Working on being a man pt.5

Oh you didn’t think I was dead or something did you?

This is one of many parts in the ongoing series of working on being a man.

Okay if you’ve been reading my “Working on Being a Man” series you know I’ve been talking about the various items that need to be addressed in regards to being a man in this crazy world we have. If you haven’t then take a moment to at the link above to the previous entries. Today time I want to talk about pain.

As most people know we as men are expected to not show or acknowledge pain under any circumstances. To do so is to be considered a sign of weakness. Well the thing is when you really get down to it what we end up with are not men who do not feel pain or are somehow immune to it. We end up with men who simply suffer in silence. (And this is not just limited to the mind and soul. I’m talking about the body as well.)

When having it drilled into your head that you are weak if you show pain and that weakness is the antithesis of your very existence (because in some people’s eyes if you have a male body and aren’t a “real man” then you are nothing) you are very likely to conclude that in order to validate your manhood you have to put your pain aside. Not actually cope, examine it, or otherwise deal with it. Just put it to the side thinking that if you simply don’t talk about it or bring it up it will go away and vola, “I am man hear me roar!”. The obvious problem with this is that when subscribing to this script of manhood we never truly learn how to deal with our pain. And that can be very dangerous.

When it comes to men committing acts of violence (against themselves in terms of suicide/attempted suicide or against other in terms of assault/dv/rape/etc…) I wonder how many of them were overwhelmed by burdens that they were told they had to bear but for some reason or another could not. (And by all that is holy please don’t waste my time by trying to tell me I’m trying to justify their actions because I’m not.) I wonder how many of those men tried to live by the script and at some point realized they were not measuring up to what a “real man” is supposed to be and decided to lash out over their “failure”. I think working this out is an important step in trying to help men. To help realize that a man is not made or broken based on some set of rules put in place by the Kyriarchy and reinforced by society. We can’t be expected to free ourselves from the bonds of the male gender role while at the same time being told we just need to “get over” our pains.

What I think the hard part of this is going to be is how to get men to realize that we don’t have to suffer in silence and getting the rest of society to basically shut the hell up and let us talk. Now I know to some of you that last part may sound weird. It probably sounds weird because in your mind men don’t need help speaking up because of male privilege (and if you think male privilege mitigates away our harms and pain then to the devil with you). Well let me ask you something. If men are so privileged then why do people proceed to flip the fuck out when we say something that is real but not politically correct? If I talk about how attractive Julianna Margulies and Vivica Fox are and one bats an eye but if I start to go into how I was picked on by girls in school and people think something is wrong with me.

If men are going learn how to actually deal with pain in a healthy manner we have to assure ourselves its okay to acknowledge our pain. Acknowledging and dealing with that pain will make us all better men.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have a major decision to meditate over.

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26 Responses to Working on being a man pt.5

  1. Clarence says:

    Good luck with your decision 🙂

    Nice post.

  2. getting the rest of society to basically shut the hell up and let us talk.

    (((blinks in amazement)))

    Okay, results of random experiment. I just flipped the channels on my TV, about 30-40 channels. (I stopped at OXYGEN, Oprah’s network.) I saw: Men talking, talking, talking. Andy Cohen, Larry King, Dr Phil, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, hip-hop stars I don’t know the names of, athletes I don’t know the names of, country and western stars I don’t know the names of, various politicians, Barack Obama, some guy on the BBC, Charlie Rose, Rahm Emmanuel, Anderson Cooper, et. al.

    I saw: Women acting, singing, posing, selling cleaning fluids and nylons, bitching to Dr Phil, but men are the ones doing the talking about the important stuff that runs the world and makes the bucks.

    The only women I found voicing actual independent opinions were 1) Joy Behar and 2) The Real Housewives of D.C. (In another hour, Rachel Maddow will get re-broadcast, but this is a RANDOM experiment!)

    So, when you make a statement like the one above? Most women just shake their heads and move on. My first reaction: Danny, are you kidding?!?

    How do account for the difference in what you have said vs the results of my random media experiment? I could repeat it at virtually any hour of the day, and still get the same basic results.

