Siege: “”a military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside.”
How are boys under attack? Well, they learn that
Their sex has caused the world’s problems,
That Men are privileged.
That men are toxic and have oppressed women.
That Men just need to step aside and let women run things, then things would be better.
They learn that Boys are inherently inferior and simply need to try to be more like the girls.
These messages get expressed repeatedly both actively and passively. Often subtle but sometimes blatant. They are unmistakable and are forced upon the boys without any counterpoint or any option for them to challenge or argue. These are the default. To argue would be unheard of. A third grader rarely argues with his teacher. She is queen and only speaks the truth. So boys are forced to shut up and accept the narrative that something is wrong with their sex.
Such hateful and persistent messages are hurtful and abusive to our boys. And yet no one complains.
What does it do to anyone who hears a constant drone of negative about their identity? Day in and day out you hear there is something inherently wrong with you. You are helpless since you have no way to respond. What does years of that do to a person?
There are several research driven ideas that help us understand the intensity these messages may have on boys. One is the concept of learned helplessness. In studies, animals have been given negative stimuli repeatedly without any opportunity to escape. After many repetitions the animals simply give up. They stop trying. Many are thinking this could be related to the origin of anxiety or depression. Could a similar principle be at play with boys and their involuntary exposure to hateful messages? It’s not a stretch to see how boys being bombarded with negative messages about their sex are put in a helpless position not unlike the learned helplessness situations. Might there be a cumulative effect?
Another research driven concept is that of the Stereotype Threat. An example of stereotype threat is the idea that girls are exposed to stereotypes when young that claim that girls are not so great at science and math. Some are thinking this early exposure may impact their later disinterest in sciences. Okay. Maybe so. But now think if that is true what sort of huge factor all of the anti-male messages that are being sent to boys might have on him? If the girls are negatively impacted by a minority message that they aren’t as good at math and science just imagine the impact of the multiude of misandrist messages boys receive. What might that do to them? Does anyone care? I don’t think so.
Then there is the element of self fulfilling prophecy. When people hear negative ideas about them it increases the chances that those negatives will come to fruition. Think about all of the negatives boys hear about their sex and just stand back and imagine what impact that might have?
Keep in mind that we know that the brain has great plasticity, that is it can alter itself with the advent of new information. When children are young they are particularly susceptible to negative messages having an impact on their young brains. The research shows us that children who were abused suffer from a lack of myelonization of their axons. Many think that this is one of the causes of depression and anxiety. What they have also found is that physical abuse AND emotional abuse both have the same impact on the brain. Wouldn’t it be easy to characterize the many negative anti male messages that boys receive as being somewhat similar to emotional abuse? One definition of emotional child abuse is “The caregiver refuses to acknowledge the child’s worth.” Seems to me that this is similar to what boys hear every day. The brains of our young are sensitive to stressors. It’s not a big leap to see that having one’s sex be disparaged on a regular basis is indeed a significant stressor.
The messages boys receive are a part of a huge double standard where boys are seen as the problem and girls are seen as the answer. Another frame for double standards towards boys has to do with the issue of violence.
Yet another place you see this radical double standard is around the issues of violence. It has been a long standing requirement in our culture to demand boys not hit girls. Yeah, so be it. But in our increasingly feminist drenched schools something started happening more frequently. Girls started hitting boys. And what was the administrative response to this. Nothing. No one lifted a finger. Even when boys had the courage to complain to teachers that a girl had pinched, hit, pushed, slapped, or kicked him he was told to go to his seat and not complain. I have heard many boys say the same thing. When they hit there is immediate punishment, and when the girls hit there is nothing. No one cares.
It didn’t take long for some devious girls to realize they could attack whenever they wished. And they did. While most girls would never do such a thing, those who chose to attack under the protection of the gynocentric double standard made the boys lives very difficult. What did the boys learn from this interaction? They learned that You, as a boy, do not deserve protection. Your pain is not important. It’s not as important as the girls. Shut up and quit complaining. Sound like emotional abuse to you? It does to me.
It’s important to note here that though it was a minority of girls doing this, the majority of girls did not call out the perps and would generally say nothing. They were willing to sell the boys down the river and allow the aggressive girls to do their evil.
So how do you think that feels for boys? They likely have superior strength but when attacked they are required to stand down. Pretty tough lesson for a little guy don’t ya think? I wonder sometimes if the situation was reversed how would girls respond? Boys could hit them when they wanted and they could neither complain or defend themselves. If they went to the teacher they would be ignored. Hmmmm I’m guessing they would not handle it so well. I marvel at how the majority of boys have learned to deal with this blatant and hateful double standard.
There is much said about the end of men or men becoming obsolete. But wait a minute. Is there a shred of truth in that? Men are doing basically the same things they did fifty years ago. The percent of married men with children have dropped a few percent in the workforce over the years. So what role has changed? Well, it’s not the male role, it’s more likely the female role. I think it’s more accurate to talk about the end of women and here’s why.
Sixty years ago women’s role was dominated by being in the home and birthing and caring for children. Nearly 30% of married women worked but many more were stay at home moms. They were really good at it. The culture praised them for their compassion with children, their nurturing abilities, their dedication to their children, their love for family and respect for men. Do you see much of that anymore? I don’t. The worst of it is that we now sub-contract child care to those who don’t really love the children in the same way a parent can love them. This is done just so women can partake in the male role. Hmmm. Does that sound like the role of men is ending? I don’t think so. It’s even more confusing when you realize that women are trying hard to be like men, to take on their role, you know, those people whom feminist leaders blame for everything and ask why they can’t hate them. Those people.
