( published at The Good Men Project and A Voice For Men )
Society has decided that males are terrible communicators who are not in touch with their emotions. In fact, psychologists often maintain that emotions frighten men and many don’t know what or how they are feeling.[i] The perception that males are emotionally “stunted” often leads females to be upset with them or to pressure them to be more open about what is on their mind. “He just won’t talk,” frustrated wives complain,[ii] while others take a more assertive tack— “Share yourself!” they say. If he doesn’t come around, it means there is something wrong with him.[iii]
Experts point to the fact that little boys are discouraged from crying or opening up about their feelings as some sort of proof that men are toxic, emotionless and without passion. This theme is pervasive in the media and in the arts, at colleges and in other educational settings, and in the discussions and interactions that punctuate daily life, but men have been wrongly stereotyped. The fact is that men and women both have feelings, but they exhibit and express them in different ways.
Men are not dispassionate and unloving; they love deeply and enjoy the tingling textures of the world around them. Internal emotions inform and navigate their behavioral decisions, choices and mental judgments. Like women, they experience relationship pain, joy and everyday thrills, and are able to connect with other people on many levels. However, men do not process certain aspects and interactions, including intimate relationships, in the same way as women do. This largely reflects social conditions and a framework embedded in 400,000 years of human DNA.[iv]
And yet, women can’t help but complain about it. They want their male partners to emote or, perhaps, to cry more. Since many of them express their feelings in this way, they believe men should do so, too. But there is something fundamentally wrong with such assertions. Males are being evaluated based on a female-oriented sensitivity meter, which means the yardstick for emotional responsiveness is inherently biased. Because men are deemed inadequate according to this standard, they are assumed to be seriously lacking.
But this is not fair or accurate. Men and women are not equal. There are a wide range of social and physiological differences between them. That doesn’t only mean the obvious differences between males and females; research has shown that the brains of each sex are hard-wired in contrary neuro pathways. In other words, men and women process emotions by way of different behaviors, patterns, at different times and circumstances.[v] They also communicate emotions differently.[vi]
A Common Complaint about Husbands
It is not uncommon to hear a stay-at-home wife or mother complain about a husband who comes home from a long day at work, heaves a sigh of relief, flops his ass down, and zones out in front of a computer screen.[vii] Invariably, female insecurities bubble to the surface. She is disgusted by his escape into video games.[viii] Her inferiority complex kicks into high gear. She wonders if he has fallen out of love and begins to question their relationship. Because they—or she—expected marriage would make things better, they end up arguing—on average, seven times every day.[ix][x]
Why some men escape to the computer. Since the beginning of time, men have been conditioned to avoid causing emotional distress to women and to protect their feelings. At the same time, females have groomed males to lie whenever necessary. Regardless of how he might feel, a man must tell his woman that she is beautiful, pretty and skinny, and that he loves her unconditionally. He must tell her lies each and every day, or else she will experience severe emotional pain.
If a man speaks the truth— “Life has exhausted me.” “I hate my boss and job.” “The pressure is too much.” “I wish I could quit, but we need the paycheck.” “Your bickering is damaging me further.”—he understands that it will cause her serious emotional harm, leading to escalating arguments and the perception that she is unloved. If that happens, he knows the rest of his life will be hell. It is better to suppress what could be seen as an emotional assault on the woman he loves.
Wives Complain about Husbands
Although times have changed, many couples continue to see their relationship in traditional terms. For her part, a stay-at-home wife or mother will focus on maintaining the family’s accommodations. She decorates and structures the living space to ensure no harm comes to the children. She also implements rules and regulations that tightly control the nest and all of those inside. Under the circumstances, if hubby comes home from work, reaches for a beer, sits in front of the TV and clams up, instead of doing what she asks, it isn’t long before they enter the relationship battle zone.
Why some men escape with beer and TV. Profit-making enterprises invariably harness and monitor an employee’s efforts and abilities by way of rules and the overarching threat that those who don’t go along will not be employed long. Unless a man works for the government or a university, he is usually overseen and pressured by an owner, manager or director. Once at home, he needs time to breathe and allow the pressures from work to seep into the cosmic ether. He needs escape.
What often happens, however, is that when he walks through the door, he is confronted by the expectations of the boss of the domestic empire. After succumbing to the demands of overseers at his job, he is pressured into taking on the duties and obligations imposed by his wife. To many men, this is simply more work. If a man is burdened on the job and at home, he will often escape through alcohol and other substance use.
