Daily Archives: November 2, 2011
|November 2, 2011||Filled under Androgyny vs. Equality|
Once I had a boyfriend who was really sensitive. It was so in Mode at the time I thought I’d landed a real catch. He liked shoes, was interested in cooking utensils, and spent more time heading south than Ernest Shackleton on a British grant. Times were good and I had found, quite possibly, The One. And he was so in tune with himself and his emotions that he went regularly to something he referred to as “coaching” which sounded kind of like therapy for people who don’t have problems. Once I called it counseling and was quickly prompted to correct myself. Enter red flags of insecurity.
What I loved about this guy was that he felt things the way I felt things. It was so great to have conversations of like-mindedness about the frustrations of pre-menstrual hormonal surges. It was great to talk to someone about fear of loss and worrying about not being attractive enough. I thought to myself “Finally! A man who is emotionally evolved!!”
And then he cried.
It wasn’t even a happy-movie-ending-cry (which I regularly tolerate). It was a sympathy cry. I was crying. He cried with me. Then he cried more. And I knew then I could not love this man and that when I told him so, he would cry more. And he did. On the floor of my hallway. Sobbed in a fetal position. For much longer than respectable.
Let’s just set a few gender specific activities straight right now:
- Women are allowed to sob, broken-hearted, on the floor. While men may do this, they should commit harikiri before ever admitting to it publicly.
- During emotional conversations, men may replace words with emotive grunts. This counts as communicating.
Somehow in our society we have misled much of the male population into believing that we want them to be more like women, and if they need to be men, they may do so within the four walls of their Man Cave, at sports events, or when we need a light bulb changed. (By the way, this is a fantastic article on the modern pasty white male reduced to a garage full of phallic symbolism and weak beer.) There are a lot of theories on how this shift has occurred.
My friend, Owen Marcus suggests that it has a lot to do with the men of our day being raised primarily by women. Fathers are off working in offices all day and commuting. The majority of educational professionals at elementary level are women. Marketing campaigns across the globe indicate that sensitive men are loved tenderly (in a bizarre mother-like manner) by women. And let’s not even start with the feminist movement that has replaced one kind of sexism with another.
Last week I was at the airport with my husband. Who may divorce me after this blog. Everything was dandy and we were checking in on those little electronic machines that greatly reduce the personnel costs of airlines and mostly confuse the traveling population with their technical voodoo. (No really, how does it read my passport? It’s just creepy.) The Man tried to check in. He was rejected by the machine. I watched him, from a safe distance, as he turned from Metrosexual Charmer in a suit with a pink dress shirt to a grunting, stomping, angry Neanderthal. He was mad, and that goddamn machine knew it too because he was dancing around it like some sort of primate getting ready to battle to the death for mating rights.
At first I was appalled. Good lord, man, calm yourself down and think rationally about it. I think I even lectured him on articulating frustration to the tune of “When I am angry about something that is out of my control, I just sigh and hope I don’t look too fat.” For the rest of the tour through the airport, I watched him carefully eye innocent bystanders in hopes that they’d pick a fight with him so he’d have a validated reason to pound something to smithereens.
This is masculine physiological emotional processing taking place. Back in the day, things that caused anger and fear required physical reactions: escaping, chasing, battling, and general pummeling, not to mention gratuitous sex rights in primate clans and the evolutionary “because I can” screw. In our fancy modern world of therapists and “coaches” we don’t have any real, human way to express our emotions in a manner that reflects our physiology (see: testosterone). And then we’ve got us pesky women always trying to be “understood” by our men.
I would argue that by disallowing or disproving of masculine emotional response, we’re turning our men into an entire gender of confused and repressed emotions. Instead of us getting closer to our male partners, it drives us further away. They retreat to their man caves, play with their genitalia, and watch porn where women succumb to the all-mighty power of The Cock willingly and without asking them to fold laundry first or cuddle afterward.
Over the years I’ve come to understand that the “emotionally evolved” man is not necessarily a man that embraces and exhibits feminine emotional qualities, but rather a man who is aware of himself, his emotions, others, and their emotions, in their own unique form. It’s a man who embraces a crying me, but is likely thinking about a Sloppy Joe because I burned dinner and the immediate need for food seems paramount to my failures as a housewife. And then he says “I love burned meat. And the woman who makes it.” Because he understands that my tears have manifested themselves from something beyond the petrified meal.
So I pledge to let my man be a man and to encourage his masculine means of emoting. For Christmas I am going to get him a club for bashing things. I am going to stop asking him if he “wants to talk about it” because I know that when he’s processed his emotions into a lexicon of verbs and nouns, he’ll probably share them with me. I will stop expecting him to be as excited as I am about things like imported Saffron and poetry. And I’ll let him know that if he comes out on top of the battle with the automatic check-in machine, I’ll be his boodle.
*** Next on Androgyny vs. Equality: Sex. It’s not a chore.