When was the last time you saw a woman praised for her compassion, kindness or nurturing? When was the last time you heard a woman offer a kind word or a word of praise about men in general? Maybe a bit but not so much. It is clearly the female role that is changing and yet what we hear from women is that it is the male role that is ending. Why this projection? Why the need to deflect from their own loss and point to another as the real loser? Pretty strange when you think about it.
Perhaps it’s because they either really miss the old role and are denying this, or they are ignorant of what they are missing. Either way it seems clear that women have been indoctrinated/brainwashed by feminists and are succumbing to their new role without complaints. Maybe a function of the female in-group bias. Who knows?
When my children were young both my wife and I went part time enabling at least one of us to be with the kids pretty much 24 hours a day. I can tell you that this was a wonderful time of my life. Yes, it was a huge pain in the butt but the payoffs were astronomical. My kids grew up knowing my temperament and I grew up knowing theirs. We each made adjustments for the other and during that time they knew they were stewarded by a parent who loved them. And the parents got the benefit of being a part of a loving living unit that day in and day out gave the children a space to grow where they faced limits and love all in a container with both a mom and dad on hand.
Why is this important? Well, firstly because the very thing I valued so highly in my own history is what women are now missing. They are trashing their old role and feigning contentment. Just look at the happiness studies and who is it that is considerably less happy today, men or women? Yep, it’s the women. Could they be so dulled that they don’t realize they are trading in the area where they excel and find joy for one that is not bringing them the satisfaction and happiness? Do we hear even a slight peep from women saying they miss their closeness and intimacy? I don’t.
Research is now finding that a baby and parents have what they are calling bio-behavioral synchrony. Yes, they are finding that their hormones synch up and the baby responds to this synchrony as do the parents. One of the findings is that when the fathers oxytocin goes up so does the baby’s. This is an astounding finding that simply by one parent’s increase in a hormone the other is also raised. Interesting stuff, but it gets even more interesting. The baby is particular about the types of behaviors that raise its oxytocin. What they have found is that the baby’s oxytocin will raise when the father engages in exploratory play, stimulatory behaviors etc while the baby responds to mom when it is nurtured with cooing motherese they call it, gentle nurturing touch and you get the picture. Today’s babies are missing hours and hours each day of that mothering role and sadly they are more and more missing the role of dads. Both of these are being shown to be instrumental in the health and development of the child. And both of these are getting more and more rare.
So now what do we have? We have babies who are thrust into environments where the chances of someone with the same attachment as mom and dad is infinitesimally small. No one at day care is going to have the same attachment and the same nurturing behaviors as mom or dad. No one. We are robbing them by limiting the female role and excluding dads from the home.
It’s a sad fact that really what we are seeing is the end of women as we have known them. Sad but true.
A menaregood video on relational aggression. You can watch the video or read the exact script below.
A gynocentric world is a dangerous place for men. The hazards are many including traps that are simply beyond the awareness of most. Relational aggression is one of those traps. Most of us are aware of the physical violence of many women and the cultures disinterest in holding women accountable but this is different. Relational aggression is more insidious due to its invisibility and the encouragement from the culture at large. Let’s have a look at this trap called relational aggression.
We have spent nearly 50 years warning women about men’s physical aggression. We’ve created laws, built institutions and flooded the media in efforts to protect women. In the process we have been told repeatedly that this is not just a problem of a few men who are out of control but instead is a problem of all men and their masculinity. This is Crazy stuff.
All the while there has been a muffled silence about women’s aggression. Some has trickled through like a bit of attention on mean girls but the reality and lethality of women’s aggression has rarely leaked into the media. The sad news is that women’s aggression is really a trap for men. Being aware of the trap may help you navigate and steer clear.
With that background let’s have a good look at women’s relational aggression, how it works, where it starts and the dangers and traps that men face as a result. We will also spend a little time in looking at how this form of aggression impacts nearly all men’s issues and importantly how feminism is literally based on this form of aggression but is never called out for it.
Let’s get started.
Relational aggression starts early. The youngest female researchers have identified practicing relational aggression was 2.5 years old. But what is this thing called relational aggression?
The best definition I have seen calls it “Bullying without physical violence.” That sums it up pretty well. Researchers define it something like this:
Behaviors that harm others through damage (or threat of damage) to relationships. They go on to talk about how relational aggression is meant to destroy feelings of acceptance, friendship, or group inclusion. Basically attacking someones identity and trying your best to hurt them without being violent.
How is this accomplished? Well through excluding, ignoring, teasing, gossiping, secrets, backstabbing, lies, false accusations, rumor spreading and hostile body language (i.e., eye-rolling and smirking).
These may sound more tame than physical aggression but think about it. How many suicides have you heard about that were due to someone getting beat up repeatedly? Maybe a few. But then think about how many suicides you have heard about from people being ostracized or shamed by groups? I have heard more of those and I am betting you have too.
So this stuff is lethal. It may sound harmless but that is simply not the case. It can lead to very serious consequences including what is being called 3rd prty abuse which is when relational aggression tricks authorities into unwittingly continuing the abuse.
Relational aggression is also stealth. With physical aggression you leave bruises, scars, or broken bones. These things can be seen. People gasp when they see them. But how about relational aggression? You can’t see it. It Is basically invisible. If that wasn’t bad enough, the invisibility also makes it very difficult to challenge. Try proving someone gossiped and spread lies about you. Try disproving a false accusation. Both nearly impossible but both potentially lethal. This leaves relational violence a stealth tool that is so easy to deny. “Who me? I didn’t do anything, why are YOU so upset about nothing?” And of course gynocentrism plays its ugly part in all this in protecting the lying female making matters worse still.
