We live in a culture that encourages lies and shame.
Men are rarely supported in speaking their truth.
We are supported in giving up what makes us vulnerable, real and ultimately human.
Male gender assignments start early thereby limiting and infringing on our ability to become better men and human beings.
Primarily, we learn to lie often and always about our feelings.
Many of us are not taught that having and worse yet sharing our feelings is a big fat no no and should be avoided no matter the consequence. Men not being able to cry no matter the consequences is not just a stereotype or punchline to a bad joke.
I know several men who have witnessed the burial of parents and beloved siblings who refused to give in to the grief that would be a natural and healthy emotional expression.
I know several men who have such an inordinate amount of emotional pain inside of them that I am awestruck by their ability to function on any level.
Men who are not allowed access to a full emotional expression do not make for great companions nor are they able to be great resources for themselves in terms of liberatory and radical self love.
If a person is not allowed to feel they will not allow themselves to fully love another nor allow another to fully love them.
Part of sharing feelings also involves creating tools that will allow us to express the “good”ones as well.
The ability to experience powerful and loving feelings is something we often struggle to incorporate.
In bell hooks’ wonderful, We Real Cool, the concept of coolness is addressed and deconstructed as necessary and problematic.
Men,particularly men of color, get introduced to the culture of cool via the men in our lives whose only emotional expression is one of anger and cool.
Coolness was the chosen mode of being and the indicator of all future success.
I was often reminded of my inability to be “cool” and not exhibit an emotional response regardless of the circumstances.
Whether I did a jaunty dance step because I made the honor roll or physically showed my disapproval of an injustice or the cancellation of my favorite show, the message given to me was clear.
You are not cool.
Uncool men will not make it in this society.
At 45, I have style but still lack cool.
I am ok with this.
We often inflate our talents, abilities and personal accomplishments and downplay our lack or inability to “make something or crate a certain result”. I have had several failures in my life.
As an American Male, I am coerced into keeping my failures to myself. Male culture does not allow or encourage reflection and honest self and emotional assessment.
We are “supposed” to know what to do and have all the answers all the time.
Dealing with and accepting disappointments is another trap that confuses and seduces us.
bell hooks states that men can be seduced by power because it offers long term and ongoing rewards.
This is another lie that men get pitched that it is easy and simple to partake of the power structure (patriarchy).
Patriarchy’s cost is never examined:men lose so much.
Men are not taught that emotional needs are important so when an opportunity (participation in patriarchy) is presented that requires that they give up more of their souls (lying), it doesn’t feel odd.
Men who are disappointed sexually are never shown or resist ways that would increase their enjoyment of sex and lead to greater overall emotional satisfaction.
When young boys and then men are told to “man up “, it leaves them angry and confused with no outlet to address their pain.
Male culture is steeped in grief.
Many men can only address grief when they are drunk or high.
Men need tools that allow us to sit in and work through our pain.
It is time to stop lying and pretending that things don’t hurt.