Many Americans celebrated the June 9, 2016 report concluding that Hillary Clinton would be the first female nominee for the most powerful office on Earth. Meanwhile, the National Organization for Women, having declared satisfaction with the level of equality in America, has focused attentions on a “love your body” campaign. These and other developments would seem to indicate that the long-running and frequently hyperbolic “debate” on gender and relations between the sexes has evolved into something more thoughtful and constructive.
Unfortunately, not everyone has gotten the message. Academic feminists, for instance, continue to press for adoption of Men’s and Masculinity Studies programs on college campuses. This curriculum maintains, among other things, that a social framework where boys are told, “Don’t cry, son,” as well as overexposure to hyper-masculinized representations of heroic stoicism, has caused males to suppress their emotions, leaving most of us expressively “underdeveloped.” As a result, we are often confronted by frustrated women who ask, “Can’t you just share your feelings?” Others take a more assertive tack–“Show some emotion!” they say. If we don’t cry, it means there is something wrong with us.
Are Men Dispassionate?
My first pet, Princess, was a beagle who taught me a lot about love and loyalty. When I was eight-years old, she went mad, as some dogs do, and bit my best friend, Tommy Mitchell. Consequently, the first love of my life had to be put down. At dusk on a rainy day, my dad led me into the Wisconsin woods, where he did the deed with a .22-caliber pistol. A shot rang out against the dampened tree limbs. Princess’s head slumped back and she collapsed. Suddenly, she lay very still. I looked away, stunned. I sniffled, and then cried deeply.
“Boys don’t cry. It’s a dog,” my father muttered.
I sat in the car while Dad buried Princess. I cried and hugged myself tightly, trying to will things back to the way they were only a day before. I went home and watched a movie, featuring rugged John Wayne, on TV.
I have never forgotten that evening when Princess left us. But there have also been other moments and experiences through the years, some good and some bad, that have remained with me, even as I enjoy my retirement from the work force. I have been passionate and emotional about many things throughout my life, but I’m sure the same could be said about others. Contrary to what we men are told, almost all of us have cried and experienced deep and powerful feelings.
Underneath Our Sleeves
And yet, many believe otherwise, largely because we do not wear our emotions on our sleeves. No small number of us prefer to cry in private or, perhaps out of embarrassment, we shed tears more quietly than women do. Societal expectations have likely played a role, but so, too, has our past. Researchers who have evaluated the differences from an evolutionary perspective have concluded that our ancient male ancestors needed to suppress sentiment when they were protecting the village, killing enemies, or hunting for food; over time it was natural for us to keep doing so. As designated protectors, we often mute expressiveness in an effort to better assess circumstances in case we need to leap into action.
Many females, in contrast, are sensitive and quick to show their feelings, imploring us to comfort them and assuage their anxieties in return. We are expected to attend to their emotional needs and grievances, many of which seem endless. Such a dynamic makes it difficult for female partners who might naturally assume the same holds true when things are reversed. But that is not the case: men and women are different and deal with emotions and circumstances in differing ways. Our reactions are typically not like theirs; in many cases, we do not seek their emotional support.
In fact, when we experience fear, it often stirs up empathy so deep that we feel compelled to run to the rescue and save lives. This heroic response seems to come naturally, an instinct at least some of us are born with. Most people, male or female, would probably jump out of their skin if confronted by someone in immediate and grave danger. But men often become extraordinary heroes at such moments. In the aftermath of a house fire or similar tragedy, it is not all that odd to hear a man say, “I saw women stand around crying in hysterics while valuable minutes were slipping away. Another guy and I ran in and did what we had to help those who were in trouble.”
Flawed, or Simply Different?
In family and more relaxed settings, it’s not difficult to see men and women communicating and emoting at different levels, vibrations and methods. In fact, it has become something of a cliché: men complain that their spouses talk too much, while women complain that their husbands only grunt. But this does not necessarily indicate a failing: more often than not, it stems from physiological differences. Scientists who have studied brain function have determined, for example, that nerve signals can follow alternate neuropathways in men and women. By analyzing brain scans, researchers have concluded that the two sexes process feelings by way of different behaviors and patterns, and at dissimilar times and circumstances.
