Dudes Have Feelings Too. And That’s OK.

This is a response to an opinion piece by Matt Aiken, publisher of the Dahlonega Nugget in the August 5th, 2015 issue:

I don’t envy Matt Aiken’s job. Publishing a newspaper is, I imagine, no simple task. But as a publisher, he has an obligation to present us with information responsibly and sincerely. More than once, now, Matt has demonstrated a disturbing blind spot toward matters of race and gender.

A couple months ago, after the backlash against the now notorious UNG catalog, Matt failed to seek input from any people of color — in response to an issue that clearly affected them. He did graciously publish my critical letter, so I must credit him that.

In the Nugget’s most recent issue, Aiken recounts a trip to see Inside Out with his family. What a beautiful thing, especially considering how many parents neglect to spend quality time with their children anymore.

The problem comes from the absolute fear Aiken displays (so terrible he likens it to being at a horror film!) over being caught crying in public; something a “real” man would presumably never do.

That in itself is problematic enough, but after the incident, Aiken imagines hastening back home to wash away the stink of “emotional tenderness” by performing such “manly” tasks as mowing his lawn with his shirt off.

Gender roles aren't what they once were. In 2015, gender equity doesn't just mean women should make as much as men, but that feminine attributes shouldn't be viewed as weak and - yes, God forbid - a little boy can wear a pink dress and still be tough as nails!

Gender roles aren’t what they once were. In 2015, gender equity doesn’t just mean women should make as much as men, but that feminine attributes shouldn’t be viewed as weak and – yes, God forbid – a little boy can wear a pink dress and still be tough as nails!

While I’m sure this was all meant in jest, this episode reflects a persistent theme of hyper-masculinity that pervades our culture.

At a time when gender norms are being reconsidered, all of us — men especially — have an obligation to be more thoughtful.

Why are we so afraid for our neighbors to see us cry over a film that genuinely touches our hearts? Why must we tightly bottle our emotions, to the point they sometimes explode in a violent burst of anger?

After years of giving thought to these issues myself, I still fight back tears when I speak about close personal issues. If crying over painful memories or touching moments is worthy of shame, what are we doing wrong in this world?

In some quarters, feminism is considered a dirty word. But it’s feminism that poses the tough, sobering questions. Feminism means not only ensuring equal rights for women and demanding autonomy over our bodies, it means liberating all of us from those antiquated gender roles that tie us down.

If a boy wants to play with dolls and wear a pink dress, who are we to tell him that’s wrong? If a little girl wants to roll in the mud and drive a tractor, how is it our place to label her behavior “unladlylike.”

We’re all different, but there’s one thing we all share: feelings. Men have them. Women have them. Even people who don’t identify as either men or women have them. And that means sometimes we cry. Who cares?

Let’s ask ourselves: Who really demonstrates greater strength, the man who hides his tears behind faux-manly yard tools and bare-chested displays of machismo, or the man who cries along with his children and teaches them their feelings are nothing to be ashamed of?

3 thoughts on “Dudes Have Feelings Too. And That’s OK.

  1. > If a boy wants to play with dolls and wear a pink dress, who are we to tell him that’s wrong? If a little girl wants to roll in the mud and drive a tractor, how is it our place to label her behavior “unladlylike.”

    What if a boy wants to claim society oppresses men because men have less rights than women? Is he allowed to do that?

    Men actually do have less rights than women. But does that mean men are allowed to play the victim? Or are only women allowed to play the victim, even though women have more rights than men?

    As a feminist what are your thoughts on this? (and would you like a list of the rights women already have that men don’t yet have?)

    Like

    • If this is a serious inquiry, I’d be glad to engage, but this sounds suspiciously like MRA trolling.

      To claim that women “play the victim” by simply demanding equal treatment or the right to have their bodies and choices respected, without some dude ogling, questioning, ridiculing, or slut-shaming them, is ludicrous.

      No — women don’t have “more rights” than men, by any measure. And I don’t want to see some tired old list about how men have to register for the draft or how you somehow feel women expect you to hold a door open for then.

      Even so, it’s not a competition. Just because women(or people of color, or any other oppressed group) gain rights they didn’t have before, that doesn’t mean you’ve lost any of your rights — unless the right to oppress people who don’t look like or have the same genitals as you falls into that category.

      I’m a man and feminist because feminism means smashing the antiquated gender roles that dictate how we’re expected to behave based strictly on our genitals. And also because I’m sick to death of weak, whiny men complaining every time they get “friend-zoned” or rejected by a woman. Imagine, the tyranny of being turned down for sex, and after you were such a super nice guy! I reckon w e should add that to the list of rights men don’t have.

      So don’t come here with that mess when we live in a world where men occupy nearly every position of political or social power in our country, and the world — men who oppress both working class men and women alike, and have done a fabulous job of destroying the planet along the way.

      If you’re looking for a place to play the victim yourself, you’re taken a wrong turn somewhere my friend. This ain’t it. Take the trolling back to Facebook.

      Like

    • Women want to be paid equally, have control over their reproductive organs, and not feel like they are going to be attacked when walking to their car after work. Feminists want men to be able to get custody of their kids. We want men to be able to show emotion. We want men to be able to say they were raped without shame. We want all people to be treated like people, no matter their sex, gender, walk of life. We all deserve respect. Feminism isn’t a power play. We all have different struggles and we want to overcome them together.

      Liked by 1 person

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