    So I am unsure of what you are talking about.

    • Danny says:

      Daisy:
      So, when you make a statement like the one above? Most women just shake their heads and move on. My first reaction: Danny, are you kidding?!?
      And the reason they shake their heads is because they are doing one of the very things they don’t want men to do to them. Take those few and and prop them up as the representation of all of us.

      By your experiment about how there aren’t that many women with independent opinions it looks like you are pointing out how there aren’t that many women speaking something you can get along with. In short they don’t represent you, their words aren’t inline with your thinking, in other words you aren’t feeling them right?

      So if its fine for women to speak up because they don’t think anyone is in line with their thinking then why is it such a damn crime for men to do the same? For some reason its insightful commentary for a woman to point out that she is speaking up for herself but when a man does its a crime against nature or something.

      I saw: Men talking, talking, talking. Andy Cohen, Larry King, Dr Phil, Chris Matthews, Sean Hannity, hip-hop stars I don’t know the names of, athletes I don’t know the names of, country and western stars I don’t know the names of, various politicians, Barack Obama, some guy on the BBC, Charlie Rose, Rahm Emmanuel, Anderson Cooper, et. al.
      Has the thought occured to you that maybe, just maybe, that sharing gender is not enough for me to resonate with those guys? I mean you share gender with those women who were, “acting, singing, posing, selling cleaning fluids and nylons, bitching to Dr Phil”. Does that mean you resonate with them? I doubt it and I have no problem with you saying they don’t. But oh no when a man thinks outside his box something is wrong with him.

      So in other words women need to speak up but men need to shut up because they are already properly represented right? Goodness feminism is supposedly about men breaking out of their boxes too but when we do we get shooed back into them because we are being represented so well…

    • April says:

      getting the rest of society to basically shut the hell up and let us talk.

      (((blinks in amazement)))

      Daisy, when I read that, I heard, “…shut the hell up and let us emote.” I don’t mean to speak for Danny, but I don’t believe that he was trying to assert that men are not given the right to speak or “given the floor,” so to speak, but rather that on the topic of pain and emotions, especially their own, that’s a space generally reserved for women and girls that men aren’t typically allowed, socially, to go.

    • Danny says:

      Got it in one April.

      Daisy seems to be operating on the presumption that since there are men talking and I am a man they must be representing me and that those men are actually free to talk about whatever they want. We aren’t.

    • April says:

      I didn’t read Daisy’s response as hostile or overly-presumptuous. In the “gender-thinkers” blogosphere, where our blog and Daisy’s tend to be categorized, bloggers and commenters tend to focus more on the negative ways in which women are affected by kyriarchy, not men, as you’re well aware. You were a little non-specific when you mentioned men not being given a chance to speak, so I can see where the confusion came from.

      I just wanted to try to clear it up before the misunderstandings led to potentially avoidable blocks in dialogue.

    • Danny says:

      While I can appreciate your desire to eliminate hostility she could have simply asked if she was confused instead of reacting that way. Pulling out a list of guys to basically say, “Shut up! You’re privileged!”

      I’m getting really aggravated with people trying to shut me out by pointing to men who simply go with the flow while those same people as “proof” there is nothing wrong.

    • April says:

      While I can appreciate your desire to eliminate hostility she could have simply asked if she was confused instead of reacting that way.

      I don’t think Daisy realized (and not to try and speak for her, of course) that she didn’t understand what you meant. The combination of the intent of your assertion not having been made explicitly clear in your comment, and her assumption that, when saying that society needs to let you talk, that you meant that men don’t have a dominating voice in public discourse, caused unnecessary conflict.

    • Danny says:

      Okay April I’ve been marinating on this for the last day or so and I’m still trying having a hard time not reading Daisy’s response as hostile. (The bold doesn’t help.) Looks like I may have to revisit this one…

  3. Clarence says:

    Daisy:

    Were all those men following “the script”?
    Were they discussing the pain or weaknesses that average men experience day to day?
    Or are you just looking at members of the elite chattering classes who are careful to stick to “the script” of manliness and conflating them with all men?
    You do seem to conflate average men with fictional *tv personalities!* or elite men a lot.

