensure it stays that way. Think about it, if the feminine were truly as socially desirable as the masuline in cultural mythos, what function would that seperating wall serve? Shouldn’t you end up with people who want to do a variety of these roles without coercion or the need to draft certain subgroups into certain roles?””

    You assume that’s the very reason for punishment for cross-gender expression. It could be that most Western nations are relying on a book written by nomads in a desert living very rough lives where reprodution would have been valued and things that obscured that goal would be condemned (i.e. homosexuality for leading to no children, and trans identities for obscuring who can breed with whom). And that’s not getting into the specific cultural mores of the region in regards to male-on-male rape as a wartime method of humiliating and subjugating your enemy and etc.

    As for ending up with people who want to do a variety of these roles without coercion or the need to draft certain subgroups into certain roles. You do end up with that, that’s exactly what cross-gender expression is (hell, that’s what non-cross-gender expression is, too, some people like their expected gender role and some don’t).

    Also, just throwing in, Jim’s pretty spot on, on this:

    “”And then you arrogantly tell me “Maybe you should recheck your assumptions about what words all queer communities use. ” Excuse me – “queer communities? Lesbians have no place or part in the use of femme or butch when it applies to gay men. They can use those terms in their own communities if they like, and in fact that is where I see them being used. You may well find gay men who use those terms, probably under the influence of lesbians allies. Good for them. That doesn’t make the usage common or standard. So don’t come and lecture me on the matter.””

    I don’t see “butch and “femme” in any common use in the gay *male* community either and roughly five links to internet sites isn’t going to convince me that it is. Especially since one of the links, title aside, immediately fell back into the familiar pattern of effeminate/masculine. It may not be difficult to find counter-examples but honestly, this is the internet, it’s not difficult to find *anything*.

  162. Titfortat says:

    Isnt DSC a man?

  163. Danny says:

    Titfortat:
    An interesting point about the terms fag or gay is that they arent necessarily used to describe all homosexual men. It is generally used as a slur against an effeminate(feminine being weaker) man. The misconception is that homosexual men are generally effeminate, which obviously is completely erroneous. I can see how some people could twist that to mean hatred towards women but it is pretty clear that they are just generalizing about the average strength of a woman compared to a man.
    Oh I can understand how it happens but I still think that people are putting in extra effort to shape any and all homophobia as anti-woman. However as people are pointing out here the reason gay men are harassed is because they are doing something that a “real man” is not supposed to do. Its not that they are women its that they are failed men.

  164. Titfortat says:

    . Its not that they are women its that they are failed men.(Danny)

    I think there is some truth in that. 😦

  165. @Noahbrand:
    Great post i like it very much, and generaly agree (even if I have been quite lucky in my life to not experience that much pressure into not expressing my emotions, “acting like a guy is supposed to” and so on… people around me (family and so on) have accepted me the way I am, and besides do not seem to have trouble with men expressing various emotions).
    I had just to add something about it…
    Well, Tamen has already said part of it (July 30, 2011 at 5:30 pm):

    “noahbrand: You forgot to mention the duality when it comes to anger. Yes, it is sort of the one emotion men are required/expected to have to be a “real man”. While at the same time it is not. Male anger is considered a very dangerous and destructive emotion – it is downright demonized in our society. And one ends up with the dilemma: Anger is the one emotion I am allowed to express, but if I do people will be afraid of me and consider me a primitive brute in need of an anger management class. So I would guess plenty of men end up repressiong that emotion as well.”

    But I have to add one other things:
    Anger may be accepted in men, but only as long as it is for reasons that are deemed acceptable by the people around and the society, and as long as the way men express it is considered the correct one…
    As an autistic person I have both personal experience and read the experiences of others about how much meltdowns are not well received, and even less when the people around don’t understand the reason or find it not sufficiently important (and yet I have been very lucky and privileged* on this too… maybe in part because I wasn’t diagnoses until recently)
    Off course concerning anger, I don’t think that women or nonbinary people have less pression than men, and could even have more, and probably even more when it’s about the “unacceptables” kind of anger, (and even if I’m not that much an expert, there are also probably… no, there are also definitely intersections issues in racism, classism, ageism and so on)
    But I think that mostly the post is in the right.
    *I know that this word is not well liked on this blog, but I can’t think of a better word for this

  166. BlackHumor says:

    Just a note here:

    Don’t worry too much about using the word “privilege”. (Especially not in the layman’s sense that you’re using it in.) It’s admittedly not the best jargon term but that doesn’t mean we have anything better yet.

    Other than that, good post.

  167. OrangeYouGlad says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to come up with a better word for that piece of jargon. After all, what is meant by it (that is, “because of the current social structure certain in-born traits advantage you in specific social spheres (implied: and the lack of those traits disadvantage others”) is simply not a concept we have a word for in English. So, finding a new word would require trying to apply that meaning to a pre-existing word of similar meaning (as was done with “privilege” and therefore would likely be equally misleading to those unfamiliar with the second meaning) or we’d have to simply invent a word from scratch which never really works.

