We tend to, because they don’t talk or cry as much as we do, forget that men are human beings with feelings. Men are often times socialized to be tough; which basically translates to, you shouldn’t show emotions; don’t cry, don’t talk about what hurts you, and never seem too sensitive and vulnerable.
It is as bad as some men not hugging their sons because they were not hugged by their fathers, whose fathers did not hug them; carrying on generations of ‘hug-less’ men who then are clueless as to how to show their women affection outside of the sex act.
This socialization comes from everywhere and almost everyone; both parents, aunts and uncles, teachers, peers, etc, etc. I have often heard “Stop being a sissy, you cry too much.”; “Boys/men don’t cry.”; “He talks about his feelings like he’s a woman,” and on and on. Even spouses often disregard their men’s feelings and scoff at him if he even dares to cry at a sad movie, or show any other kind of emotion other than love.
Their home and women should be the soft place/space for them to land, after having to live up to society’s expectation of them always being tough, no matter what.
Parents treat the emotions of their sons way differently than they treat the emotions of their daughters. The daughters get hugged and listened to, while the sons, more often than not, get told to “brush yourself off and keep it moving”. Even the mothers, those deemed to be the more nurturing parent, often times look at, treat, and expect tougher emotional responses and behaviours from their male children. This sets in motion, how they see themselves, and how they interact with their peers. It encourages the “man a bad man” culture, because “bad man don’t cry”. The upshot is that often, men do not show their true feelings and come across as being cold, especially to their female peers, and then eventually their spouses and male offspring.
However, all human beings need to be heard. Their feelings are also valid, even though they are the owners of a penis. When they hurt, they too need an outlet, a listening ear. When people are hurt and are not heard, they either implode or they explode. Some turn to substances like drugs and/or alcohol, some abuse food, some sex, some cut themselves, or even burn themselves with cigarettes.
Or, like many of the “shottas” among us, they pick up a gun, become bullies, beat their women, abuse their children, etc, etc.
I never excuse bad behaviour, but I understand that many behaviours are caused by nurture, or the lack thereof. As such, I strongly believe that we create some of the “monsters” that walk among us, as the lack of love, affection and a listening ear to our boys when they are young, push them to seek to create this sense of family in cliques and groups of other boys and men who are also hurting and feel like outcasts.
When I counsel teenagers especially, I shudder at the fact that our boys are not listened to, or spoken to; no one hears them, asks them about their day and how they feel. As such, it is hard to get them to open up, but when they do, I marvel at how happy they are to just have me listen. Some of the thoughts they have in their heads are dangerous, but are there mostly because they are entering this big, scary stage of their lives; between childhood and adulthood, with no one to hear them, or to care that they do have feelings, and they do hurt.
When I counsel men, often times, their main complaint is that it seems as if no one cares about their feelings and they are expected to “man up and shut up about it already” if they even attempt to discuss anything deeper than an erection. This puts severe emotional pressure on them, and, among other resultant behaviours, the rum bars are being packed more and more and earlier and earlier in the day, with many men who try to drown their hurt and pain in the bottom of a glass.
The lack of attention to, and empathy for the feelings of our men and boys are the reasons that men worldwide commit suicide more than women, as women have so much more support, and so many more outlets.
I beg you, talk to your boys and your men. I end where I began; Men have feelings too.