Men and Their Hidden Feelings
In his essay, Men and their Hidden Feelings, Richard Cohen argues that that men have a tendency of concealing their feelings. He cite instances where a man may have a serious problem yet fail to mention it to anyone. In his view, men have no real friends unlike women who value friendship and find it difficult to hide their feelings. According to Cohen, men are taught while still young not to expose their emotions. They simply lack the ability to discuss their feelings and emotions. While I do agree with some of Cohen’s position regarding men’s inability to expose their feelings, I disagree with the position that it is a learned trait. Men’s secretive nature allows them to coexist with women while at the same time enabling them to handle problems of existence. Men are practical beings and their practicality is made possible by their inability to expose their emotions.
Men’s brains are structured for action. Men are not known to dwell so much on theory, in this case emotional talks. They seek practical solutions to practical problems. A man may have a problem in his relationship with a woman without the woman knowing. As such, men feel it their responsibility to seek practical solution which may involve quiting the relationship altogether. The main problem which accompanies the existence of men is women and this they don’t seem to make any progress with regard to handling each other. There is a common notion that men are from Mars and women are from Venus and this is true with regard to how differently they handle their emotions. Women often complain that men are not sensitive or emotional and men always hold that exposing emotions is a show of weakness which is not welcome in a man’s world. Even if men were to train on how to express their emotions, they still would not make it because their nature dictates that they hold their private thoughts to themselves.
Cohen, however is of the position that men can still be men even if they exposed their emotions. He seems to deny and oppose his own nature as a man since it is not a deliberate effort by men to conceal their emotions. It is simply how men are. Period. He even recognizes that as much as he feels that sharing his emotions could be the right thing to do, he finds himself bottling it all up. This is the essence of a man’s life: protecting oneself. According to Michael French, men’s lives revolve around respect and care for fellow men, burying ones pain which includes those caused by women and deflecting judgment. (p.1) From this, it is clear that exposing emotions may jeopardize all or any of these themes. If men could share their emotions freely then we would have been living in a very difficult world, even women may find it hard to exist with them.
From an evolutionary perspective, hunting required that men shut off their emotions. It can be argued that over time, this has developed to be a natural phenomena which may not be reversed. (Tyrrel, 2008) Healthy relationship between men and women can only be realized if women recognize that men prefer to talk of practical issues rather than discuss their feelings while men should also appreciate that women need to be listened to as they off load some of their feelings. In a man’s perspective, a fellow man who constantly talks about his feelings is not man enough. They prefer that they talk about what has been done to suppress the feeling. For instance, in a situation of a painful break up, a woman may turn to her friends and pour out her emotions to them and naturally the friends will be sympathetic and help her to recover emotionally. The situation is however different with men. He may either choose not to talk about it or talk about it only when asked. Still, he may not refer to the break up even though deep inside, he feels he needs a way of getting over it of which talking about is is not an option.
Men, until they reach a crisis, will never admit or even hint that something is wrong. The real problem begins when he reaches a point of desperation that he cannot deny. For most men, failure is a crisis since it shows one has failed a test of masculinity. Their biggest fear is being exposed because men find it utterly difficult to handle gossip and slander. It may be argued that many men do not understand, neither are their emotions fully developed to handle themselves. Women on the other hand recognize their emotions hence turn to each other for emotional support. Men will always face crisis alone because they feel it is how things are: it is heroic to solve one’s own problem with no external support. However, behind this is frustration which may lead to anger, drugs or emotional shut down.
Cohen’s argument that women progress because of their openness to discuss their emotions may not be far from the truth. A deeper degree of self intimacy is always at the disposal of women. They always have something to hold onto during crisis and this may explain their lengthened lifespan in relation to their male counterparts. Women know how to communicate their feelings but men have never seen the reason to. Men always hold that it is a disgrace to the ‘manly species’ for one to openly express his emotions and feelings. A real man never shows his weakness. However, this is all embedded in the nature of human beings. Similarities and differences are the main core of the relationship between men and women and as such, one should not try to be like the other. It is virtually impossible.
Michael French. (2008) The Hidden Lives of Men, Part 2 Why Men Fall Out of Love: What Every Woman Needs to Understand
Richard Cohen. Men and their Hidden Feelings. Essay
Tyrrel, Mark. (2008) Men, women and emotions – or why he never tells you how he’s feeling!