The Frustration of Expressing Masculine Emotions
A blog colleague recently posted an extremely well-expressed break up note. I don’t know if he actually sent it the note to his ex. Perhaps he only wrote for his blog. He posts anonymously, by the way. You can read the whole note here but I’ll be quoting the most relevant quotes in this post.
If your goal was to reconcile with me, repeating the usual pattern of ruining a perfect night by rejecting me wasn’t the smart thing to do. I don’t know what I’ve done with words or with actions that made you believe my response to tonight’s rejection would be anything but negative. Did you take my kindness for weakness or something?
I’ve read books on this stuff. Rejection piles up. Our fight started 8 days ago because, after that wonderful date, you said, “I’m not feeling it” at bedtime. You didn’t want to have sex then, and it pissed me off. The best way to reconcile was not to repeat the exact same thing again last night.
My first reaction was “that’s a lot of butthurt going on.” But on consideration of this bloggers age and life experience – quite similar to mine – I mentally retracted my first reaction and replaced it with “He makes a lot of sense”. As both the blogger and I went through the 80s and 90s, we experienced the full cultural typhoon of “men should be more in touch with their emotions.” We were expected to be sensitive, new age guys (SNAGs)
Machismo was ridiculed and the phrase “don’t be so macho” was heard often. Of course, the hypocritical irony of this era was when Ms Magazine published a photo of a nearly naked Burt Reynolds as a centerfold, a la Playboy. [Thanks to commenter Zorro, I have to change this to Cosmopolitan magazine. It was not Ms Magazine] Reynolds was the sex symbol of the day and he was certainly the opposite of the SNAG. Too many guys growing up in that period of social history transformed themselves into SNAGs.
This blogger is angry because he was rejected sexually from a woman with whom he had some heavy emotional investment. He expressed is anger in an excellent and eloquent way. He’s not whining, he’s expressing his frustration with that situation as a way of dealing with it in an emotionally healthy way. He’s not being insulting. He’s not being critical of all women. But there is definite anger is in his words. Good for him.
Our society has a real problem with masculine anger. When that anger is manifested as physical violence, it gets serious attention. The public, especially women, assume that if one man expresses his anger through violence, all men will do the same. So, ordinary guys feel the pressure to suppress their anger.
Sometimes a guy erupts in strong verbal anger that inevitably ends up on the Internet. Certain male spaces are a perfect place to express that anger. Reddit has several subreddits where a man can vent his spleen about women, sex, relationships, society, whatever. Here’s a classic example. Because the anger stands out so much, all the words from other guys around the rant mostly go unnoticed. There could be 10,000 thoughtful and reasonable comments or blog posts, but it’s the angry ones that get shared around the ‘Net with the typical man-shaming remarks. It’s extraordinarily predictable.