Without freedom, men become hampered and suppress their genuine selves. Many cherish liberty and independence; once they leave work, they must refresh their souls with a drink of the tasty sovereignty juice. They savor it and let it quench their thirst, replenishing natural virtues. Not all men escape in the same way, of course. Some seek solace through fishing and hunting, reminding them of their place on our planet.
Academia’s Attacks on Men
The pressures men face don’t just come from home and work. Authors of women’s and gender studies textbooks, for example, spend a tremendous amount of time blaming males for all sorts of problems. In Chapter 12, “How Men Silence Women in Marital Relationships,”[xi] of Language and Gender,[xii] which examines the differences in communication between the sexes, Victoria Leto DeFrancisco details a social experiment that “proved” husbands dominate wives through everyday conversations. Her research involved placing recorders inside married couples’ homes and later analyzing what they said. Below is one such conversation, between “Clair” and “Bob”:
Clair: I went to Safeway food market today.
Clair: I ran into your mother.
Bob: Ran into who?
Clair: Your mother—she didn’t recognize me or know who I was.
Clair: She was at the meat counter and I looked right at her.
Bob: I’ll be right back, I need a cigarette.
Clair: (When Bob returns.) So I followed her up an aisle. She never looked back.
Bob: Well, my mom has tunnel vision.
Clair: And I talked to Duane today, for my dental appointment.
Bob: Let me go feed the dogs.
According to Dr. DeFrancisco, the wives she studied felt patronized and “put down,” and believed their husbands were “fake listening.” Her conclusion was that women try to talk but that men stubbornly dominate them with patronizing behavior and by ignoring what they say.
An alternative explanation for what happened between Clair and Bob. Family and social drama disturbs many men, but seems to turn on no small number of women. Regardless, in the conversation detailed above, it is just as likely that something else was going on. Perhaps Bob didn’t enjoy discussing the fragile relationship between his mother and his wife. He knows there is friction and that there is no remedy to this particular situation. Since a man’s brain is hardwired to solve problems, he sees no point in confronting his mother. Over time, Bob has become extremely sensitive to his wife’s emotional issues with his mother and is tired of arguing about it.
In reality, it is unfair for Clair to expect Bob to straighten out his mother’s problems or to put up with endless family relationship drama. Unfortunately, while the latter can easily disgust many men, they can’t simply tell their wives to “shut up!” If they do, they will likely end up spending a week sleeping on the couch. In the end, they decide to keep quiet about the all-to-common drama involving a wife and other members of the extended families. Such struggles might be interesting fodder for television, but they can also lead men to snap.
Like many other women’s studies authors, Dr. DeFrancisco has cast unfair aspersions on all males. These academics appear wholly ignorant of the biological differences between the sexes and the workings of the brain.
For the most part, wives, therapists and academics continue to have a serious misunderstanding about men, masculinity and the emotional male. Like the women at a coffee klatch who keep telling old wives tails about defective hubby failures, there are plenty of people who still don’t get how men communicate and operate. Little boys do cry and men are emotionally sensitive. When a man falls in love, the feeling is so overwhelming that he is often imbued with the urge to care for his lover forever. Men shouldn’t be faulted because they aren’t like women. Ignorant and damaging stereotypes should be disregarded, and men should be appreciated for who they really are.
Throughout history, men have willingly sacrificed their own lives for others, demonstrating deep loyalty, affection and respect for their fellow humans—male or female. Men have built our civilizations and have passionately reached for the stars. Some men set their aspirations on mastering unsurmountable obstacles, seeking cures, and innovations that benefit all humankind. Others choose an alternative course. Regardless, for those who are seeking freedom from the entanglements of destructive relationships, there is an option worth considering: Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW). Around the world, men are finding mentorship into a new lifestyle of single-man happiness that is financially and emotionally nourishing and amazing.
About the Author
Tim Patten has recently published MGTOW, Building Wealth and Power. He also wrote WHY I CHEAT – 11 campfire stories for men’s ears only. Both books are a celebration of masculinity and pay homage to the modern men’s liberation movement. Patten previously published a novel about establishing gender equality in professional sports, Roller Babes: 1950s Women of Roller Derby.