I post often about what gender inequality does to women but I am increasingly more aware of how this imbalance affects men, especially as I am really concerned about the devastating rise of male suicide.
I’m writing this in the middle of the night, after waking with insomnia, aware that I needed to work through some feelings that are bothering me.
I’m not that worried about not sleeping and am just using the cover of darkness to sort through some disorganised files in my heart and mind.
I have an implicit trust in my abilities to navigate my feelings. I am good at knowing what my feelings are and how to talk about my feelings with friends or a therapist or to my guitar.
I was lucky enough to be given this as part of my gender identity.
We all know women are more emotional and therefore able to express their feelings better than men. It’s a given. Men are just not as emotional right?
Therein lies a big fat lie and a more frighteningly, a dangerous one.
A lie that is not just hurting men, it’s killing them or to be more precise, it’s making them kill themselves.
My female ‘privilege’ of being given the emotion portfolio over, say, the treasury portfolio doesn’t seem so crash hot, after all I also get stuck with the ‘overly emotional’ aka Steve Price hysteria label.
I acknowledge the male financial burden isn’t that fun when you’re losing, and they fall like mad men in Manhattan when the dollar gods turn their backs on their worship but I’d still like a bigger bit of that pie, thanks the same.
But let me just explore what my feeling female advantages are in my culture (acknowledging fully that there are always exceptions.)
1. I am allowed to have and express emotions more.
2. I am allowed to nurture and build relationships based on my feelings more.
3. I am allowed to cry and I get held when I do.
Imagine getting a puppy and not allowing it to bark past a certain age. It would impact heavily on its socialisation and more importantly it’s happiness.
That’s effectively what we do to young men.
I remember once very clearly telling my own son not to cry when he was about 8. Thankfully, he stood up to me and said he was allowed to express his feelings. Well done son. :)
However, I was shocked at myself and I’m not sure how many other times I might have disregarded his feelings but I remember being very aware of my lack of abilities to understand his emotions because I wasn’t brought up to know how to deal with 'feelings' from a male.
I was brought up ‘knowing’ how to deal with actions from a male.
So I read a few books and got learned that male emotions are pretty much identical to female ones. Der!
We’ve all been given a bum steer, women are now the emotions ‘experts’ who are being murdered by angry men at an alarming rate and men are emotional zombies with bigger bank balances and yet a deep crippling sadness that makes theirs and others lives seem worthless.
So what do we do?
Well, this is actually something we can all start changing by simply being aware of this inequality and the impact of it.
Then we need to fucking talking about feelings!
YES, TALK ABOUT FEELINGS or even lack of feelings.
Talk about the numbness, the void, the red, the black..
However it comes, please just talk.
The RU OK campaign is a great way to get info more and also beyond blue.
Yet, in my sleeplessness, I had another thought.
My rambling midnight meanderings lead me thinking about something my mother told me when I was little. She said that all the women in our family had ‘powers’, that we had the ‘gift’.
She said we were all “Fae’ (an old word for fairy or intuitive)
The truth so happened that we did get these ‘powers of knowing’.
There have numerous been times when shit has gone down with my family or a loved one and I have ‘known’.
Yet, I bet anyone reading this has had something ‘spooky’ or inexplicable happen similar.
I could go on and on about how special I am... but the truth is, I, nor my family is.
It’s simply an extension of my ability to be emotionally connected, have awareness and the added genius of my mother planting a seed, saying the women in our family are 'magic fairy witches', so any strange anomaly would automatically be attributed to the gift.
That’s a pretty cool thing to get told as a kid and I did spend hours trying to use my mind to move objects and…. er… maybe I still do occasionally purely for ‘research purposes’.
So how does this tie in to gender inequality?
How many times have you ever heard the quote ‘A mothers intuition’ or ‘A woman’s intuition’?
How many times have you heard ‘A males intuition’?
Are men less magic? aka incapable of deeper connection?
I again don’t bloody think so and I think this is another terrible gender falsehood.
Interestingly, I have observed in my extensive pop culture ‘research’, indigenous men are waaaay more intuitive and their powers extend to talking to the land, animals and stars. I’m quoting any Disney or Hollywood film, from any era and any ancient pre-invaded white civilizations have also endowed their men with these intuitive ‘powers’.
How amazing are ‘native' men at this intuition caper (aka deeper observed connection at the intricate and interconnectedness of all life). Maybe that's why there is so much fucking dreadful new age bullshit around this and 'sacred' masculinity that also seems to be a lil' racist.. Mmmmmmm? Anyone?
Poor white guys are usually portrayed as pretty bad at the deeper feeling stuff except for Kevin Costner because he runs with wolves and builds fields for heroic dead base ballers. I badly digress.
So it’s no wonder many blokes are in so much pain, not only have they been told to ignore their feelings, when they dare look to the heavens for help no great whoosh happens where a king lion constellation says ‘You have forgotten who you are and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.’
Let me please atone for my Hollywood references (great and small) and quote a great man who navigated and curated the world’s great myths and his own great emotions. (including his death)
I include religion in the term 'myths' because I reckon religion is just organised ritual gone OCD.
"The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature". – Joseph Campbell
If our definition of being a man equates to money, power and success over connection to themselves and their place in the magic of this amazing universe, then no wonder they are hurting.
There are some great men of science, the arts and culture who navigate around the toxic world of enforced gender conditioning and have found their own magic and I'd like to thank them.
Eddie Izzard, Dr Seuss, Joseph Campbell, Oscar Wilde, Harry Hay, Robert Mapplethorpe, Carl Sagan, The crew of Briefs, etc…. so many more wonderful writers and educators.
So maybe we can start teaching our sons that they have an inner world of magic and connection as precious and important as women's.
And maybe we can remind the men around us that inside them are worlds of beauty and tender connection and can we all please make a bigger effort to nurture that.
Midnight ramblings over, it’s nearly dawn after all and right now I want to follow my bliss to sleep .