Modern women have been raised to believe that we should expect and strive to achieve any accomplishment we set our sights on. From the dedication of past generations, society now embraces female empowerment and progression. We can be mothers and corporate figureheads, able to communicate and connect whilst tallying the books and networking. Finally the many facets of a woman’s personality and skill set are increasingly being given the chance to shine.
Yes it’s not perfect, we still walk a thin tightrope with a glass ceiling just above and the threat of patronising short sightedness below, but we are definitely on our way. So what of the boys? If women are now viewed as equals in the boardroom, a traditionally male environment, is it OK for the lads to sit down with a glass of wine and empty out their emotions?
A woman can ‘have balls’ (a saying I detest) which connotes their ‘ability’ to adopt masculine qualities in order to be successful and forthright. Yet I can’t find a male equivalent. The phrase metro sexual has been bandied about but that feels more like a fashion label than an acceptance of femininity within men. All female characteristics when related to the masculine are derogatory, a perception of weakness. Why aren’t they moving along with us? Is it us, do we still want our men to stick to their stereotype whilst we increasingly break out of ours? Or is it that they are unsure of the new rules now previous gender definitions are increasingly no longer applicable.
I was raised in a home with an old school follower of the ‘keep it in’ male code. Our father was, and still is, the rock of the family. Unfloundering and immoveable, a sturdy foundation for three girls and a wife to build their lives on. We believed it didn’t matter what emotional upheaval occurred in his life as he appeared to carry on regardless. Whilst our house could be a hotbed of histrionics (remember 4 women) he was the calm, the boundary, the constant. Only once have I seen him cry and that was the day of his mother’s funeral. I am ashamed to say that as well as being so sad, it made me profoundly uncomfortable and confused; he was supposed to be the solid one whilst the rest of the world fell apart.
But the truth is equality has to go both ways and big boys should cry. Men need to emote like the rest of us, it’s just that for them, it’s not really aloud. Women have always had the opportunity to emotional connect with others, especially of our own gender. When we lose a loved one, when relationships fail, when it’s a bad day at the office, it’s expected that someone will listen so we can vent and then move on. Those conversations accelerate the healing process and hopefully enable us to keep a level head. However men don’t have this outlet, or at least not publicly, to the world they are expected to go out with the lads, become a commitmentphobe or serial philanderer in order to process their emotional crisis. And that’s how they develop a bad rep because in the next relationship or when the next difficult time comes along that’s when the panic button is pressed. If they felt that it was, as BT would say, good to talk, maybe the whole men are from Mars and women from Venus schtick would disappear, because the truth is we are not that different.
We all get hurt and we all deserve to feel safe and loved. When men leave a relationship they have no fewer hang ups than the woman, and, wait for it, we can hurt them just as deeply as they can us. If we could really communicate with one another, try to understand, then maybe people we could stop second guessing each other. Although maybe scrap everything I’ve said, because if that happened I’d be out of a job.