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March 02, 2006

Comments

Paul

Hugo I really think you need to read up on some evolutionary psychology and sexual evolution, hell take a human physiology course, you don’t have to agree with it, but you should be informed. If this is already the case, maybe you should give it more credit by making note of this fact. Most everything you write is ideologically driven, which placed next to scientific rigor makes what you write look like fluff—no really.

Again, I don’t know much about the aforementioned subjects; but for what little I do, using my noodle I can arrive at non- ideologically driven assumptions that call first for a value judgment, the type of value judgments you fly past all the time. For intense, why do women seem to communicate intimately amongst themselves generally better then men? My first thought leads me to think of nurturing and how women tend to be better at it then men ;-). They are in constant intimate talk not only with their spouse (hopefully), but in the whole process of raising their children while the father is at work all day. Historically, may I venture to postulate a dominant trend? Men all day at work seem to communicate in a different manner based strictly on their needs, i.e. efficient production, hunting, and gathering. What are some I’ll effects of both? Men aren’t as intimate with each other as women tend? Women become over zealous in intimacy, leading to gossip and the likes of projecting their behavior on how others should behave (think nurturing).

“This is how men are, this is how they should be” is your methods of operation. I think there’s a value judgment that needs to be made before reaching a conclusion. In this there might actually be an interesting discussion.

John

I agree with Hugo that men need the space (physical/emotional/social) to engage emotionally with other men. Most of my intimate friends are women. I am a verbal guy who prefers to talk about relationships and emotions, and it's difficult to find men in our society who want to speak on the same level.

I think that it's also important to remember that the "men and apologies" post was Hugo's response to a critique of liberal men who entered into dialogue with (female) feminists. While it is critical for women and men to work together to correct gender inequity, it's also important to realize that there are issues concerning gender roles and stereotypes specific to women that are best discussed between women (and vise versa). Women have done a great job of creating woman-only havens in which they can safely share experiences and work out these concerns.

I think that men need to follow their example and create similar single-gender spaces. Perhaps in these forums we could puzzle out issues specific to men in our society: Why am I supposed to like team sports? Why was my relationship with my father the way it was and how can I keep from repeating the same problems with my son? Why can't I cry very well? When am I objectifying a woman and when am I engaging in healthy appreciation of a woman's sexuality? You could ask these questions in mixed and in men-only groups and I think that you would get different insights in each. For now, at least for me, the insights from the male-only groups are inaccessible.

badteeth

---"When these guys are in crisis, they rarely turn to each other first. Instead, they either clam up or altogether, or, as commonly, turn to a woman: a mother, a sister, a wife, a female friend. Because they are so anxious about being judged by other men, they only feel comfortable showing emotion to women."


I don't know Hugo, the last "emotional crisis" I had was about a year ago when I was out of work for a month. Before that the last one was probably two or three years before that with the death of a friend's infant son. My last ex-girlfriend had an emotional crisis about once per day and my current girlfriend has about one per week. Hormones might have something to do with the discrepancy.

Now I'm not speaking for all men, but really, how often do men have emotions that actually need to be talked about compared to women?

sophonisba

Hormones might have something to do with the discrepancy.

Yes, that's far more likely than the possibility that the women you're attracted to have personality traits in common.

how often do men have emotions that actually need to be talked about compared to women?

How often do men have movies that need to be seen, or books that need to be read, or sex that needs to be had?

Personal conversation, like almost every other human act, is done for a number of cultural and social reasons; it's not done on a pure need-basis, like excretion and respiration, by normal, mentally healthy people.

Yes, I am accusing men of being normal and mentally healthy. Sorry.

Hugo

Thanks, Sophonisba. Paul, you're becoming rather a one-trick pony on the subject. Dude, I took Physical Anthropology at Cal from Vincent Sarich, one of the pioneers of the whole socio-biology thing. I've read the Selfish Gene, the Natural History of Rape and all the other socio-biology stuff.