This is not to say that there are no physically violent women. There are. The research has found some interesting things about violent women. It seems that those women who are physically aggressive and men who are relationally aggressive have been found to have more psychological pathological than their counterparts. So be on the lookout for relationally aggressive men and physically aggressive women. Danger Will Robinson. Danger!
Some are seeing that one precursor for relational aggression is what they are calllng “hostility attribution bias.” Basically this means that the person assumes wrongly that a hostile act has occurred and wrongly assume it was directed towards them. Say a young girl sees two friends whispering and wrongly assumes it is about her. She is a experiencing hostility attribution bias and this apparently occurs more with girls and women in relationships.
How many times as a man have I heard something from a woman claiming that I thought a certain way or did something for a certain reason. I know it is completely false but she is beyond convinced that she is right and I am lying. This ever happened to you? I bet it has, repeatedly. The researchers are saying that sometimes it is this hostility attribution bias that stimulates the relational aggression. Makes sense to me and it gives us a clue about how to defend ourselves. Beware of the hostility attribution bias. This is a red hot danger sign. Run if you can.
One researcher, Nicki Crick, studied young boys and girls and found some very interesting results. She noted that 15.6% of the young boys used physical aggression but only .4% of the girls. She also found that 17.4% of the girls used relational aggression and only 2% of the boys. Crick totaled these and realized that the boys and girls were equally aggressive, they just had different paths to get there. The boys were more physical, the girls more relational. More and more of recent research is working to measure both relational aggression and physical aggression but you still don’t hear much about that in the media.
One might assume that if boys and girls have similar levels of aggression that you would find that the culture would address both. Right? Wrong. Our gynocentric culture perseverates on the aggression if males and ignores and even promotes the relational aggression. Men’s violence is seen as atrocious and wicked and women’s relational aggression is ignored.
One indicator of this bias was shown by researchers when they studied the animated films of Disney. What did they find? They found that 100% of the animated Disney films contained relational aggression and specifically found that the average was 11 relationally aggressive acts per hour. That’s an act every 6 minutes or so. The relational aggression was often portrayed as justified and shown to have few negative consequences. The worst news is that such aggression was often portrayed by female characters who were attractive, rich, and popular.
The media is literally training our young girls that it is okay to be relationally aggressive, in fact it is what rich, attractive, and popular girls do. There are no calls of concern from parents or teachers to stop this. I hope you are getting a picture of how dangerous this is for men and boys.
The trend for girls to be more relationally aggressive than boys continues into adolescence and beyond. There is some evidence that men start using more relational aggression as they get older but I think the accepted idea is that women are more likely to use relational aggression. It does make one wonder why.
Why Relational Aggression?
The evolutionary psychologists have some ideas about that. They say that men for eons have had to aggressively compete with other men in order to seek reproductive access, in other words, get the girl. In doing this they would form hierarchies not unlike other primate males who physically compete for alpha status. The higher your status in the hierarchy the more likely you get the top female. Men became accustomed to competing with their fellows and taking their place within a hierarchy of winners and losers and all those in between. Women on the other hand didn’t have the same need to aggressively compete for a mate. She was a chooser not a competer. Instead women needed a community to aid her while she was dependent due to being pregnant and raising children. This pushed women to not compete, but to strive to be an accepted part of the group. If a woman tried to elevate herself above the others in her group she was seen as an outlier, someone who was betraying the group by trying to make themselves appear above the others and this was discouraged or even punished. So the idea was to only be aggressive if it was stealth and could be easily denied. This insured their place in the group.
Present day psychologists see this tendency in the workforce where if a woman appears to be succeeding and doing better than the other women at the office she is often subject to relationally aggressive attacks by the other females. Gossip, finger pointing, rumours, lies etc. This hides their aggressiveness since open aggression would be seen as counter to the group cohesiveness. Making the attacks quiet keeps the group stable. She doesn’t sacrifice her group inclusion.
Researchers have found that Women’s in-group preference, that is an automatic preference for their own gender is over four times as important as a male’s in-group preference is for him. Women depend on other women and are reluctant to risk exclusion.
Another example of women being dependent upon the group is the recent understanding of how women heal from loss and stress. Shelly Taylor’s research found that women, when stressed, move towards interaction and other people. Women depend on others, mostly other women, to aid in their healing unlike men who tend to heal through action, or inaction on their own. This makes a women’s group of friends important to her for her own healing and offers us more reasons why she would not want to appear overtly aggressive and risk being excluded.
This actually explains something I saw in a research study years ago. The study had men and women playing a computer war game. The subjects were to decide how much to bomb the opponents. Under most conditions the women bombed far less than the men, but in one condition they bombed as much or more than the men. That was when others could not see how much the women were bombing! As long as no one could see, it was bombs away! The researchers were puzzled but Again, this seems to show the female preference for relational aggression that can be hidden and easily denied.
So how does relational aggression play out in men’s issues? Simple. It is embedded in just about all of it. Think about divorce and parental alienation. What an alienating mother does to the child is all relational aggression. She is telling lies to the child about the father, she is attempting to use those lies to hurt the father. This is relational aggression. And it is obviously lethal.
Think about false accusations. Falsely accusing a man of rape is straight up relational aggression. It is lying with the intent to cause pain.
