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Myth that men suppress their feelings more than women

(35 Posts)
Ava6 Wed 08-Nov-17 07:21:18

This is utter BS. Men are only taught to suppress UNSELFISH feelings such as sympathy. The entire world caters to their absolute worst selfish emotions. Women are coerced into building their whole lives around mens' insecurity, dominance fantasies, fear of rejection, violent outbursts, sexual "needs", jealousy. All those are emotions that men get free reign on.

I'm undergoing ASD assessment and I took an empathy test. Guess what: the average NT man tests only slightly below the average woman (42 to 37). My result is typical for an ASD woman: 23. It's leagues below the vast majority of men and yet I still exercise an awful lot more empathy in my daily life than them. Which means that they are TAUGHT to keep a lid on all that sympathy towards women.

It's human females that are truly emotionally suppressed by the patriarchy. They are supposed to repress their anger, fear and resentment towards men and sense of degradation just to function in society everyday. They are taught to mistrust their instincts, sexuality, holistic unity with their body. They are expected to reign in their ambition, independence, dominance, creative drive, intelligence, dislike of children (for those that have it), need for orgasms and masturbation. They are gaslit when they figure out their oppression and PTSD from certain elements of it. They are supposed to keep quiet when suffering from pain due to their reproductive system and channel their spirituality into male-worshipping religions. Lately they are supposed to erase their whole existence to accomodate the genderfeelz of dudes.

I struggled with severe anxiety and derealisation (with painful physical effects) for close to a decade due to porn culture-induced body anxiety and worry about not performing femininity well enough . In large part, becoming a radfem and resolving not to give a hoot about those things has reunited me with my own body - and the disassociation disappeared overnight, as if waived away by a magic wand. The general anxiety's been greatly reduced too - because I don't repress my feminist feelings anymore. And males have the gall to say they're emotionally suppressed by society???

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Wed 08-Nov-17 07:26:13

Really good points, thank you.

thecatfromjapan Wed 08-Nov-17 07:31:07

I want to give you smile emoticon for such a great insight and for the fact that such an insight is healing - and I genuinely think it is: insights such as that are a big step on the way to mental health and a fuller life, I reckon.

But a smile emoticon is hardly the right response, is it? Smile + rage, perhaps? Because anger - which women have to suppress, a lot - is also a really important step towards mental health and a fuller life, too.

Good post. Wishing you personal joy and also thanks for sharing - it helps others.

SweetGrapes Wed 08-Nov-17 07:39:16

Great post! Agree with every word! I am getting free-er and angrier and 'don't give a damn'er as I get older. smile
Meet me when I am 80 - I shall be one kickass grandma - zimmer frame and all. Granny from the ice age is my goal. Just looking to befriend a whale and Booyaah!!!! to the patriarchy!

GuardianLions Wed 08-Nov-17 07:39:18

That is a BRILLIANT post!!!!!

QuentinSummers Wed 08-Nov-17 07:48:20

grin love it! Needed that today, thank you flowers cake

claraschu Wed 08-Nov-17 07:58:33

I am not disagreeing with you, but:

I think that lots of men have trouble expressing grief, disappointment, feelings of rejection. I know that one of my sons had a very hard time talking about how upset he was at being bullied, at not achieving the results he wanted, etc. Lots of men don't have friends they confide in about problems they face, and are more likely to talk about football than to discuss their fears for their marriage or their kids.

I worry about my young sons bottling up their feelings, being unable to confide in friends, unable to express grief.

beingsunny Wed 08-Nov-17 08:15:10

If this is true, don’t we feel pity that men are taught not to express themselves?
That kind of social conditioning is quite damaging and I imagine that repressing emotions make them far more sufferable.

thecatfromjapan Wed 08-Nov-17 08:50:16

The thing is, we're told about men suppressing this, that and the other - and I have a son, and I sympathise, and I work on the assumption he needs emotional help, and I put the work in to help (which is an issue in and of itself).

What is less spoken about is what alba has spoken about:

- the nature of the suppressed emotions of men
- the fact that women are suppressing a hell of a lot of emotions and knowledge - mainly about fear and anger - and the cost of doing a lot of emotional work for men
- the implicit power relations in all this talk about suppressed emotions: men's suppressed emotions matter, women's suppressed emotions don't
- the how and where of emotions being suppressed: alba points out that men can be fairly self-aware of the emotions they are publicly suppressing: women, on the other hand, suppress a lot of emotions (anger, fear) even to themselves. Utterly, massively damaging.

<--- That's not all that alba's post has touched on, by the way. It's a really interesting post.

thecatfromjapan Wed 08-Nov-17 08:54:58

... and, of course, I haven't touched on the fact that ava has suggested we think carefully about what we mean when we say men suppress their emotions. Where? When? To whom? For what? Which emotions?

And the whole thing about "men suppress their emotions more than women" ... the importance of that word "more" cannot be emphasised enough.

I totally dispute that.

And, lastly, there are a whole load of "male emotions" - which are currently prevalent or even legitimised - that could really, really do with "suppression".

GuardianLions Wed 08-Nov-17 11:38:52

I would add to this magnificent OP that it is a myth that women are allowed to express feelings of grief, disappointment, sadness, disappointment too..

When I show a whiff of despair people run from me like rats from a sinking ship. I deal with my problems on my own because I know they make other people feel uncomfortable, as though they are scared they are going to catch them or something. No one gives a flying fuck if women are 'bottling up' grief - it just seems more tragic and poetic to think of our males as wounded soldiers, battling through another day... My mother is a classic example of this sexism.. "Oh the POOR boy!..... "Oh HOW AWful!"... Whereas I am seen as a trouble-maker or attention-seeking if I reveal any emotional damage.