I'm tired of having biology used to cover up and excuse a whole host of things. If you read the history of American men, you see that until the mid 19thcentury, close and intimate friendships between men were the norm. Ever read Lincoln's letters to his friend Joshua Speed?

An appeal to the supreme power of hormones and Y chromosomes are the first refuge of those who are frightened of the possibility of genuine transformation for the better.

Paul

I love you man!

I love Lincoln too, personally my favorite president. I hear he was a homosexual--now.

"...one-trick pony on the subject" hey that was my point about you first.

where have i used biology as a excuse? it should be used in conjunction with some of your types of thoughts. the theories seem at least equally valid, no? many times biology trumps socialization, else why hormone replacement and psychotropics? mind over matter is cliche!

Uzzah

Just curious..

What do you think contributed to the decline of Homosocial behavior in men since the mid 19th century?

Surely this is a complex problem with lots of answers, but what in your opinion has driven men to avoid this sort of socializaton you mention?


The Gonzman

An appeal to the supreme power of hormones and Y chromosomes are the first refuge of those who are frightened of the possibility of genuine transformation for the better.

Which immediately begs the question "Is it better?"

I have plenty of male friends, Hugo. We fight together, we fish, hunt, and do all manner of things together. If I were in a bind, I could call any of a number of them up and say, "I'm in a pickle and need some help" and I would have literally truckloads of them pull up - I know, because that's what happened a few years back when a tornado took my cabin out. If one of them called me, I'd be, "Hey - I'm there for you, brother."

We compete furiously. We enagage in banter, drink together, and are equally as capable of spending hours working together on a atsk without saying nary a word but what is necessary for the task at hand: In short, stereotypical male behavior. No huggy, touchy-feely, weepy over-emotionalism. We don't engage in sob fests, and make "circles of support" or any other new-agey nonsense; when necessary we give each other a kick in the ass, though, and get to work making things better.

I like it that way. We all do, it was has caused us to drift together as friends, no mater how distant we are geographically.

And contrary to your predictor, we don't "dump on women." Those of us who are married or attached tend to be very scrupulous about not burdening wives and girlfriends with problems which will only cause them worry, which they can do nothing to solve or help solve, and those wives and girlfriends have all expressed admiration and the value they place on such quiet strength and competance, and the loyalty we as friends share with each other. We trust each other implicitly, and oft times we have done so with our livlihoods and indeed our very lives.

Those things which might be fears, which give me sleepless nights, or which cause me to weep - those are intensely private things, Hugo, and only God truly understands them, and that's where I - we - keep them, unless there is some concrete aid that can be asked for and given. I know my friends are as close to me, or closer, and love me like I was a blood brother, and we don't require constant commiseration and re-assurance of it. It has been expressed around fires, in the circles, and in oaths of brotherhood, and until someone says that this has changed somehow, it is taken as given, and need not be spoken of again in insecurity, and out of need for re-assurance, and doubt between brothers.

This is confidence, and trust, and real friendshiip, and it need not be tinkered with, as it not only serves, but serves well, and is more dependable among us than the sun rising in the morning. Stoic? Yes - but what is wrong with that?

It might sound very pagan, and right now it'd take far too long to explain in full, so I won't attempt even in part, but what can be added to this, that we would value, which makes your way better? If it works for you, that is fine, by all means go your own way; but we know of brotherhood, and we all know our sons, and daughters, and fathers.

Why should we change, because you cannot understand our way?

Paul

I think your own socialization has blinded you, Hugo. Ironic huh!

Thanks Gonz for expounding on the points I would like to make but surely lack in eloquence or simply cannot express in writing.