Both cases, the Parental Alienation and the false accusation show us something important. The lies that are used are very difficult to disprove and are very easily denied. If the father or the falsely accused man challenges the woman it is simple for her to deny and blow it off. If it ever gets to the point of her needing to admit she did this she can then say, “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.” It is nearly impossible to disprove a false accusation. And keep in mind in both of these instances it is likely the authorities will get involved and become a tag team with 3rd party abuse.
Think of domestic violence. The feminists have maintained for decades that domestic violence is all about violent men beating innocent women. But is that really the truth? There are likely a small minority of couples where the husband is a sociopath and the feminist version is close to being correct but I think those situations are very rare. Research has shown us that most domestic violence is reciprocal. That is, both parties are involved in the altercations. So how did they get to the point where the man would hit her? It doesn’t take much creativity to realize that she likely used relational aggression of some sort that lit his fuse and eventually moved into their violent interchange. It’s a very good guess that she is using her relational aggression skills to create as much pain in him as she can and then he blows his top and the feminist oligarchy comes in and ignores her part in igniting the fuse and only focuses on his overt violence. Then the entire 3rd party abuse Duluth treatment regime takes over and officially sees him as the problem and her as the victim. That is insane.
It wasn’t always like that. When I worked at a mental health center in the 1970’s we were trying to help female victims of DV. At that time the feminists did not have a stranglehold over the services like they do now. There were competing voices. One of those competing voices was those doing family therapy. They believed that in the majority of cases (excluding the sociopaths) that what was needed was to help the couple with conflict resolution. This of course really pissed off the feminists since it negated their idea of bad man victim woman. A huge fight ensued between the two groups and as you can imagine the feminists won. Who knows what sorts of relational aggression they used to get their way. They needed to be sure that their basic assumption of men bad women victim was not tarnished or given a secondary place. Thus the feminists submarined any kind of attention that might have been paid to the woman’s side of the problem. Only men were the bad guys.
Feminism is Relational Aggression, They are the mean girls.
Where did that come from? Think back to the hostility attribution bias. Remember that? When you wrongly assume intent? The whole of feminism has a massive hostility attribution bias in their assumptions that men are the root of their problem. They blame men. Individuals misinterpret single interactions while groups like feminism misinterpret huge swaths of reality. The feminists have misinterpreted men’s providing and protecting of women for ages as being the oppression of women. That’s hostility attribution bias on steroids. Somehow they have convinced nearly everyone that this falsehood is the truth. Of course it is not and it is merely a mistaken assumption but in this case it is a deadly one.
Feminists start by swallowing a huge hostility attribution bias but they go much farther. In so many ways feminists act like mean girls. Don’t disagree with a mean girl, if you do you will pay a huge price. Same thing with feminism. Try disagreeing with a feminist and see what happens. Mean girls. Feminists bully by relational aggression. They have been telling lies and spreading rumors about men for decades and everyone assumes they are being honest. That’s Relational aggression. They threaten their own members with exclusion if they don’t follow the exact party line much like the mean girls do. They bully. They use the same exclusionary threats with legislators when they demand their bills are passed or else they will exclude them and label them as misogynists. Our cowardly legislators have been unable to rise above the bullying and the open blackmailing and this has left us with laws that are written by bullies with a huge bias.
Mean girls know they lie, and so do feminists. But they also lie about lying. Take false accusations as an example. The false accusation itself is purely relational aggression. It is a lie told that is meant to hurt. But the mean girl feminists add on to that. They lie that women never lie. This entire idea of forcing everyone to always believe the woman no matter what, is actually a relational aggression since it is simply a lie on top of another lie. I mean really. Could these people really believe that women never lie? They don’t, but they are willing to lie in order to get their way, just like the mean girls.
In the end it is all about power and control. The two very things they accuse domestic violence abusers of doing. Mean girls demand power and control and so do feminists. I think it is time we started to call feminists mean girls, and point out their relational aggressiveness every time we see it.
We need to do the same thing with the women in our lives whether it is our spouses, sisters, mothers or whoever. We need to keep our eyes peeled for hostile attribution bias and for relational aggression and call them out when we see them. Most importantly we need to maintain our cool and calmness as we confront. Speak the truth and don’t back down. Remember the relational violence is intended to get you upset and pissed off. Don’t let it. Your upset WILL be used against you. Calmness will help you turn the tables. If you disallow them to piss you off it will likely backfire and instead they will be the ones to blow.
So guys I hope you are seeing that relational aggression leaves men in a very vulnerable state. Women are literally encouraged to practice this stuff at your expense and the expense of your children. Use caution and keep in mind that men are good, as are you.
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This is a quick excerpt from the Helping Mothers book (pg 84) about a school that uses boys competitive nature to make school enjoyable and productive for the boys. The book tries to help parents see that the same strategies can be used at home in a variety of ways from discipline, to chores, to having fun.
There’s a private boys’ school outside of Washington DC, the Mater Dei School, that uses boys’ competitive nature to help in both deportment and scholarship. They divided the school into two groups, the Blues and the Whites. When you enroll in that school you are assigned either to the white or the blue team. From that point forward everything you do creates points for or against your team. If you get straight A’s, your team benefits, do more community service, your team benefits. If you excel in sports or extra-curricular activities your team gets points. The rivalry is fierce. The boys push each other to get more points and when they have more points they get both special privileges and bragging rights. Needless to say, the boys do much of the policing and the grades are top notch. Compare this to our default public schools that have removed competition from the curriculum. Schooling has become increasingly buffered from all things competition. The focus is not on who is first, second and third, the focus is on getting along, being nice to each other, and staying quiet. It doesn’t take much to notice where the boys are doing better. Give them some competition.
school also awards a young boy once a week with the school prize for best
school citizen. The boys strive to get the award. The older boys also have an
award but theirs is monthly and rather than be decided by the teachers and
administrators, the older boys vote on a winner among their peers. This school
is very wise in giving boys the opportunity to succeed with recognition and
also giving the older boys more responsibility for their own behavior and
evaluation of their peers. My hat is off to this school.
