I’m just going to throw it out there… men have been emotionally jipped. There is a kink in the patriarchal line that is blocking the flow, the feeling. Women are fortunate enough to be flooded with hormones every month, turning up the dial up on our emotions to a degree where we can’t avoid it, we feel; it’s in our blood. Men however, don’t go through the same turmoil, and so, emotional learning happens in a different context and at a different rate.
I have only seen my father cry once. It happened for a split moment, just after our family dog was put down. I stood with my brothers, my father and all shed but a fraction of the grief that had flooded our family. But that was it. The emotions hid under the hearth again.
Fathering three sons and one daughter, is an interesting dynamic. It is a lot of testosterone to hold and yet there is contrast, the female, allows a softness to be revealed, softened against. Dealing with their feelings happened, in a much more masochistic way. Tears are swapped for the punching bag that hung in our garage, and talking about feelings was exchanged for silence. I remember in my rebellious years, a fingernail away from expulsion, my father’s response was the silent treatment as I cried and isolated. He didn’t know how to deal with his feelings, let alone teach me how to deal with mine. But I have learned much about my brothers and my father in hindsight. That we are all sensitive, emotional beings. It is our natural state. And still, the archetypal story goes:
men are strong, like the earth, women are wild, like the moon.
Men have been the fortress upon which society has relied for millenia. Yet, as time changed and feminism flew the coop in its raging glory, we have forgotten to acknowledge: the roosters cry too.
Yes (western) women have strided forward in our stance, our action, our work; we have learned these skills that society calls values in equality. But it is an equality within the patriarchal system that is being pushed, to work, to mother, to do it all. That is not equality.
Equality is to be interdependent, to do what comes naturally, what feels good and then exchange our work, our time and energy with another’s. That is the heart of community, even exchanges of energy. Yet we cannot inter-depend if we each have not learned how to hold ourselves, one another, our partners, our children or society with emotional intelligence. Meaning, we don’t try and numb ourselves, escape, minimise, hide or deny our feelings.
About a year ago, I was in conversation, sharing intimate and deep truths with a group of people, the question was raised: what is your biggest fear?
For the women, it varied. For all of the men, the same fear was put forth:
Not being able to support my family.
This totally blew my mind, the puzzle of manhood in reveal. Did all men share the same fear?
And so I asked more men and without fail, the answer remained the same. For this to be a collective fear, it must be an ingrained belief in society, particularly in our fathers. Generation after generation, war after war, the idealised ‘strong man’ was embedded in our patriarchal system. From father, to son it carried on. No wonder men have numbed out to cope with the weight of that burden.
Hats off to our forefathers who were the bricks and bolts of keeping it all together, but now, ‘keeping it all together’ has a new face; we have to know how to hold each other in the depths of our emotions.
We need to re-write the myth of manhood.
Powerful women need powerful men and healthy children need healthy parents. The entire future weighs upon our parenting, the importance of emotional intelligence is more critical than ever. Depression, suicide, disease has become so common we hardly blink an eye to it.
What will we teach the next generation? What will they learn, without us having to ‘teach’ them anything at all?
Society needs an education.
We all need a re-wiring in how to be human. First and foremost, the worth of our intelligence is not the cold scientific, carpmentalised analysis of how far we can separate something to understand it. It is our emotional intelligence, how we can holistically understand things, that is the great potential of our species. To truly see and empathise with all life; that is how we become true leaders.
We do not need to deconstruct the mechanics of mind or matter. We need to reconstruct our sense of living. The silver lining of war, is that it has a tendency to enliven us. Knowing we can die any day, any moment, is incentive to live fully and unapologetically us. This day and age, is the peak of death and destruction because it is so broad and is hitting not only our species and every other species, but the planet itself. The rush that swept up our ancestors in war, with a sense of romanticism is not in the air for us. The difference is, we are very distracted. With films, phones, fads, we forget that death is near. If not our own death, then the death of all we know life on Earth to be. If we turn this thing around, it will be the biggest collective initiation our humanity to has ever seen. This is universal, herein lies the potential to unite us in our differences as one human race.
Perhaps it is time, to surrender into chaos to curate more life.
Know your worth, open up and learn how to feel - the grief, the anger, the despair, the elatedness, the joy, the love. All of it! THAT is what it means to be alive.