DJBaggySmalls Wed 08-Nov-17 11:50:19

Ava6 brilliant, insightful post. Would you consider writing it up as a blog so we can link to it and share it?

GuardianLions thats a very good point, in the USA grief is medicalised and there was a discussion some years ago about thaat becoming a trend over here. The example given was a woman who had been on diazepam and anti depressants for a decade since her husbands funeral. So she hadnt dealt with her grief and she felt she had lost a decade of her life.

Mooncuplanding Wed 08-Nov-17 14:51:34

My theory on why women are more empathetic is simple - survival from male violence!

We have to from a very early age second guess the reactions of males in our lives (starts with fathers for most). "If I say this will he go mental?"

And this continues and embeds even more as life goes on, as adult females our only form of defence against male violence is that we can use empathy to get us out of a 'sticky' situation. So we better have our empathy skills tip top - it is our protection.

It is the classic 'walking on eggshells' comment that you hear from females in abusive relationships. They are constantly having to empathise with their abuser to prevent their death, sometimes to the point that they don't even know what they themselves think about anything, such is their empathy for the situation.

Men simply don't have to do this.

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 08-Nov-17 15:49:53

I'm reminded of Wilds Swans. It was about women under the Chinese systems for three generations. She wrote about how people under Mao had to think two (at least) opposing things at the same time and believe them. In that case, "Mao is wonderful and everything is great" and "I must be careful because this system is oppressive and horrible and I'm in danger".

Your post reminded me of it because of the contortions women have to twist themselves into. NAMALT but always protect yourself and suppress your feelings of danger while being cute and sweet. Don't be needy while simultaneously making men feel needed. Don't actually 'need' anything though.

thebewilderness Wed 08-Nov-17 16:27:57

This is a very important insight and I thank you for it. I wish you continued healing from the conditioning you have suffered from.

SmartPhoneNovice Wed 08-Nov-17 17:09:46

Brilliant OP.

Mooncup as adult females our only form of defence against male violence is that we can use empathy to get us out of a 'sticky' situation.

This reminds me of taking the online version of the "Mind In The Eyes" empathy test designed by Simon Baron-Cohen-Wanker (not sure if it was something like this OP took?) Test involves looking at pictures of eyes and identifying the emotion displayed.

I scored extremely highly, but one of my two "wrong" answers made me think. The "correct" answer was that the man in the picture was showing hostility. I had read him as showing fear. But surely hostility always results from some kind of fear? So I'm more empathetic than they allowed for, as I was identifying the inner emotion, not the surface expression! And crucially, as a woman I need to do that because my only way of disarming a hostile man is to allay his fears somehow.

(This also relates to the issues around recognising autism in women...)

The myths around men supressing their emotions bother me when the subject of male suicide comes up. The implication that somehow women have got their emotional needs met and somehow it's the poor men we must listen do, even if we spend every damn day doing that already. So looking at the points thecatfromjapan raised is interesting... (I'm confused, where is alba's post, did you mean ava?)

thecatfromjapan Wed 08-Nov-17 17:24:04

Smart Yes, I did mean ava. For some reason I turned her into an alba . Sorry.

OlennasWimple Wed 08-Nov-17 17:26:54

There's some really interesting stuff on this thread, thank you

<off to ponder>

LittleWingSoul Wed 08-Nov-17 19:57:57

Awesome post OP. Immediately wanted to share it.

AskBasil Wed 08-Nov-17 21:11:52

This is so interesting, thanks for posting, lots to think about.

LRDtheFeministDragon Wed 08-Nov-17 22:16:46

I agree so much with this.

Such nonsense men don't get to express grief or disappointment or rejection. IME, men express these things all the time. Women squash them down. 'Man's unspoken grief' is the theme of a dozen 'woman saves sad man through love' romances. Men who are rejected are praised for making a public statement of it. See this article, which sums it all up:

IrenetheQuaint Wed 08-Nov-17 22:55:40

"'Man's unspoken grief' is the theme of a dozen 'woman saves sad man through love' romances."

SO TRUE. At one point I started making a list of all the books, films etc whose theme is 'troubled middle-aged man saved by adoring younger woman'. They are legion, and even worse there are a lot of real-life troubled middle-aged men who feel they are somehow owed the adoration of a younger woman.

Also, men get kudos for being honest about their complex emotions (such a brave thing for a man to do!) whereas women's complex emotions are generally dismissed for being the Wrong Sort of Emotions.

StVincent Wed 08-Nov-17 23:14:56

Yes in fact such is women and girls' suppression of our feelings that I've literally had to break it to adult men that women also get unrequited feelings for men, suffer through it as teenagers, cope with it as adults. Not joking, they literally think it's just them. Because we're not constantly banging on about men owing us sex if we fancy them, and building whole albums and films and comedy shows around it. (in fact the only show I can think of like that was Green Wing...)

Ava6 Fri 10-Nov-17 13:28:22

Thanks for all the praise and support! I was thinking of submitting this to Feminist Current as an example of my writing.

As for not expressing grief and disappointment, men get taught to suppress emotional intelligence partly BECAUSE they don't need it in a world that is designed for them and in which they don't need to survive the violence of the other sex. It's a luxury they get, even if it backfires on them sometimes.

For example, the Fight or Flight response is actually Flight or Befriend in women. Fight is the last resort and women are too often taught to suppress it. I personally was in a perilous situation once in which I kept talking and smiling sweetly just to get a man out of my house without him detecting my fear. It was the Befriend instinct kicking in and it's incredible that it still works even in autistic women with all our social trouble. I suppose it could be because I'm uncommonly emotionally attuned for an Aspie woman - I actually do better on those eye emotion tests than the average NT.

DeleteOrDecay Fri 10-Nov-17 14:14:19

Excellent post op, very well said.

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