What kind of a man are you looking for? The ladies who are old enough to remember the staple answer to that question use to be ’the strong silent type.’ For some reason that was the ideal image of the man for many women and those characteristics were stereotypically portrayed in the movies with leading men like Arnold, Stallone and Van Dame. Those ideals did not leave room for sweet, caring, and sensitive types. Actually, those characteristics were associated with the weak unattractive men. Fast forward to the last 10 years or so and all the girly magazines are screaming for the man who is in-touch with his feminine side. Talk about a cultural shift!
The most interesting way that the acceptace of this shift in desireable characteristics are portrayed is seen on tv and movies of men crying, becoming Romeoesque, and even adapting the ultimate form of female identity by dressing in drag. Mrs Doubtfire, Tu Wong Fu: Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar, and the Rock’s sexy legs in pink tights for the movie Tooth Fairy are some of the ways men are identifying their softer side. Ironically, in the movie Tooth Fairy, it took this detour from the character’s brutish masculinity (what is more male than playing hockey and knocking people’s teeth out while getting into random fights) to truly became a good boyfriend, potential husband, and surrogate father to the characters in the movie. Hell it even made his character a better man. There may be a large number of women who definitely approve this shift in the male persona.
Maybe it was the women who started to find a voice and yell at the top of their lungs that they wanted men who were more emotionally involved. They wanted men who tried to understand their feelings as well as sharing their own feelings too. How shocking to demand such a thing from the uber masculine males. As exciting as the bad boys are portrayed, women are choosing to settle with the complete opposite of those characteristics. Many women remember those days when ‘real men don’t share their feelings.’ They just avoided it all, turned to alcohol and smoking in order to deal with their problems. Apparently, that did not work too well except to produce alcoholics and absentee husbands and fathers. In recent years, a number of men have caught on to the trend of the dreaded open communication. However, it seems that men are okay with communication until they are hurting very deeply and instead of sharing, they revert back to the strong silent broody type.
In the OWN television program Unfaithful: True Stories of Betrayal, it is evident that being the strong silent type usually leads to something unpleasant and in these cases sexual infidelity. The funny thing is the results of avoidance only compound and supercede the original problem. For example, it could be something as simple as a man is grieving, he then starts to feeling vulnerable, and he naturally questions his identity as a man (everything seems to be tied to their manhood), he withdraws from his wife and family, refuses to talk to his wife even when asked if there is a problem. He repeatedly goes out to some social arena in order to get away from the problems at home, have some alcohol and regains his identity when some hussy, who notices the ring, pays him a bit of attention, and suddenly bam he finds his manhood in another female’s womanhood. So the initial feelings of grief has led to infidelity, which leads to lying, wife finding out (assuming he did not impregnate lover or contracted a STI that was passed on to his wife etc), anger, betrayal, loss of trust, marriage in trouble, separation, tears, regret, and so on and so on. Umm… that’s quite a bit of crap to deal with for simply avoiding.
Women are always blamed for being moody and sensitive but men too are equally cry babies and sensitive. The same way that women have a range of emotions; men have those same emotions as well. The difference is they express themselves in various manners that are not fully recognized by women. Women were taught to ignore and trivialize men’s capacity to feel and be ‘sensitive.’ Women are use to a specific mode of self-expression and are not aware that men do not have to become tearful and start every sentence with ‘I feel.’ Men need the same love, support, understanding and a listening ear just like most women. Women need to shut their traps every now and then and let him say his piece in his own way. Women need to learn to ask questions instead of accusing or demoralizing when they notice that their mates are out of sorts. Women need to learn to show their appreciation every now and then instead of always expecting that it is his job to buy the gifts, create the surprise, give compliments, and do all the romancing. The idea of “do to others as you would have them do to you” is a great philosophy for women on how to treat the men in their lives.
Relationships fall apart out of selfishness and both parties need to share the blame. Men do have feelings and women are taught to take them for granted or completely ignore them. Women are taught to demand affection, demand love, demand passion but never taught to extend that to the men in their lives. People tend to underestimate the value of good communication. A relationship with open and honest communication is a relationship that will weather the test of time and emerge stronger. Ironically, in that OWN series, the marriages that survived many years after the indiscretions were the ones that took advantage of counseling and engaged in honest self-reflection and honest communication with their partners and themselves. It is always refreshing to hear the men, in their own words, admit to their role and what they truly needed from the women in their lives. It has becomes very predictible that the women’s responses to the men are “I did not know.” Those responses are from assumptions that men bounce back quicker and resolve difficult emotions almost immediately so they do not need any extra love or attention. They are perfectly fine and dandy. Think again ladies! They are in great inner turmoil.
Women are not from Venus and men are not from Mars. Such foolishness contributes to the great emotional divide between the sexes. The opposite sex are similar in so many ways it can be quite hilarious. Men and women were taught socially (not genetically engineered) to communicate differently. The more society advocates that men and women are worlds apart the more confused and scared they are about trying to understand each other. These lessons are in constant contradiction with each other so miscommunication and the break down of relationships are inevitable. The ironically funny and sad part is it is so much easier for total strangers to sleep together than for two people in a committed relationship to share personal thoughts and feelings with each other. How horrible is that?