Some of my closest friends are men and I am grateful they have, for the most part, felt comfortable enough with me to talk about their feelings. Yet this is not the norm for most men. In general, men do not, cannot or find it difficult to express their softer, more sensitive side. This behavior is discouraged early on when boys are told, boys don’t cry and this attitude is perpetuated through the sentiment, real men don’t cry. So long as this kind of thinking persists, generally speaking, there is a whole side of being human that is not considered to be appropriate for men to show, even if they want to.
It occurred to me that this reflects a kind of emotional inequality between the sexes.
By this I mean, there are a variety of possible emotional responses available to human beings, yet it is more acceptable for women to express a wide range of emotions and this is not the case for men. Specifically, there are certain reactions, usually labeled as feminine or girlie that are considered off-limits to men. As a result, men generally believe they have fewer options when it comes to emotional expression and even suppress their feelings to operate within the boundaries of masculinity. Within the context of The Freedom Zone, whenever we feel limitations (self-imposed or otherwise) or don’t think we have options when it comes to how we respond to situations, we have a loss of Freedom. This suggests that men have a loss of Freedom when it comes to being fully self-expressed.
So, what might it be like if men felt free to express their feelings?
While this won’t solve all the world’s problems, this shift in thinking could transform the real men don’t mentality that so often dictates how men feel they should behave. Maybe this could be the beginning of a paradigm shift where emotional equality is the norm. In such a world, not only are men willing to express their fears and concerns and seek the support they need when life’s circumstances become overwhelming, it is acceptable for them to do so. Now, isn’t that a conversation worth exploring?