  4. Clarence: Were they discussing the pain or weaknesses that average men experience day to day?

    The price of running the world is to hide any weaknesses. That’s the gig, that’s the deal. That is the exchange men make for their status.

    If men don’t want to be in charge, they can step down at any time. (But if you are NOT the one in charge, you do not have the choice to do that.)

    To be in charge, you have to be unemotional, unflappable, stoic, “professional”— (fill in any other euphemism for take-charge masculinity). Again, that is the price. If men voluntarily stop paying this price, they will no longer be in charge… ball is in your court. Go ahead, break into tears on your job and few times and see what happens. (I do it at least once every couple of months, it’s refreshing.) If you choose not to show emotion, it is because your reputation and status are more important than what you are claiming you believe in here. As I said, ball is in your court.

    The ‘average’ man has more status, money, influence than the ‘average’ woman–which is how feminism began. And being in charge is central to that, thus the behavior that is considered “take charge” behavior, is also central.

    BTW, what is an “average man”? Most of the men I named were average at one time, and may some day be “average” again. What is “average”? I think Joy Behar is pretty “average”… and her topics and show are average as a result.

    Clarence: Or are you just looking at members of the elite chattering classes who are careful to stick to “the script” of manliness and conflating them with all men?

    Anderson Cooper? Dr Phil? Charlie Rose? (someone strike up the first verse of “FEEEELINGS, nothing more than FEEEEELINGS”….) they made their whole reputations on being sensitive guys and dealing w/sensitive issues. You know that, right?

    I find it interesting that you refer to some master “script” –yet you think there is no such script regarding men’s treatment of women. It’s all on an “individual basis” right?

    • Danny says:

      Daisy:
      The ‘average’ man has more status, money, influence than the ‘average’ woman–which is how feminism began.
      Problem is (and I’ll bet that’s why you put it in quotes) is that somewhere along the line in feminism that “average” because “any”. Basically some feminists (by intent or mistake I don’t know) have come to a point where they try to use the systematic to erase the individual. That’s why all of a sudden in their eyes sexism went from the “why” (and possibly “how”) of an event being the determining factor to the strictly the “who” (translation sexism has been specifically redefined so that it can only be male against female).

      I find it interesting that you refer to some master “script” –yet you think there is no such script regarding men’s treatment of women. It’s all on an “individual basis” right?
      The master script would be a composition of all the scripts on how people are “supposed to act”. There most certainly is one for how men treat women, and I really don’t recall saying there wasn’t but if I did I mispoke. Thing is I know its not all pretty but I’ll tell you this the ugliness is not as one-sided as a lot of people think.

      Now if you really want to talk about “individual basis” let’s talk about how some feminists take nearly act of male against female violence and hold it up as proof that the system hates women but then write off acts of female against male violence as not being a deal (compared the “OMG!!!!HehitherOHNOEZZZZZZ!!!! reaction of male against female violence), think some lip service (Patriarchy Hurts Men Too) fully addresses it, self defense, or simply not indicative of anything (despite the way the DV industry, at least in the States, pretty much ignores female against male violence).

    • Danny says:

      Again, that is the price. If men voluntarily stop paying this price, they will no longer be in charge… ball is in your court.
      Wow did you even read the entire post or did you actually shake your head, post some comments, and move on?

      If men are going learn how to actually deal with pain in a healthy manner we have to assure ourselves its okay to acknowledge our pain. Acknowledging and dealing with that pain will make us all better men.
      That’s the point. To get men to handle their pain in a healthy manner. Part of which is to stop thinking that we need to pay that price (in your example the price being the shutting off of emotions to succeed) in order to validate our manhood. So yes the ball is in our court. I’m trying to formulate a strategy and for some reason you’re acting like someone from the other team that actively does not want me (or men in general) to work through this.

      If you want to work with me cool let’s do this. If you are neutral that’s cool too because as a woman you have your own game going on and I wish you the best. But if you want to work against me then to the devil with you. Oh and one more thing. For anyone that thinks I’m going to stop what I’m doing because “women have it worse” (and thus paying that price you speak of) they can join the ones that want to work against me in their trip to the devil.