Hugo

Perhaps y'all can form a support group for men who are united in their conviction that Hugo Schwyzer doesn't really get it! ;-)

isabella mori

hugo, you're absolutely right, it would be great if men talked more among themselves. and i don't mean 3-sentence, 4 words-per-sentence type of conversations. and why would it be great? oh, i dunno, maybe a few less wars on the planet or something ...

i guess my original comments stemmed mostly from a discomfort with both the stereotype of the woman as the forever-suffering listening ear, and the idea that emotional conversations are burdensome.

the comment on sociocultural context of conversations/communications is useful, too. i am from germany originally where everyone, men included, talks much more with each other, and conversations are a form of entertainment. on the other hand, i am also somewhat acquainted with the japanese culture (both that of current japanese and of japanese immigrants from up to four generations ago). there, i have not noticed conversations as a social currency at all.

paul, you're ill-informed on the matter of biology and gender issues. there's so many holes in the biological argument, and especially in yours, it's like a fishnet stocking. you could broaden your horizon a little bit. an nice little intro to philosophy of science might make you a more sophisticated conversation partner.

ooops. i'm sounding condescending. is that ok? i mean, seeing that i'm a woman? :)

oh, then we have the age-old thing about women being more emotional than men. well. partly it may be hormones - but my guess is that it has more to do with the fact that women tend to be more sophisticated when it comes to emotions than many men. for whatever reason - much of it, i assume, for "nurture" and not "nature" reasons (again, my experience with different cultures leads me to believe that).

many women, western women at least, are emotional conoisseurs. they can tell the bouquet of a red rage from the aroma of white bliss. and in my opinion - the more educated one's palate, the more fun there is in life. and the more tolerance. which brings us back to the beginning of my comment. the more emotionally sophisticated we are, the better the world is off.


The Gonzman

Well, Hugo, what you don't get is that what is fine for Hugo is fine for Hugo. It'd drive some of us barking mad, though.

Now...

hugo, you're absolutely right, it would be great if men talked more among themselves. and i don't mean 3-sentence, 4 words-per-sentence type of conversations. and why would it be great? oh, i dunno, maybe a few less wars on the planet or something ...

There's an old saying, Isabella, that the reason a dog has so many friends is because he wags his tail instead of his tongue. Most conflicts I have observed arise from people flappin their mouths too bloody much and not knowing when to leave well enough alone and STFU.

i guess my original comments stemmed mostly from a discomfort with both the stereotype of the woman as the forever-suffering listening ear, and the idea that emotional conversations are burdensome.

Or maybe, as a woman, you enjoy such things...

oh, then we have the age-old thing about women being more emotional than men. well. partly it may be hormones - but my guess is that it has more to do with the fact that women tend to be more sophisticated when it comes to emotions than many men. for whatever reason - much of it, i assume, for "nurture" and not "nature" reasons (again, my experience with different cultures leads me to believe that).

Ah, sophistication. Or maybe confident men don't need constant external re-assurance and validation that they're "OK." Probably a function of "privilege," I'm sure.

I suppose it depends on how you spin it. I have friends who would give their life's blood for me, or their last dollar. If that's doing badly, pray enlighten me.

many women, western women at least, are emotional conoisseurs. they can tell the bouquet of a red rage from the aroma of white bliss. and in my opinion - the more educated one's palate, the more fun there is in life. and the more tolerance. which brings us back to the beginning of my comment. the more emotionally sophisticated we are, the better the world is off.

I guess us poor, benighted, pagan, backwoods, backwards, redneck men from flyover country are just too uncivilized to do things like stab our friends in the back.

I've stood against a wild boar with nothing in my hands but a spear, and nothing between myself and the grave but his blood; I held my son as he drew his first breath, and held a friend in my arms as he drew his last. I've kown the bliss of fresh love, and looked into the abyss of black despair in my own mind; I've heard the spirits of my ancestors whispering in the night breeze, and I've stood in the valley and heard the voice of God roar across the sky in the thunder. Emotional Conoisseur? The words of GK Chesterson - whom our good host knows well - are on my menu:

Know you what earth shall lose to-night, what rich uncounted loans,
What heavy gold of tales untold you bury with my bones?
My loves in deep dim meadows, my ships that rode at ease,
Ruffling the purple plumage of strange and secret seas.
To see this fair earth as it is to me alone was given,
The blow that breaks my brow to-night shall break the dome of heaven.
The skies I saw, the trees I saw after no eyes shall see,
To-night I die the death of God; the stars shall die with me;
One sound shall sunder all the spears and break the trumpet's breath:
You never laughed in all your life as I shall laugh in death.
(The Last Hero - 1901)

You may like your emotional fare served subtle and refined, with a delicate taste; As for me, I like mine hale and hearty, in man-sized portions, served bloody rare and with plenty of hot sauce. Sup as you like, but I will not pass this veil with the words, "If only I had..." upon MY lips.

mythago

For intense, why do women seem to communicate intimately amongst themselves generally better then men?