The sexes are different in their strategies to get what they want. This difference starts early. Boys tend to be more physical and direct, demanding or playfully pushing another boy in order to obtain what he wants. Girls don’t seem to like this sort of method. Girls are more likely to use words or relational means to get what they want. Boys tend not to respond to this. Neither sex seems to be too keen on the other’s modes.
To get a better idea of how boys and girls differ in this
way, lets look briefly at the anthropological research of Ritch Savin Williams
observing an adolescent summer camp.17 Groups of boys and girls aged eleven to
fourteen were housed in their own cabins. Let’s look at the boys’ cabins first.
Very soon after arrival, the boys started challenging each
other, sometimes telling each other what to do, sometimes putting the other
boys down. Each of these were maneuvers to try to attain higher dominance in
the hierarchy of boys. Pushing and shoving was not unusual nor was making fun
of weakness. In fact if weakness was exposed, the other boys would sometimes join
in to mark their own dominance. Some boys barked orders and others followed,
while some put up a challenge. The boys’ pecking order, their hierarchy, was
being made clear to all and it happened fairly quickly.
Savin Williams found that both boys and girls used ridicule
and name-calling as a means to create higher dominance. But there were some
strategies used by the girls that were very different. Unlike the boys, Savin
Williams says that the girls maintained a sweet and agreeable attitude for the
first week, making friends and being nice. But after the first week was up the
girls started their own ploys to gain dominance. Their modes were more relational
and less direct. Girls would ignore someone, or appear to “not hear” another
girl in order to maintain dominance. Other tactics included gossip, social
alienation, misinformation and withholding eye contact.
The boys’ strategy seems to be overt and out in the open.
They seem to lack concern for the feeling reactions of their friends and are
more likely to throw their weight around with bravado in order to be higher on
the hierarchy. They just don’t seem to care as much if someone gets hurt in the
process. The important thing is to be on top. We can see this sort of thing
when boys are together with their friends and they will openly put each other
down. Moms get upset with this but it needs to be understood as being their way
to navigate the hierarchy. This does not mean that we shouldn’t help boys find
kindness towards their friends; it does however mean that we need to understand
these behaviors in their context.
The girls’ strategy seems more passive and clandestine.
Savant Williams tells us that the girls, unlike the boys, seem to want to be
perceived as “nice” and maintain that image whenever possible thus they take a
week to build alliances prior to starting to use dominance tactics. Their
dominance strategies are designed to be stealthy. Their strategies are often
easily denied as not being “on purpose” or by claiming they had no motive to hurt.
All the while the hurtful behaviors flow via social alienation, gossip,
exclusion and other means.
Both boys’ and girls’ strategies leave some chaos in their aftermath, the boys’ more overt and the girls’ more covert. Both strategies are designed to create and maintain dominance over their peers. It is easy to see how these very different strategies don’t mix very well. This may play into what we will look at next, the very different ways that boys and girls choose to play.
In part one we discussed the lethal game that is played by our culture that pretends that women’s ways of emoting are the default and that men are somehow deficient and less human because they don’t emote like women. If you haven’t read part one you can do so here.
We discussed the first two reasons that women are wrong about men and emotions. The first was that a man’s pain is taboo. No one wants to hear it, see it or be with it. Men know this and therefore move to a more solitary or active process to deal with things.
The second reason was hierarchy. Scientists have now “discovered” that men live in a hierarchy and are regularly tested on whether they are a man or not. Men are aware of this and avoid public emoting due to the rapid free fall in their hierarchical standing that often follows public.
The third reason is that men are denied any form of dependency. Think about it. Men will usually prefer to do it themselves and will avoid asking for help. Women make fun of this or they try to shame the man for his preference for independence. Men are geared to work towards independence. Why? Because independence is what is valued by women. Women tend to prefer men who are independent and will avoid those who are dependent. Men know this and are also aware that the culture at large prefers independent men. Emoting is a sure sign of dependency. This moves men to be as independent as possible. Here’s a quote that captures this in a profound manner. It’s from an article by a man named Peter Marin about homelessness:
To put it simply: men are neither supposed nor allowed to be dependent. They are expected to take care of others and themselves. And when they cannot or will not do it, then the assumption at the heart of the culture is that they are somehow less than men and therefore unworthy of help. An irony asserts itself: by being in need of help, men forfeit the right to it. (Peter Marin Abandoning Men: Jill Gets Welfare, Jack Becomes Homeless)
Men know that if they appear dependent they, as Marin so aptly put it, will forfeit the right to being helped. Is it any wonder that men will avoid dependency? Women tend to not understand this.
The fourth reason is that men continue to be locked into their sex roles including the provide and protect role. While women’s roles have become more loosened, men continue to be stuck in their traditional rigid roles. Think about you and your spouse waking up in the middle of the night after hearing a loud BOOM. Who goes to check? If she goes she gets all sorts of accolades for bravery etc etc. It she doesn’t go she is still okay. That’s her role flexibility. Either way and she is okay. But what about the man. If he goes, all is well. But if he says, “Honey, I’m scared, how bout you go this time?” You would never hear the end of it. He would get every label and name in the book, from pussy to wimp and on and on. Men are locked into this role and the role demands that you keep your cool, feel the fear, and do it anyway. It also demands NO EMOTING. Imagine a cop goes to an accident and breaks down in tears because he is so upset. No. He does his job first. Everything else comes later. Men have this in their bio-computer. They get the job done. I don’t think women understand this.
