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Womansplaining 101: The Misdiagnosis of the Male Experience

It continues to baffle me, how most books, articles, lectures, and media segments that are made about the male experience are explained by women. The same women who have rightfully complained about how many men try to tell them what it's like to be a woman will then turn around and confidently diagnose male experiences. 

Just recently I was enjoying a show called “Welcome to Wrexham” about how two Hollywood celebrities got together to buy and rebuild one of the oldest football (soccer) clubs in a small town of northern Wales. Out of nowhere, the episode starts by trying to explain the “bromance” between the two male stars of the show by bringing in an expert on the subject who wrote an entire book about male psychology, and it was - you guessed it…- a woman.

Womansplaining 101: The Misdiagnosis of the Male Experience

And far from having a great take on the male experience, we get the same old tired argument that men cannot express their emotions because of “what they are told the ideal version of masculinity is.” 

What is this idealized version of masculinity we have all been force-fed?

She only mentions two words… Domination and aggression. 

I’ve lived my whole life as a man, and I’ve talked to enough men to confidently say that men are never told to be aggressive and dominant in our society, in fact, quite the opposite.

The reason why I find it both frustrating and harmful to spread these ideas is that it creates more of the same problems it is trying to solve by talking down to men and treating them like misguided children rather than allowing them to use their own voices. 

Men in general do struggle with emotion, but it’s not because of “toxic masculinity” or some ideal version of masculinity that keeps them from showing any emotion. As is usually the case, it’s much more complicated than that.

How do these arguments spread?

It is absolutely natural for any human being to try and paint the world and how other people behave in it through the lens of their own experience. Whenever we see someone behave in a way that may seem strange to us we try to ask ourselves what we would do in that situation in order to understand it.

For example: If a woman sees a man telling another man, who is clearly upset, not to cry she might find it horrible. Because if she was upset and someone told her not to cry she would feel attacked by that person and therefore she would deem that behavior “toxic” or problematic.

Womansplaining 101: The Misdiagnosis of the Male Experience

It’s also the reason why often men say that women are absolutely crazy.

We expect the opposite sex to behave as we do, and when they don’t we call them toxic or crazy respectively. 

Women often think that men are just hairy women and with women directing the narrative of the male experience it’s easy to see why most people believe the main cause of men’s emotional struggles is because of the “toxic” behavior of other men.

What is the real cause?

Well, as far as I can tell it can be boiled down to two major factors…

Children are very practical. And from a very young age little girls are rewarded for being emotional, they often receive all kinds of attention from people when they are upset and some grown women often fake crying to get what they want or get out of a bad situation.

The same doesn’t apply to boys as they are often told to dry their eyes and get back on the proverbial horse. And grown men crying are often looked at with disgust from both men and women.

Intellectually we tell men to open up and share their emotions, but when they do, not a lot of people are too eager to listen. Our society punishes men for being too emotional.

However, I don’t think this is entirely a bad thing and I’ll explain why.

Men have on average stronger bodies than women, you can hate me for saying that, but it’s a fact. On average men are stronger than women and because of that strength, they are capable of hurting other men, or worse, women. 

If a man isn’t able to control his emotional outbursts he can become a danger to himself and those around him. Men are also looked at for leadership in hard times because of that strength, and if he is not able to control his emotions during these hard times he might end up putting others in danger.

Womansplaining 101: The Misdiagnosis of the Male Experience

And as for the second reason, men often because of them being punished for showing too much emotion, don’t really know how to put their emotions into words. It has a name: Alexithymia and most men suffer from it. I’ve also heard it be described as a lack of “emotional literacy” which seems like a great description to me. 

Personally, this is something I had to learn as an adult and I sometimes struggle with myself, though not as much as I used to. 

Some men never learn how to express their emotions and because of that they often don’t even bother. Which can have a deep effect on romantic relationships and a man’s mental health.

What the experts get wrong.

Most of the female experts on male behavior say that a man who doesn’t express his emotions and shows typical masculine traits like physical strength and assertiveness is dangerous and potentially abusive towards women. This is what’s commonly described as “toxic masculinity.”

When in reality it’s men who are overly emotional, who are physically weak, and are not assertive who become very dangerous. Men who lack emotional literacy but have strong emotional outbursts often end up confused, frustrated, and insecure. This makes them then turn to other ways of feeling significant which can lead to either lying and manipulating others or physically hurting those who are weaker than them behind closed doors.

Abusive men are often abusive because of a deep-rooted insecurity and trying to make men more feminine creates more potentially insecure men who could then turn abusive. 

Obviously, this is not always the case, but for the majority of men suppressing their masculinity leads to deep discomfort and unstable mental health. 

By the way, the same can often be said for women suppressing their femininity, though it shows up differently in them.

Like I said we often view other people’s experiences through the lens of our own lives, past, beliefs, and ideas. And it’s really hard for us to look at other people’s experiences through an objective lens, as one of my favorite quotes explains…

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.”

-Thomas Sowell

So I don’t fault these women for getting it wrong, I would get a lot of things wrong if I tried to explain what being a woman is like because I have never had that experience. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up as a girl into a woman and all it carries with it. I make an educated guess, but that’s all it can be. And to be fair, I can gather stories, talk to women, and get really close to the actual thing, but that’s rarely the case.

How we move forward…

If you’ve been following me I am a person who hates presenting problems without at least discussing a possible solution. I don’t like to complain for the sake of complaining, I find it irritating to say the least.

So, how do we move forward in today’s society with men’s issues and their mental health?

While I’m always optimistic about the potential of human beings I’m also pragmatic about the current state of the world when it comes to how we view men and their unique struggles.

Social media has done a great job of exposing the problems that men face on a daily basis. Like boys falling behind in school, family court, fatherlessness, male suicide, male deaths in the workplace, sexual abuse in prisons, and I could go on. The problem is society doesn’t really care about any of this, no matter how much people talk about these things the numbers stay the same. And the usual response from media outlets is “Men need to do better.

We will mobilize every resource to help every other group but not men, either because we are seen as “oppressors” or as capable of handling it by ourselves. 

All this is to say that no one is coming to save us.

So, what’s the solution?

It’s up to us to save ourselves. More men need to practice emotional literacy, we need to create male spaces for us to get together and support each other. We need to let the world know that we also struggle, we also bleed, and we also hurt. We are not in a giant boy’s club figuring out ways to keep everyone down, and we are allowed to be ourselves.

We need to stop apologizing and start making some noise so that we can start to be taken seriously.

We need male voices to talk about the male experience in an accurate way that stops portraying us as emotionally stunted cavemen and actually shows the nuances of our lived experiences.

And yes, people will fight it. Just for saying some of these things, I’ve been called, problematic, misogynistic, toxic, anti-feminist, bigoted, racist (for some reason), and anti-women.

I love women, I was raised by women, I am of mixed “race”, and I am not anti-anything.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again…

Ladies I love you, but not everything is about you.

You already have movements to fight for your rights and struggles, I’m fighting for the same thing for me and other people like me. I can fight for men and still cheer for you, the two things are not directly opposed.

But what do you think?

Let me know your thoughts below, just keep it respectful.

Thank you for reading.

Yamil Senior

Master your destiny

And make this an amazing day

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