Why is It So Hard for Men to be Truthful with Women?
Gender Bias in Western Society
By RJ Magill
After reading this title, as you begin this read this article you are probably asking yourself, “what kind of psycho/sociological babble is this going to be?” Trust me, I’m no social psychologist. I am a middle-aged, happily-married man, with two wonderfully grown children, living in an idyllic Rocky Mountain town. My job as a greeting card writer is reasonably satisfying and I don’t have any serious addictions or unusual bad, bad habits (in my opinion). I don’t kick my dog and I say hello to my neighbors 90% of the time. I’m not particularly bitter about anything in particular. (But you are probably thinking: why would he say that if he wasn’t bitter?) I’m an average Joe, some would say…but I have learned a few things worth sharing (what an egotistical ass you might say) in my years of domestic servitude. So here you go…
A man has to be careful about being “too truthful” about emotions in a male/female relationship or marriage. Complete, uncensored honesty in relationships is a “fast lane to failure” in my experience. Let’s face it folks, emotional truth and sensitivity in men is associated with weakness by most people in Western society. Perceived weakness in men is typically not well-tolerated by the female of the species in a heterosexual relationship, nor is it tolerated very well by our archaic, currently male-dominated institutions.
An outwardly emotionally-sensitive man hangs on the lowest ring of the monkey bars of our society. So before the wiser, less-sensitive monkeys defecate on you from the higher reaches of the monkey bars, it is deemed necessary to quickly cover up those sensitive feelings with more “manly” words and actions and get up there! Men learn this expected behavior at a very young age. All men are preordained and expected to scale the heights of the proverbial bars because society demands/says: “man up” boys and climb…
And by the way, do you think that your significant other really wants to hear about your emotional wellbeing, your weaknesses, your fears; your so-called “soft spots”; you know those: “human things”? The next time you make the common mistake of spilling your guts to your partner, listen carefully to their responses. If they are completely honest in their answers (rare indeed for both genders), I’m afraid it won’t be pretty.
So if you don’t receive a heartfelt hug, or better yet a sympathetic “roll in the hay”, from your significant other as you spill those proverbial guts, don’t worry its normal. Any other reaction would mean that they too would have to reciprocate and be honest and forthright with their feelings. A really difficult situation it is…a real Catch 22! (For those of you too young to understand this reference, I highly recommend that you read Kurt Vonnegut’s book. It is a very prophetic tale about the human condition, in my opinion.)
Back in the good ole days, when men and women were at the subsistence level, there was no time for such self- indulgent drivel. When your next meal is dependent on your ability to kill an animal much larger and faster than yourself, then and only then, are you in touch with what is truly important. The primal truths become self evident when life is more basic. There was simply no time or need for a man to express sensitivity in those days. But we don’t live in that world anymore; haven’t for some time. Our world is significantly more cerebral (or is it really?) than a caveman’s and requires “brains over brawn” for lack of a better cliché.
It is often suggested that allowing men the opportunity to express their true emotions is “turning men into women”, whereby emasculating them and making them “soft” and unable to compete in the world.
So all you men out there, why confuse the issue, why swim against the stream; life is too short and all those clichés. What does a man have to gain by being honest about feelings anyway? We are just particles of carbon and water (with the SRY gene on the tip of the Y chromosome) stoically-floating down that stream of confused gender roles to an ocean of unfulfilled being (excuse the psycho-babble).
To change this sadly biased and deeply engrained behavior in mainstream society would be nothing short of social and cultural revolution, and who’s got time for a revolution? We are all too busy with the mundane aspects of daily living in our frantic world to consider the value of a man’s feelings for God’s sake… Most people probably think that expressing our true feelings just gets in the way of more important endeavors like emailing, texting, dieting, nodding off, chastising, and gratuitous, mindless agreeing, so whose got the time for change?
So what is the point of this rant anyway you say? Well, you should know by now that I have a much-damaged view of mankind, and that changing the way people perceive one another seems impossible, or more importantly, inconvenient and time-consuming for society at large.
You would think that we would have transcended this pervasive gender injustice years ago with all the common humanity that people share: our institutions, language, cultural conventions, similar interests, the mutual care of children, etc. but we find ourselves condemned to a “life sentence of role playing”. We all do it, right? At times it seems to be an inescapable truth; a “life sentence of silence” for all of us.
Well here it is: the finale to this literary wandering: “Masculinity” does not wholly define any man, just as femininity does not wholly define a woman, but do we have the courage to change our life-sucking stereotypical behaviors?
You may not believe me after the things I’ve been espousing, but I do believe that it is possible, this revolution. If we can have the resolve and courage to change the slow death of our planet (global warming) then we should have what it takes to change the way we really see one another and “break on through to the other side” of gender stereotypes in our society. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow-journey will be that we will ultimately and essentially becoming more human.
It will be a slow healing…like the planet’s, but with a little sensitivity thrown into our emotional dealings” with one another, there is hope for honest discourse between men and women.
In the mean time: keep it to yourself man, and take out the trash honey… It’s those damned monkey bars again!