I’ve gone on enough. We can save the last one for the next time. The fifth reason is a man’s biology and how it impacts his emoting. Don’t miss this one. It’s important and you won’t hear this in the media. Never.
I co-authored this Journal article with Lindsay Watson. It tells the story of the mistreatment males receive when they have the courage to seek out a mental health professional to aid in their grief. The article was published in the Journal of New Male Studies. I suggest you have a look at the other articles. Some interesting stuff.
Women don’t know a thing about the way men process emotions. Why should they? Their way of dealing with feelings is certified as THE way to do things. Why would she even consider there are alternate ways? But it is worse than that. Not only do they not know about men’s ways, they also participate in a huge cultural game of pointing the finger at men and telling them they don’t do it right! Men need to talk about their feelings and cry, cry, cry. They use this idea as the reason for why men do any possible negative behavior. You know, men who are violent, men who rage, men who are quiet, hell, men who get parking tickets. It’s all rolled into one big party and the finger is pointed and the claim is made that if only he was able to be human and deal with his feelings he would do this or that. Until he can learn to deal with his feelings he will be less than human. Pretty easy gambit to marginalize someone eh?
Entire industries are built on this lie. The therapy industry is just one of those. Then there is the media who write millions of words about this terrible handicap. But what are they missing?
Let’s talk about the first two of five things that they are missing:
1. A man’s emotional pain is taboo. Men are not dumb enough to run out in public and emote openly. They know that no one wants to hear it and those who do hear it will shame him. Think about it, if you are a man when was the last time your spouse really listened to your emotions? Most men will likely say never or extremely rarely. Oh but they expect you to listen to them, right? It’s like Warren Farrell says, when women say they want a man who is touch with his feelings they mean in touch with HER feelings. I’ve worked with hundreds of grieving men and my sample shows the percentage of women who really listen to the man’s pain is nearing zero. Men’s pain is taboo and a woman’s pain is a call to action.
2. Men live in a hierarchy. Research is slowly starting to realize this in their work on what they are calling Precarious Manhood. Men are judged on a daily basis on whether they are “men.” Women face no such judgement. The key for men to be as high in the hierarchy as possible at all costs. Men practice this. They are usually very good at it, and for good reason. If they emote in public they are judged harshly. So we have men, who have practiced this for years and all of the sudden we expect them to take a 180 and open up about their feelings? Fuck no. Opening up about feelings is a quick path to dropping on the hierarchy, way, way down. Women don’t understand a man’s avoidance of this because they have never experienced anything like what he goes through on a daily basis.
So many times I have heard from frustrated women who explain that when they need a loved one to listen to their situation, the man in their life seeks instead to “fix” things. They tell me that this leaves them missing that loving connection that comes from being heard and all too often leaves them with the fear that the man just doesn’t really care so much since he is more interested in fixing things.
Right. But wait. What doesn’t she know about men?
What the women are missing is that men have a natural tendency to want to fix things. Why do men want to fix things? Because it helps them feel better. I could tell you plenty of stories of working on an old car and being frustrated in getting one bolt out. I try and try and no matter what I do, it just won’t budge. Then when I figure it out and successfully pull out the offending bolt I am hit with a wonderful blast of feeling good! Men know this elation. It feels good to solve and fix things and men simply want to share that good feeling with those they love. When she tells him a problem he wants to give to her the same feeling he gets when things are fixed so of course he tries to fix it for her. He’s doing this because he cares, not because he doesn’t.
After explaining this to the women in therapy I let them know that there are things they can do to help this situation. One effective approach is to be sure the man knows exactly what you want. Be clear with him whether you want a consult or want to be consoled. If you want to be consoled tell him he doesn’t need to do anything, that you simply want him to sit with you and listen.
When women talk to their men about this good things happen. When he becomes aware that she doesn’t want a solution and simply wants him to listen he can relax! I have seen this repeatedly. When this is explained to men they are relieved to know what is wanted and make an easy shift to simply listening. Most men find this much easier than the responsibility for fixing.
Here’s something to try:
If you are a woman talk to the man in your life about being consoled versus being consulted. Work out ways to let each other know when you need each one. If you are a man, talk to the woman in your life and let her know you need her to be specific about what she wants from you.
When both know what is needed, good things usually happen!
When men enter into couples therapy with their wives or significant female others they will often come into what seems like foreign territory. Things don’t make sense and the language used is not so familiar. His needs seem far less addressed than his female partner. It seems to men like they are “out of place.” The first section of this article intends to offer men a primer on the basics of why they may feel out of place. The later section will focus on ideas about what they can do about it and tips for getting the most they can from the experience. It is worth noting that for biological reasons there are probably about 1 in 5 men who will feel more comfortable in the couples therapy setting. It is also true that 1 in 5 women will be more like most men. When this article addresses “men” it is directed towards that 80% of men and 20% of women. Bottom line? We are all very different and if you are a man or a woman and want to know more about the nature of couples therapy you may find this article useful. (For more information on these differences see my ebook The Way Men Heal at Amazon)
1. Men and Couples Therapy – Why is this hard for men?
The whole idea of sitting face to face and talking about emotions and hurt seems odd to many men. Men might feel more comfortable taking this sort of problem and hashing it out as they play a game of horse or shoot 18 holes of golf. They may feel more comfortable shoulder to shoulder or even by themselves but that is not the way this system of couples therapy is set up. This is just one of many factors that make this experience one that is more difficult for men.