Because they don't have to worry that other women will decide they're lesbos and shun then, or worse.

Hugo, while I mostly agree with you, I cringe at the don't-panic-boys! reminder that these are nonsexual friendships. How hard would it be to stop policing each other for signs of faggotry?

Hugo

Mythago, I agree completely. My error in allowing that to creep into my tone.

The Gonzman

Proper boundaries, among them the sexual one, is something that most the men I know value. Failure to establish that will result in the message being unheard among the men I know - which, judging by election trends, amounts to most men.

But by all means, Myth, if ya'll are content to preach to the choir in an echo chamber, be my guest. I doubt such a message will gain much traction anyway regardless of how it is presented, but far be it from me to tell anyone that they're pointing the gun at their foot.

isabella mori

hey paul -

i'm wondering: are you being defensive or are you just having fun debating this?

be that as it may ...

"Most conflicts I have observed arise from people flappin their mouths too bloody much and not knowing when to leave well enough alone and STFU."

it seems to me that conflicts arise for several reasons. a lack of STFU is one of them, not talking enough is another. this, too, is something that one could be sophisticated about .. :)

" ... maybe confident men don't need constant external re-assurance and validation that they're "OK." Probably a function of "privilege," I'm sure."

again, the need for that type of reassurance seems to be quite liberally sprinkled across the sexes (and ages and classes etc. etc.) i know many men who are quite amazingly anxious to have certain attributes (their sexuality, for example) reassured at least a few times a day.

"I have friends who would give their life's blood for me, or their last dollar. If that's doing badly, pray enlighten me."

and

"I guess us poor, benighted, pagan, backwoods, backwards, redneck men from flyover country are just too uncivilized to do things like stab our friends in the back."

huh? where'd that come from? have we changed topics? are we talking about football again?

"I've stood against a wild boar with nothing in my hands but a spear, and nothing between myself and the grave but his blood; I held my son as he drew his first breath, and held a friend in my arms as he drew his last. I've kown the bliss of fresh love, and looked into the abyss of black despair in my own mind; I've heard the spirits of my ancestors whispering in the night breeze, and I've stood in the valley and heard the voice of God roar across the sky in the thunder. Emotional Conoisseur?"

paul, i don't think anyone suggested that men, or you in particular, are not capable of feeling deeply. what is at issue is the communication of feelings and in particular, the communication of uncomfortable feelings. and i would say that it is pretty well accepted that not sharing uncomfortable feelings at all puts one at risk of decreased emotional well-being, which can easily turn into aggression.

(and before you jump on me on this one: yes, i know there's research that shows if there is too much talk about emotions, especially too much "emo" talk that is unbalanced by other activities, we can again see a tendency towards decreased emotional well-being).

thanks for the chesterton poem. i have a real soft spot for him.

isabella


sophonisba

As a general note: Hormones and hormonal fluctuations, like emotions, are common to all human beings of all sexes. They are not, like vaginas, things that only one sex has, or, like sophistication, something that only one sex is supposed to admit to having. You wouldn't know it to read some comments here, but nevertheless it is true. Science will back me up on this.

As a second general note: "Emotions" is not an exclusive term denoting "things that make you cry," nor even "things your girlfriend has that are irritating." Every time you're proud, every time you're happy, every time you're bored, and every time you want something, you are experiencing an emotion. True fact!

I've stood against a wild boar with nothing in my hands but a spear, and nothing between myself and the grave but his blood; I held my son as he drew his first breath, and held a friend in my arms as he drew his last.