    I think it’s probably best to say clearly what one means when it is relevent (such as “here are ways being white gives you certain advantages in certain areas over someone who lacks whiteness because of the structure of society”) than use jargon at all. Jargon will always lock some people (particularly new people) out and I don’t think one would want that in a social movement.

    And yeah, “privilege” as non-jargon is fine. It is a word with real meaning after all. : )

  168. Tamen says:

    Yeah, acknowledging privilege oneself have can’t be said to be offensive and wrong in any way. However, trying to assign privilege to other persons whom one barely knows anything about outside nickname and some comments and perhaps gender would be bad form in my eyes.

    I agree that other than men also experience oppression when it comes to anger – maybe even more so as you said. Women’s anger is socially oppressed and a woman would be considered less feminine and more man-like for expressing anger outright (I guess that would make oppressions of women’s anger to be misandric according to someone’s logic…). I just wanted to point out that anger is not the “safe haven” for men’s emotions and that there are “rules” at play there as well which puts constraints on the anger and rage men can express.

  169. Danny says:

    I just wanted to point out that anger is not the “safe haven” for men’s emotions and that there are “rules” at play there as well which puts constraints on the anger and rage men can express.
    And I’m glad you point that out Tamen. Some people like to think that men just have a blank check on anger to use as we please when that is very much not the case.

  170. OrangeYouGlad says:

    Indeed, no, we are the potent, dangerous, beings of agency after all.

    I remember I was talking about this with some trans men on this exact topic, one of them being a PoC, he said he’d never really thought about his anger much until one day, after he’d been on T long enough to pass well but was still new to the social role of “Man”, he got into a fender-bender with a young white woman. Behaving as he normally would have (or how he was socialised) he got out of his vehicle and slammed the door and was about to “have words” with the woman when a man nearby caught his shoulder before he could say anything and cautioned him, “calm down, man”. While he (and I) agree the other man was right to catch him and talk him down a bit he said it highlighted to him how much he’d been able to get away with before and how he really needed to rethink his behaviour now as Man, and especially, as a Man of Colour.

  171. OrangeYouGlad says:

    “I remember I was talking about this with some trans men on this exact topic” would probably read better as “I remember I was talking about this exact topic with some trans men”. Oops.

  172. Mark says:

    I think the distinction is not the emotions themselves, but the response they motivate. Specifically, it has to do with action versus passivity. Men can grieve, but to be “in mourning” is seen as the domain of women. Men can be angry if some act of (at least symbolic) vengeance ensues, but to merely be passively frustrated is a sign of being too weak to act on the feeling of having been wronged. Even revelry and other highly physical or conspicuous displays of happiness are considered more masculine than feminine. Confronted with fear, men are depicted as fighting or running, whereas women are depicted as screaming or fainting.

    Passive masculinity may be bitter, contemplative, or stoic; otherwise, a lack of dynamism is seen as a lack of manliness.

  173. Pingback: New Comod | No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?

  174. Relm says:

    Personally I think repressing emotions is a good thing. I can’t respect anyone who cries in public, men or women, unless it’s a funeral or something. I don’t understand why most people give women a free pass on this; it’s awkward and horrible to watch a woman cry just as it’s horrible an awkward to watch a man cry. It’s just like, get a grip. Holding back your emotions in a public setting is just part of being an adult, and showing tears will lose you respect in my book. Perhaps I just grew up knowing too many people who used tears as a manipulation tool but seeing people cry just disgusts me.

  175. Izzy says:

    I think that maybe the cause and effect of this issue has become confused. We have more respect for those who are in control of their emotions, particularly when we don’t know them particularly well. If a man is unable to express his pain to his close family and friends, then that is a problem, and I have deep sympathy for those in such a situation. However, I do not believe that it is a common problem. In the situation you describe where we observe the two men suffering, I would respond more favourably to the stoic if I didn’t know the pair well. Excessive emotion from strangers, be that male or female, anger or sorrow is often considered to be socially inappropriate and is very difficult to empathise with. In contrast, were the pair my close friends I would be likely to become frustrated with the stoic for not being willing to let me help him. The idea of “winning” would not cross my mind, because I would be experiencing empathy for their pain.

    So. Men are considered more manly for disguising their emotion in public. What’s wrong with that? Women should as well. You shouldn’t wash your dirty laundry in public, it isn’t civilized. I have no desire to live in a world where we’re all free to express every emotion that crosses our mind – it makes me uncomfortable when people I don’t know behave too familiarly towards me, anger as much as any other emotion. Society is a set of unnatural rules, and we respond favourably to those with the self control to respect them.

  176. femmeguy says:

    Jim, Orange: I certainly hear queer men using the word “butch” for themselves and each other constantly. The butch/femme *culture* certainly doesn’t exist among queer men as it does among queer women, but have you considered that if queer men don’t use the word “femme” as much as the word “butch,” perhaps it’s because femme men are less discussed, or certainly, less apt to be discussed in a neutral/non-insulting tone of voice, because femmeness is less valued than butchness among queer men? http://femmeguy.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/how-can-i-still-be-invisible-just-look-what-i%E2%80%99m-wearing/

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