This piece is inspired by an article (not a full answer to it) published in the New York Times on April 4th, 2016. It’s written by Andrew Reiner and entitled “Teaching men to be emotionally honest”. You’ll find the original article here:
So, this article gives me mixed feelings. It’s seems to be written by a feminist-indoctrinated man who has started seeing cracks on the feminist wall, and makes a few interesting remarks, although he generally sticks to the narrative. I’ll give you a few thoughts here:
The article basically makes a case against the emotionally crippled men in our societies, describing how we are taught from an early age to swallow our feelings and how bad that is for everybody. It draws from Michael Kimmel and explains the toxicity of the “Bro Code” in which our young men are developing.
The author wants men to cry more, to express their sadness, their frustration, because he considers that to be a desirable personality trait for all people, including men. He notes how men are falling behind girls in education, but he blames it on this “male code” that compels every boy to be more brutish than the guy next to him, in order to feel validated by his peers. He also notes that there are no resources focused on men in campuses, but he vaguely blames that fact on “men and women alike”, who challenge and protest the need for those resources. He doesn’t name feminism, the main detractor of men’s issues in college.
To sum up, the article tells us that men need to change. “It’s for their own good and for the good of the society”, the author tells us. Let’s go and share some thoughts on it:
1: The author says that men need to be more emotional. If that is so, it must mean that women are already “emotional enough”. It logically follows that men need to be more like women. This only proves that he considers women to be the “default” in terms of emotions, and that men need to look more like them. “To be emotionally honest”, as Hannah Wallen put it a while ago, actually means “to be more feminine”. The author feels that emotionality, open and uncontrolled emotionality by means of crying (in particular) is a good and desirable trait for everybody. If he had read a bit of Tom Golden, for example, or even if he had just paid close attention to the men around him, he would know that men are deeply emotional, but they express it in their own way. Men tend to express feelings indirectly and through action. They don’t usually meet just to talk about their feelings and cry on each other’s shoulders. The usually meet to play football, go fishing, or just play some video games, and while they are doing that, they will often start talking. At the same time, they are bonding; through cooperation and friendly agonistic competition. That’s how men usually relate to each other. You won’t hear our deepest thoughts if you force us to look into your eyes and ask us directly. The author seems to believe that men are ashamed to feel emotions; that they are forbidden to express them, that they constantly wear a mask. He can’t grasp that men DO feel and DO express their feelings, they just do it DIFFERENTLY. And that’s OK. Considering that anyone who does not react to situations like you do is emotionally crippled is just a self-centered way of thinking.
2: The author puts no value whatsoever in stoicism, the concept of controlling and mastering your own emotions, in letting you channel your feelings in a certain way, in order not to be driven by them. Overcoming pain and fear means nothing for him; he wants people to cry and complain. But he doesn’t tell us that crying and complaining have never brought anything to men, anything but scorn. And it’s not a “bro code” thing: women enforce this as strongly as men. The author doesn’t understand that men are powerfully attracted to women, to such an extent that they will do whatever they want them to do, or to look like. If all women suddenly felt honestly attracted to emotional men, tomorrow we would see flocks of red-eyed, sobbing men. But women are not naturally attracted to complaining, crying men. So men compete between each other in order to perform the best they can, according to women’s rules. Sexual selection works in most species (including ours) through male competition and female choice. That’s nature. Pretending that it’s “a male thing” is just cowardly.
3: The author also mentions male underperformance in education, but he blames it on “society’s norms about masculinity”. As we see, no mention of affirmative action in favor of girls, no mention of the changes in the education system to make it more suited for female students. It’s just a male thing, and we need to take care of it. We need no help, we just need to man up and cry a bit more (as crazy as it may sound). Although the surface of the article seems to be in favor of “men as victims”, the author is putting the responsibility solely on men’s shoulders. So it’s actually “men as victims of a few things they created themselves”. Not cool. He doesn’t take into account the obvious influence of mainstream feminist thinking in education. If we agree that men are oppressive, evil and worthless beings, then why should we allocate any resources for their specific education? Why would we care about role models for them, if they are inherently broken, a lost cause? In such a desolate environment of carelessness and contempt, it’s just natural that boys and young men resort to more primitive/basic/tribal versions of brotherhood-bonding. That is a phenomenon that is going to happen no matter what we do, it’s the way we are wired. Whose fault is it that young men turn to crime, gang activity, binge drinking, video games pick-up artistry and the hookup culture (activities listed in the article) in order to find validation from other men? Is it their own fault, because masculinity is toxic? Or could it be that we have stripped them out of every other system of validation?
4: So men need to change and be emotional, but they somehow still have to take care of the dirtiest and most dangerous tasks in society. They need to change and be emotional, but they somehow still need to be dominant in order for women to feel attracted to them. They need to change and stop their sassy and flirtatious attitude towards women, but they are still expected to initiate contact with them. That is virtually a law in male-female interaction: women give clues, but it’s up to men to risk losing face.
5: Why should we teach men to be emotionally honest, if we disregard and mock their issues anyway? As one commenter of the article wrote: “Men decide not to show their feelings as soon as they see how they are treated by everybody”. What good is it to men to cry in public, if they will still have no domestic violence shelters, no male-oriented grants (thank God for Milo and Margaret!), if they will still be fucked over in family courts? That is what pisses me off the most in this article: it complains and demands and shows disgust for inappropriate male behavior, but it does it from a safe place, and it feels no need whatsoever to look at the bigger male picture. It complains about the smoke stains on the walls and wants them cleaned off, but doesn’t ask who lit the fire in the first place.
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