Not that you need to stop beating your chest and foaming at the mouth about your manliness, Gonzman, but maybe your emotional outbursts would be less, um, fraught? Embarrassing for the rest of us to scroll through? if you were more willing to share your feelings with someone other than God and blog comment threads.

PS - Chesterton had a keen sense of the ridiculous, which makes up for an astonishing number of his faults. It's a good thing to have, when you're writing for a public audience.

mythago

I doubt such a message will gain much traction anyway

I doubt it will either, as long as "y'all" like to paint irrational homophobia as 'proper boundaries' and waste energy on being loudly heterosexual.

Wookie

I love the use of stereotypes going on here, I have to agree with all of Gonzo's first post, plus add to that, the fact that MEN DO TALK.

My circle of male friends have always talked about the problems that we may be having, it may be done in a different way to how women discuss their problems, but the problems are discussed.

The problem stems for seeing the female way of expressing emotions as the right way to do things.

Most the guys I have worked with through youth work and my male friends talk when they need too, it is usally in a one to one situration and usally not in a public enviroment.

So Women do not tend to see it, which leads to this myth that men don't talk, or are not intouch with their emotions.

Could it be that men are the one's that are in touch with their emotions and know how to control them better, and women are just emotionally incontinent. (I don't belive this, it's the flip side to the stereotype that is being thrown around here)

The problems a lot of men face about going to see proffesionals about emotional problems is that these services are framed from a female prespective or how to deal with emotional problems, a lot of talking and not much action.

I support Hugo's idea of more men only spaces, but they do not need to framed from a feminist prespective or any prespective, they should be just spaces for men to be with other men and to express themselves as they wish. The problem with this is that some feminists will want to shut these mens only spaces down.

Men do talk and do feel but express differently, why is this so hard for feminists to understand?

badteeth

---"As a general note: Hormones and hormonal fluctuations, like emotions, are common to all human beings of all sexes. They are not, like vaginas, things that only one sex has, or, like sophistication, something that only one sex is supposed to admit to having. You wouldn't know it to read some comments here, but nevertheless it is true. Science will back me up on this."

But which hormones and in which doses? I know men have alot more testosterone and alot less estrogen than women. I'm pretty sure science will back me up on that too. There are biological differences between men and women. Really.

---"As a second general note: "Emotions" is not an exclusive term denoting "things that make you cry," nor even "things your girlfriend has that are irritating." Every time you're proud, every time you're happy, every time you're bored, and every time you want something, you are experiencing an emotion. True fact!"

Well in that case guys already do talk about that stuff..

Proud --- Hey I bowled a 230 last Thursday!

Happy --- Man, I am so glad Duke got beat by Florida State.

Bored --- No two ways about it, Olympic curling sucks.

Wanting something --- Lets go to Hooters. I love their wings.

So, see we already can communicate about our emotions, problem solved. We're already living in utopia and we didn't even realize it.

The Gonzman

hey paul -

Not paul. I answer to "Gonz," "Gonzo," or "Pete" if we are to use Christian names

it seems to me that conflicts arise for several reasons. a lack of STFU is one of them, not talking enough is another. this, too, is something that one could be sophisticated about .. :)

Sophiticated seems to be a buzzword you like to use.

so·phis·ti·cate: 1. To cause to become less natural, especially to make less naive and more worldly. 2. To make impure; adulterate. 3. To make more complex or inclusive; refine. V. intr. To use sophistry. (soph·is·try: 1. Plausible but fallacious argumentation. 2. A plausible but misleading or fallacious argument.)

Don't see where this is necessarily such a good thing. Well, whatever trips your trigger.


again, the need for that type of reassurance seems to be quite liberally sprinkled across the sexes (and ages and classes etc. etc.) i know many men who are quite amazingly anxious to have certain attributes (their sexuality, for example) reassured at least a few times a day.

I'm sure there are; the careful reader will note I spoke of CONFIDENT men.

huh? where'd that come from? have we changed topics? are we talking about football again?