  5. Clarence says:

    Daisy:

    There’s also a “script” for how women treat men. And it’s not exactly the best one.

    But more to your points, such as they are:
    A. You can’t use the “average” male salary in one breath, and then conflate Anderson Coopers salary with the “average” salary.
    B. I don’t know how I can “step down” from shows I am not on, or do not run, produce, or mostly even watch. Nor can I compel some other man to step down for me.
    C. I haven’t needed to cry on a job in a long time. If I feel the need to do so, I will, so I’m not sure what you are trying to say here. I’m not going to cry JUST to cry esp about non-work related things. Do you make a habit of crying for no reason? I would hope not!
    D. Dr. Phil, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper: Yes, they made their reputation on compassion. Compassion mostly for women, as women comprise the majority of their audience. Dance, monkey’s , dance!

    So I’ll tell you what dear Daisy: When you can give me some real power , I’ll dismantle more of the “patriarchy” for you, providing you point me in the direction where this apparently mostly mythical beast is located. Until then, your problems aren’t my problems, esp. as you show no inclination to think I can have any problems at all that I didn’t cause myself. Thanks, but as a 39 year old man I haven’t had a hand in nearly anything.

  6. ballgame says:

    Hey, Danny, I just wanted to applaud your courage for taking this topic on. Our culture has a deep aversion to emotional vulnerability and dependency in males, and it means on some level males are denied their full humanity. It’s something we’re trained not to even look at, much less try to understand or question.

    • Danny says:

      Thanks for the support BG. Unlocking men’s full humanity is going to be a hard course. There will be hardships along the way but I think it will be well worth it once start to see real progress.

    • Wow, this whole thread has been very interesting. Great job Danny.

      I grew up both emotionally and physically bullied on a regular basis. The message from the administration and most teachers? Don’t cry. Don’t fight back. Don’t do anything that betrays an emotion. I was actually told by a principal that standing up for yourself creates abuse. Yeah, you get abused and then stand up – magically creating the abuse that caused you a need to fight back in the first place. (sigh)

      Of course, the backlash was far worse when I initially started to talk about being raped at the hands of a woman. The usual rape denial and victim-blaming ensued and then the mockery began.

      Why you crying about it? You must have wanted it. ALL MEN want it ALL the time.

      and so on…

  7. By your experiment about how there aren’t that many women with independent opinions it looks like you are pointing out how there aren’t that many women speaking something you can get along with. In short they don’t represent you, their words aren’t inline with your thinking, in other words you aren’t feeling them right?

    Not at all. Did you read what I said? They aren’t EXPRESSING opinions at all–only in those two examples. They are ornamentation and accessories, reciting lines men have written for them.

  8. And I will be back to comment further later on!

  9. Danny: Basically some feminists (by intent or mistake I don’t know) have come to a point where they try to use the systematic to erase the individual.

    But you did exactly that, when you erased the individual males I named above… for some reason, they aren’t the right kind of males. Why?

    Not all the males I named have power (as proof, I offer the fact I don’t even know some of their names)… many will disappear right back into obscurity after their top-40 hit fades away.

    My point was the ubiquity of male talking/expression, after you said “shut up and let us talk”–and I think men are talking all the time as it is. THAT is my point, not all this other tangential stuff you are bringing up.

    Men are writing the scripts. My point is: If the script is not what you think it should be, you should blame the men writing the scripts, not women.

    But somehow, the incorrect script is OUR fault again, right?

    • Danny says:

      But you did exactly that, when you erased the individual males I named above… for some reason, they aren’t the right kind of males. Why?
      No I’m saying that the ones you named don’t represent us all. Just as I don’t represent all of them. They should be able to speak just as I should be able to. Why do you have such a hard time with someone speaking up while at the same time saying you want the world to change?

      My point was the ubiquity of male talking/expression, after you said “shut up and let us talk”–and I think men are talking all the time as it is. THAT is my point, not all this other tangential stuff you are bringing up.
      Cool let’s get back to that so I can spell it out for you once and for all and eliminate the doubt. You “think men are talking all the time as it is”. Men as a whole (and I find it odd that men are only a monolith when it comes to bad behavior) are not and trying to hold up those few is not enough to get me to think, “Oh well they speak for me so well I can just be quiet now.” is not going to work.