Even then, associating the divergence with obvious physical differences may not tell the whole story. There are those who believe that transsexual and gender-fluid individuals can have much in common with individuals of the opposite sex, or the gender of those they closely identify with. Regardless, an assessment of the binary male brain points to a results-oriented focus, geared towards action and problem-solving. We seek to crack puzzles, ponder universal meanings and explore new horizons. When faced with danger, our minds move into overdrive in a quest for answers and actions to take.
The female brain, in contrast, seems to work in a more process-oriented way. Most are quick to connect, sharing emotions and explaining behavior, delving into various illuminations after networking with others. Girls and women favor social interaction and arrangements where people can come together, either in person or indirectly by telephone, text or email, to communicate and address whatever issues may be at hand. To solve problems, they will often seek to assemble task forces to share ideas, see how others feel, and reach a consensus that takes a great many perspectives into account.
Arguably, the differences between the two sexes can be summed up by an old joke: “When a couple are in a foreign city and get lost, the man looks at the map, while the woman askes someone for directions.”
More than Physiology
Still, while an understanding of gender-based factors is helpful in grasping the differences, physiology isn’t the only factor that influences the way women and men see, evaluate and connect with the world. Career choices, job requirements and other pressures can also influence how individual minds and emotional mechanisms work. Needless to say, understanding this fact can provide useful clues about how best to communicate and work with someone we may care about deeply.
Among those whose careers require them to process emotional imagery and interact with others on a regular basis are health care workers, teachers, social workers, therapists and counselors. In contrast, those who fall into the problem-solving camp, which can include both men and women who are task-oriented and focused on results and solutions, are manual laborers, electricians, technical workers, engineers and those in jobs that involve high physical risk.
Sometimes, Words Say it All
Whether or not an individual fits with the above, there are other ways of assessing where they might fall on the process-action-oriented scale. Simple as it sounds, this includes listening to what they say and how they describe the everyday realities of home, work and life, as illustrated in the table of examples below:
I saw your mother and she didn’t say “hi”?
How are you feeling?
Do you still love me?
Did you do that to intentionally hurt me?
I saw Carol and Dave today.
Why didn’t you call me back?
How was your day?
I love you more every day.
Did you make any progress at work today?
Are the deadlines close?
Did you solve anything today?
I’m trying to repair my credit–any ideas?
What are you trying to work out?
Is it more complicated than you expected?
After finishing the project, let’s party.
Did you hear we found water on Mars?
The fact that individuals may fall into one camp or another, whether driven by physiology or other factors, means we must not bow down to broad-brush stereotypes, promoted largely by feminist advocates of women’s, gender and masculinities studies curricula, that men, masculinity and gender are social constructs. Such programs are mere propaganda, designed to promote a political agenda and nothing more. Rather than accepting their unscientific assertions that men need to be changed, we should be working to improve how all of us–men and women–exchange ideas and communicate with one another.
For those of us who find themselves in relationships and settings were others don’t respect and understand our differences, and can’t stop labeling men as having stunted emotional maturity, the answer is simple: separate ourselves from these toxic individuals. Instead, choose an extraordinary escape hatch from women’s and society’s misunderstandings–the men of MGTOW. Once you reach out and communicate with our genuine masculine souls, you’ll find friends forever.
There is no doubt that men are resourceful and embody the profound passions that have helped to build the greatest civilization on Earth. In the exciting world that we see ahead, things can only get better.
About the Author
Tim Patten published his own search for identity in a hysterical and moving autobiography: My Razzle Dazzle under his pen name Todd Peterson. Tim also released in 2016: MGTOW, Building Wealth and Power and 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 the novel about establishing gender equality in professional sports, Roller Babes: 1950s Women of Roller Derby.