No, my dear, we are speaking of the fallacious insinutaton that such friendships are shallow and less meaningful.

paul, i don't think anyone suggested that men, or you in particular, are not capable of feeling deeply. what is at issue is the communication of feelings and in particular, the communication of uncomfortable feelings. and i would say that it is pretty well accepted that not sharing uncomfortable feelings at all puts one at risk of decreased emotional well-being,Accepted by whom? Pop Psychology? - G. which can easily turn into aggression.

Facts not in evidence, I'm afraid. My crowd is among the most level-headed, peaceful, law abiding folks around.

And you speak of aggression like it is a bad thing.

The Gonzman

Not that you need to stop beating your chest and foaming at the mouth about your manliness, Gonzman,

Heavens, sophinsba, why don't you step out from behind the rhetoric and just call me a neanderthal male who needs to be caught, tagged, and feminized in a re-education camp and be done with it? It's so much more honest.

but maybe your emotional outbursts would be less, um, fraught?

Why ever would I wish that? I'm unafraid of deeply held passion, or of facing the animal that lurks beneath the surfce of us all, even of embracing him and letting him out to play upon occasion. It's not just good for you, it's fun.

Embarrassing for the rest of us to scroll through?

Now you're making me feel sorry for you, and your inability to embrace anything but shallow and filtered feelings. Are you phobic about it? An emotaphobe? Mythago says that being embarassed about someone else's lifestyle is a phobia, and is irrational.

You two should work this out.

if you were more willing to share your feelings with someone other than God and blog comment threads.

"Share your feelings" is such a tired and trite thing. My frend Chuck, for example, knows that I could not love him more if he were blood-kin to me, and knows if he has a need he need but ask. Since he knows this, how has it failed to be shared?

Or is it because it is being done without your way of daily affirmation and emotional stroking that makes you uncomfortable? That your way might not be the only way, or even (Horrors!) necessarily the BEST way in a given instance?

PS - Chesterton had a keen sense of the ridiculous, which makes up for an astonishing number of his faults. It's a good thing to have, when you're writing for a public audience.

I'm sure we hold that sense of the ridiculous in common. I guess it explains why I enjoy him so, and find repartee with liberal intellectual types so entertaining.

Wookie

We are living in societies that are obsessed with talking, that not talking about your problems leaves you emotionally damaged in some way.

When I was seeing a therapist about an anxiety condition I had at the time, we spent weeks and hours TALKING but not achiving much, I have friends I can TALK to, so I changed therpists and started Cognative Behavour Therpy, which is much more about doing, this has worked in half the time the other type of therapy did (Well the other type didn't work at all) So I discussed this with my CBT therapist who said that She felt that some in the therapy community are finally relaizing that sometimes constant discussion of issues with out action just prolongs individuals emotional problems (especially mens), and that repression can sometimes have a postive impact on a person getting on with a healthy life.

Sorry I don't have the studies (so I guess you can dismiss it as hearsay) but she said that they have looked into Holocorst (spelling sorry) survivers and those that just got on with there lifes and didn't talk about what happened all the time, live a more healthy and emotionally problem free lives, but those that spend their time (Good on them) going around doing talks of their experinces etc, tended to have a more difficult time getting over what happened to them, repression served the purpose to allow these individuals get on with living.

I guess what i am trying to say is that sometimes we put too much empasis on talking and not on practical action.

It kind of brings up the other sterotype of male and female communication that when a woman tells a man her problems, she just wants him to listen but he keeps coming up with suggestions and possible solutions, because this is how he works through his problems. But again as it's a stereotype this cannot hold much worth.

Wookie

Just a quick question for Hugo, Would you support Men only spaces that were not driven from a feminist prospective?

The Gonzman

I doubt it will either, as long as "y'all" like to paint irrational homophobia as 'proper boundaries' and waste energy on being loudly heterosexual.

Well, that amply explains your side's inability to get the message out, especially when you keep doing the same thing over and over vis-a-vis disseminating that message, and keep expecting a different result.

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