Couples therapy uses a unique language that most men simply don’t know but most women speak fluently. This has an impact on what happens in couples treatment. Imagine visiting France. Your wife speaks fluent French and you speak a little. A Frenchman invites you to his table at a restaurant and a conversation unfolds. Who is he going to speak with? How will the conversation flow? Likely you will be secondary since you are simply not as fluent and your wife will translate to you the details that you miss. You rely on her to keep you informed about what is happening and you make your best guesses about the rest. Both your wife and the frenchman will probably not judge you harshly for not being fluent but even so, you will likely feel on the outside. Now think about a couples therapy session. You are likely not as fluent as the therapist and your wife, you will probably feel on the outside in a similar manner but there may be a difference. In the couples therapy arena when you are not as fluent you are likely to be judged and seen as inferior, ignorant, even as cold and uncaring. The truth is that many therapists think that men should be fluent in the language of feelings and tend to judge them for their apparent deficiency. They believe that men, if only they wanted to, could easily learn this feeling language and would then want to talk about their emotions. Simple right? “Just try a little harder honey, it’s not so hard if you will just try.” What these therapists don’t seem to know is that men’s biology is working against them. Their brains are more geared towards building and understanding systems and are not as interested in the emotional side of things. There is some evidence now that testosterone actually limits a man’s ability to articulate emotions even when in the midst of feeling them. Men have a very different way to process emotions but this difference is rarely acknowledged in couples therapy and men’s unique ways are often interpreted as being deficiencies or are simply ignored.
Another aspect to the language problem is that it likely creates a bond between your wife and the therapist and just as you depended on her translations at the French restaurant you now depend on her. The difference is that in a couples therapy scenario, she may be antagonistic towards you since your interests are now in conflict. The likelihood of getting a good translation goes down as you must depend on her emotional maturity and only a truly mature woman will be considering your needs at a time like this. I have seen women use their fluency in the language of emotions as a tool to prove her side and to show the man as being the problem.
Another difference is in the details. Have you ever noticed that women seem to remember in great detail relationship events from years ago? You know, the time you insulted her by saying she was fat in 2007. She remembers. You don’t. Why is it when you are in a session with a couples therapist, she can rattle off a long series of your indiscretions over the past several years? All the while you are struggling to remember the events she is describing much less coming up with your own examples. This sort of memory gives women a distinct advantage in couples counseling since they have a much better grasp on details of problems and disagreements from the past. She often keeps a scorecard. You usually don’t. Her barrage of memories and your silence make it appear that you have no case.
We don’t know why women remember and men don’t. Maybe it’s that men seem to treat their relationship problems and upsets like fishing. When they catch a fish that is too small they simply throw it back in, forget about it, and focus on catching the next one. Most men don’t keep score and catalogue the small everyday relationship deficiencies. Could it be that men see small indiscretions in relationships as being like the small fish and let them go by just throwing them back in rather then hold on to them and file them into a growing pile of hurts and resentments? Could it be that men are simply forgiving and letting the small stuff go? Perhaps when it comes time for couples therapy the men don’t have a huge stockpile of past hurts since they have already let them go while his female partner has a bucket of old hurts which seem geared to prove he is an uncaring sort? You be the judge. YMMV.
Avoiding Men’s Emotional Pain
Also at work are misandrist attitudes that are held by almost everyone in the US culture that have an impact on men in couples treatment. These attitudes are led by the idea that a man’s emotional pain is basically taboo. No one wants to touch a man’s pain, no one wants to hear a man’s pain, no one knows what to do with a man’s pain. Men are aware of this distaste for his emotional pain and avoid publicly emoting. No brainer. Men are simply not dumb enough to emote publicly, they know the judgement they would face. Contrast this with the norm for female emotional pain which rather than being taboo is more a call to action. When people see a tearful women in public the first thing that comes to their mind is “How can I help? Oh, poor thing, she needs support.” When they see a tearful man they will often see him as someone dangerous who needs to be avoided. These vastly different responses to men and women’s emotional pain has an impact on couples treatment. I have noticed that at least some therapists carry a portion of this bias. Those who do carry it seem unaware. It is obvious that if this bias is present in therapy the man’s emotional pain is going to get little attention while the women’s emotional pain will likely be the focus of treatment. Add on to that many couples therapists are female and this will give the female therapist a much better understanding of what it is like to grow up as a girl and be a woman but leaves her devoid of the same understandings about men and boys. She will be more likely to compare him to the female norm she has in her minds eye. This sort of thing can leave the man terribly misunderstood. I have known men who had huge stressors like recent major surgery, the loss of a job, and the death of a parent all having happened in the previous month and the therapist decides not to focus on his pain but instead focus on the wife’s emotional pain from something much less significant and question why he hasn’t been more attentive to her needs. This simply disenfranchises his reality and reinforces the therapist’s and the wife’s avoidance of the man’s pain. My experience has been that when the men’s emotional pain is avoided in therapy the men are left feeling even more bewildered and alone.
