Aloha everyone. Lately I have been reading a lot about what men do and don’t do. The list is long and seems really inaccurate. I wonder how much these things damage men in general. And it’s making me madder than a wet hen!
Women often complain that men don’t talk about their feelings. Why the hell would they?
They’re discouraged to. If they cry, they’re weak. “Grow a set” or “be a man,” “boys don’t cry” and all that bullshit.
And it IS bullshit.
I come from a country that has one of the highest male youth suicide rates in the world, although slowly that is coming down, but it’s still high. That’s shameful and appalling. We’re known as a tough nation of men AND women.
We’re brought up to be tough, rugged, and durable. There was an ad back in the seventies by New Zealander Colin Meads, an All Black (our international rugby team who are known as warriors and hard to beat.) He used to advertise Tanalised fence posts because back in the day, rugby players volunteered to play for NZ, but they didn’t get paid like a professional sportsman does today. They all had “regular” jobs and a lot of them were “tough” men like farmers and other “manly” things, so advertising things like fence posts was a huge endorsement in a farming country like NZ.
|Colin Meads playing Rugby for NZ|
Colin Meads line that stuck with NZ, was, “they’re tough, rugged, and durable.”
Thank you bloody Colin!
It’s an awful legacy to live by.
One of the first people to get to the top of Everest was New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary, along with Nepalese Tenzing Norgay. Mad bastards! But putting that aside, they were the first people in the world to reach the apex of the highest mountain in the world.
My sister and I often joke that the only reason they got there was because Sir Ed just ignored his feelings like all New Zealand men are taught to do.
“Stop complaining, Tenzing, we’re nearly there. It’s only a wee bit brisk today. Christ, it’s colder than this in New Zealand when that Southerly comes up from Antarctica, man up!” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… Tenzing would have perhaps rolled his eyes if they weren’t glued into a permanent frozen rictus in his face from the cold.
|Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay|
And we expect men to “push on.” To be able to handle all sorts of things we don’t want to handle. Then we complain that our men don’t show their feelings, won’t talk about them and are generally shut off. Why would you want to expose yourself to ridicule? You’d be mad to do that.
Years down the track, another famous NZ All Black “came out.”
In a country that expects its men to be—well—men, this could have been professional suicide. Young boys look up to All Blacks. They’re heroes. Rugby is our national RELIGION for god’s sake! Coming out was a big risk for John Kirwan. Here’s what he had to say about it:
"When I was first asked to do the national health campaign, I was scared," he said. "I was scared people would think I was a freak." –
No, he wasn’t talking about being gay. He was talking about depression…
Thankfully, John Kirwan and other famous Kiwis paved the way for men in NZ to start to express themselves and our suicide rate has taken us out of the top spot with Finland to about #10. Yes, still not great. We have a way to go yet before we’re culturally more sophisticated and show some care toward our men.
This is one of the reasons I can’t live back in my country of birth. I find the Kiwi attitude toward feelings hard to deal with. I’m not interested in men who can’t be whole men through society, conditioning, their own self etc. I want men who feel and express everything.
I think that’s one of the reasons we’re so attracted to the gay community. And reading about m/m romance. Men who express their feelings and are real people. Whole men, gentle men, tough men, but all men who are emotionally there. We get let into a “secret” world of things we’re not usually exposed to with men—feelings and emotions we crave.
Some of what I’m writing about today is spurred by a discussion I was involved in last night on an intersex person and her recent troubles. The remarks that people made were just awful. I can’t believe the things people think sometimes. They saw her as a man, even though she was female. But again, the “be a man” thing came up.
|Thanks to Cody Kennedy |
for this brilliant and perfect intersex symbol
And in reviews I keep reading and things people mention regarding something in a book, there are a lot of “rules” regarding what men can and can’t do.
“Men don’t giggle.”
Actually, men do giggle. Pacific Island men are gigglers. They’re gorgeous. My late husband was Maori and he giggled. He also laughed but he did not chuckle. I was talking to Phetra Novak, another author about this and some things are cultural. Men in her country of Sweden don’t giggle, they chuckle. Men in my country, giggle and laugh.
My dad will say, “It was a bit of a giggle.”
One of my favorite memories of my late husband Aaron—drunk as a skunk, giggling his heart out as I’m trying to get him into bed.
|Billy T James, a NZ Maori comedian who was known for his "Maori giggle."|
“Insta-love is not real.”
I can’t understand where this one comes from. It only seems to apply to the gay community and m/m stories.
If you’re hetero and have “love at first sight” with someone, that’s acceptable. It’s even seen as an incredible love story. But if you’re gay, it’s called “insta-love” and it’s bullshit, tawdry, cheap, and “silly.” Excuse me! How the hell does that work?
Love at first sight DOES happen to every gender. It’s happened to me. But it’s “frowned” upon by others outside the gay community or in book reviews. It’s another thing that is dumped on the gay community and is just ridiculously sexist and arrogant. I’m so sick of this attitude toward men.
“Men don’t use sweet names all the time, that’s just ridiculous in adults.”
I actually had someone say this in a review or words to this effect, a few years back. All the men I go out with do use sweet names, all the time. Also, if you’re in New Orleans, expect someone just walking down the street to say, “Hey, baby.” My kind of place! Again, this is probably cultural or also seems to relate to people who don’t allow themselves to be feel and be real. Just because you’re shutoff, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world is.
“Men don’t like cats.”
Really? I only go out with men that like cats. Men that don’t like cats are persona non grata for me. Seriously. There are very distinct personality differences between cat and dog lovers. Morgan Freeman is a cat lover—enough said.
What all this is about, is that we don’t allow men to be humans. We want them to be superheroes who don’t worry about their weight, their hair, their intense fear of spiders, or the shitty remark from Joe Blogg at the office. We don’t allow them to feel, be hurt, fall in love madly, badly and gladly. We want them to be tough and “be a man” “handle things” but then complain that they don’t open up and tell us their feelings.
Pick one. You can’t have both.
What I notice about the gay men I know who are in long term relationships is this. They all seem to really love their partners or husbands. They like them and think they’re wonderful. I often wonder why their relationships seem happier and more content than hetero relationships.
Some of the things I hear often are: I can be myself. I can tell him everything. He never judges me. He gets how I feel.
There’s a lot to be said for that.