      Men are writing the scripts. My point is: If the script is not what you think it should be, you should blame the men writing the scripts, not women.

      But somehow, the incorrect script is OUR fault again, right?
      And here we go again trying to absolve women of responsibility for any hand in those scripts (“It wasn’t her fault teh patriarchy made her do it” right?). Yeah some men are writing those scripts and I would like to see them done away with but the only way that will happen is to change the minds of the men AND women that create them, enforce them, take advantage of them, and otherwise not contributing to doing away with them. I’m sure it would be nice to think that women had no hand in the system as it stands (helps with that whole eternal victimhood status of women I guess) and no woman is capable of bad behavior on her own volition but its not that simple.

    • Danny says:

      And one more thing. In addition to:”Cool let’s get back to that so I can spell it out for you once and for all and eliminate the doubt. You “think men are talking all the time as it is”. Men as a whole (and I find it odd that men are only a monolith when it comes to bad behavior) are not and trying to hold up those few is not enough to get me to think, “Oh well they speak for me so well I can just be quiet now.” is not going to work.”

      I’ll add:
      The point behind this post was to speak on how limited men’s voices can really be at times.

    • Jim says:

      “Men are writing the scripts. My point is: If the script is not what you think it should be, you should blame the men writing the scripts, not women.
      But somehow, the incorrect script is OUR fault again, right?”

      These men you mention are all whores. They are in trade , in every sense of that term, whether that trade be journalism, politics or some other sector of the entertainment industry. It’s not that there is something wrong with these specific men, it’s what wrong with their motives and credibilty as spokesmen for anyone but their masters and johns (janes, more often).

      They are in trade, and the customer is always right. These customers, male and female, buy into and want to see reflected the standard gender roles, and that is what Danny is criticizing, if in fairly confusing terms.

      Women tend to have greater consumer purchasing power, so in some aspects they may drive this more, but that falls apart pretty quickly if you look at the discourse and who is saying what. Men do a huge amount of the gender policing on men, with women often chiming in and toadying. I’m sure that happens in reverse the other way, but that isn’t the topic at the moment.

      But that just reinforces Danny’s point. Pointing to all these men talking, talking ,talking, but never about these issues just reinforces his point.

  10. Thene says:

    Danny, it sure seems like every time you reply to Daisy, you try to get further from the original point, which is that society is full of men talking. Not just on TV – do you want to try the same experiment, and flip 40 or so channels and see how many male reporters and speakers you hear compared to women? Or do you want to walk into a bookshop and compare the ratio of male to female writers, male to female protagonists?

    I didn’t see Daisy or anyone else dispute your assertion that men need to acknowledge their pain more readily and more publicly. But you chose to frame that as ‘getting the rest of society to basically shut the hell up and let us talk.’ Why does the ‘rest of society’ need to shut the hell up in order for you to talk? Has anyone ever shut up to allow feminists to talk? No – you’ve got to learn to speak even though no one else is going to shut up and offer you the floor.

    • Danny says:

      I didn’t see Daisy or anyone else dispute your assertion that men need to acknowledge their pain more readily and more publicly.
      The reason I felt that reaction from Daisy (whether she meant it or not) is that it seemed like she was trying use that men are doing most of the talking already argument as a way to dispute what I was trying to say. As in there are already enough men talking already so I need to just shut up.

      Why does the ‘rest of society’ need to shut the hell up in order for you to talk?
      I meant that specifically in the sense of when I’m talking about myself I don’t need or want other people trying to talk for me.

      Has anyone ever shut up to allow feminists to talk? No – you’ve got to learn to speak even though no one else is going to shut up and offer you the floor.
      Doesn’t stop them from trying to shut people up. Maybe its just my wishful thinking of wanting everyone to get along but it just seems that the constant back and forth of people from all sides trying to take the floor from other people just isn’t working. There are times to speak and times to listen.

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