There is yet another important and related factor involved in the bias we see in couples therapy. It has to do with sex roles. Women’s sex roles have been changing over the last 40-50 years but men’s? Not so much. The traditional male sex role calls for him to provide and protect. Specifically, it calls him to do those things for his spouse that provide her with the supplies she needs/wants while also offering her a safe place. This idea of a safe place can and does include the idea of being cared for. If a woman does not feel cared for she is likely not going to feel safe so it is rolled into one big package for which the man is responsible. Bring her the provisions she needs to do her job and help her feel safe and cared for. On the other hand, the traditional sex roles of women were to birth, raise, and nurture the children and care for the home. He may get some benefit from this but her focus is not on him, it is on the kids and the home. These roles link the spouses in a very different manner. Her happiness is linked directly to how he performs in his providing and protecting. Does he give her what she wants? Does he give her a safe place? If not, he is open to judgement and criticism from his wife. This is his primary responsibility, to make money to provide and to insure safety. Her needs are his responsibility and his needs and his happiness are not attached in a similar manner. He needs to get the job done first and provide for her. This makes it simple to see the flow of energy in a traditional marriage as being from man to woman, and her flow of energy is from woman to children and/or home. This gives the woman a platform to judge his success or lack of success in providing for her. It gives her reasons to complain about his failures. Her needs are seen as primary. But what about his needs? No one is responsible. His needs are his problem. There is no one mandated to provide and protect for him. No one. It’s easy to see how this plays out in couples therapy. The woman’s needs and satisfaction are a primary element. His needs are much less front and center if they are even dealt with. This being the case it would be easy to see how most couples therapists will have a tendency to focus on HER and not so much on HIM. It would also be more likely that he wouldn’t even think of focusing on HIS needs and wants. He is programmed to care for her needs, not his. Plus, he is graded on how well he performs his providing and protecting for her but she is less likely to receive a grade for her treatment of him. “I can’t do everything, I’ve been taking care of the house and kids.”
To make matters worse the man’s role of provide and protect leaves him with a mandate to maintain his independence. Being dependent or needy is not acceptable. In order to be the best provider and protector he needs to be independent and he will usually struggle to do so. What do we ask of men in therapy and specifically in couples therapy? We ask them to talk about their problems, their vulnerabilities, and their feelings. All of the above are huge signs of dependency and neediness. So we are asking men to do a 180 degree turn and suddenly they are supposed to just magically be comfortable with showing neediness and dependency. The women think this should be easy since their roles are not as demanding of them to be independent. In fact what are the old demands of women’s roles? Nurturing and caring right? So just imagine for a moment putting women into a situation where they had to talk in ways that would show they were not nurturing and caring! Would they have an easy time with that? I don’t think so. We need to have some compassion for our men and the bind they are placed into by coming into couples therapy.
Therapy is Friendly to Women
Therapy has evolved over the years to be friendly to women. Why? Well, it’s pretty simple, women are the ones who come into therapy. Therapists will naturally move towards creating an environment that caters to and welcomes those who are showing up and paying! This is one of the reasons that therapy is based on the more feminine ideas of who is relating to whom and who cares about whom. This is the currency. This is what drives things. In a more masculine environment the currency would more likely be who is governing whom or who is admiring or respecting whom. These are very different spaces. If you are presently in couples counseling it is likely that your wife is attempting to make the point that you simply don’t care about her and she will go through the litany of things you have done that prove you don’t care. Caring is the index. She attempts to convince the therapist that you have committed numerous sins of not caring and now need to change your ways and that her negative behaviors are justified by your indiscretions. This puts you into a defensive position. You spend most of your time defending yourself and trying to rebut her claims about your uncaring behaviors. This is yet another problem for men in couples treatment. They will often find themselves in such a defensive position that they neglect telling their own story, their own needs etc since they are so overwhelmed with just trying to defend themselves.
This sort of imbalanced approach neglects to look at the man’s side of things. He probably isn’t even thinking about voicing his own needs. It is partly his fault for not bringing things up but he is all too often under water in trying to defend himself and feeling out of place in a world that shows little interest in his needs or his feelings. This pattern has been going on for thousands of years and continues to this day, that women voice what they need in relationship whether it is about their own safety or the provisions they feel they require. The men do their best to provide what is requested or protect them if they are in danger. The men are then evaluated on their performance. It’s easy to see how in couples counseling it would be simple to focus on the woman’s complaints and needs and expect the man to step up and meet those needs while at the same time placing his wants and desires a step down. The byproduct of this formula is that men’s emotional pain and needs are marginalized and avoided.
Another problem that often surfaces is that of volume. Women have a very different threshold for determining when someone is yelling. Two men can be actively and politely arguing a point at what seems to them to be reasonable volumes but if that same tone and volume is used with their wives, she often claims he is yelling. This often frustrates the man no end. He simply says, “I am not yelling.” And in his mind this is the objective truth. But remember when entering couples therapy your masculine rules and limits stop being applicable. You have entered a more feminine space. The biggest danger of this dreaded “you are yelling” meme is that it is sometimes used when the man is making a very good point, a point that can’t be easily countered. By claiming he is yelling the focus of the conversation shifts quickly and completely. Now the focus is whether he yelled or not…AND how hurt she is that he was yelling at her. (remember the keyword is “caring”, a caring person wouldn’t yell) Now the focus leaves his point and instead centers on how hurt she is and his responsibility for this. This is a devastating development and leaves the man feeling ambushed, helpless and completely unheard. It also importantly lets her off the hook.
Now let’s change gears and look into what a man can do to improve the chances of couples therapy being helpful to him and his relationship in Part Two.
Tom Golden, LCSW is a psychotherapist in private practice. His office is in Gaithersburg MD. Tom also does consults via the internet and phone. His newest ebook “The Way Men Heal” offers a quick look at the masculine side of healing. You can find him here: [email protected]