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Aug 23, 2011

I am Man, and That's the Way I Am.

In this little corner of cybersapace, where I began putting some of my thoughts, feelings, concerns and questions up, I quickly found myself in the minority.

Being male in this part of the blogosphere means that, more than once, I've gotten loads of feedback from the female perspective, with little or no support or understanding of where I stand or come from as a man. In many ways, I value getting that perspective and the feedback has been invaluable. I don't always expect support, nor do I feel I need it to choose my own way as a man.

I grew up with messages that communicated I should be ashamed of my masculinity and those who share my gender. In the American culture that I was raised, I watched time and time again as men were stereotyped as incompetent, shallow, pig-like, irresponsible and generally devalued as a gender and as humans. I was taught and quickly learned "to be nice" in attempting to "make up" for the "sins" of my gender.

So, as the story goes, I learned to bend backwards in being empathetic and understanding. I was taught to value those things over strong leadership, and personal strength. It was all about catering to women, and being the man that women wanted me to be. I was even told -over and over -to throw my own dignity and integrity out the window (under the guise of masculine ego and pride). Unfortunate, I believe, that I'd been taught to neglect my own masculinity and essentially act, think and feel -in short, relate -to the world and others as women do.

I grew up learning how to understand the world as women see it, learning to relate to women as they relate to the world. Of course, there's more to learn, there always is. But I've had a few recent conversations that have me asking - how many women work to see the world as I experience it as a man? Are there women who want to relate to me as I relate to the world? Who work hard to understand where I come from, how I think, how I experience?

I wonder how many women actually think about that. For a guy like me, it's kind of important. I've realized how much I internalize the feedback I get here, and because most of my interaction here is with women, I often (though not always) put significant effort and care in relating to y'all the way I learned to -on your terms.

Over the past several years, I've reclaimed much of the masculinity I had neglected and was taught to feel shame for. As much work as I put into understanding women, I value a woman who works hard to understand and relate to me as a man.

So for all y'all who care about any of that, I'm going to start putting down some of my masculine experience, perspective and understanding. I'll talk about the things that make me proud of my manhood, things that make me really feel great about being a man, things that women can do or say to build a great relationship with me as a man. I'm only one, but I'm feeling that someone's got to give voice to Man.

For those of you who don't much care, or disagree, or just want to get things your own way... I'll discuss, I'll explain or show more about my awareness and motivations and understanding but I won't argue or defend. I am Man, and that's the way I am.


  1. Are you kidding me?! I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to understand the male psyche! It fascinates me! Everyone says that men are the simple ones and females are the difficult and complex ones to understand but (being a woman), I find it much harder to understand what goes on in your brains...but when I do find out a snippet of information, it boggles my mind! Please post as much as you can on the topic! I can't wait! :)

  2. I didn't know guys were taught to be empathetic and understanding and it was a sin to be a man.(but i don't live in US)

    I was thinking that the women did suppress their feelings or opinions to please everybody so maybe they got resentful after so many centuries of that. and now men suppress theirs to be good man?

    so conclusion : everyone needs to learn to express himself or herself respectfully and to listen to the other side. So i can't wait either!

  3. Most Jewish boys are taught to be nice. I learned to be empathetic and understanding. The difference boils down to this: not being afraid of a woman's emotions.

    While everyone expresses themselves somehow, many people do not learn effective ways of expressing themselves in ways that others can listen and accept easily.

  4. it is always good to hear the perspective of the opposite sex. it helps put things in perspective.

  5. I don't understand why you went on a rant about you masculinity... is it something that comes up?

  6. I think you make some very interesting points here. I think I developed a similar woman-centered sort of persective during my high school years - not because I saw anti-men sentiments in the media, but because I saw first hand in my secular high school what these hormone-driven guys acted like. I totally rejected their ways and subsequently had more female friends.

    I think it is a very delicate balancing act for a man to maintain his male-ness and also cater toward understanding and interacting with women. This was true while dating, and is certainly more true while married when the process is much more dynamic, interconnected and immersive.

    It's kind of like learning a language in college and then going to live in that country to try out your skills - you will make mistakes, but the longer you are there in that environment, you'll learn, grow, and adapt.

    Keep up the good work! Male dating bloggers are few and far between, and it seems like we keep getting married. You provide a very informative and inspirational voice for us all.

  7. But it seems to me that to manage to be empathetic you MUSTN'T be afraid of the emotions.
    It is not enough to tell boys "be nice". They have to know that that they 're going to feel anxious because of their wife's negative emotions, impatient, they will want to run away (leaving her lonely and very sad).
    but if they DO manage to get over that anxiety and focus on her, that 's wonderful because it is a way to connect. Is it really so delicate? I mean, feeling anxious is not the end of the world specially if you know what you can get. What would you lose of your male-ness (which is...? a stereotype to be "strong"?)

  8. @ YN:

    It comes up every so often. It came up recently, and I was thinking about it.

    @ SoG:

    I has a similar experience in high-school. I wonder if rejecting their ways was a value judgment, and why it would be devalued. It's certainly looked down upon by society.

    @ lillette:

    Pretty much ANYTHING that anyone avoids is due to anxiety, which is rooted in fear and pain. But tell someone with a phobia that their anxiety isn't the end of the world, and that the other side of their fear is freedom...

    Unfortunately it doesn't change the way most people think, feel or act in the face of anxiety.

  9. It is like a phobia for men to listen to a emotionnal woman? This I didn't realise.
    So sad... but there is still cognitive therapy :)

  10. For many men, it can feel overwhelming. Unfortunately not all men learn that all they need to do is provide a listening ear and an empathetic understanding from the women they grow up around.

    Many men also don't learn that strong emotions aren't the end or even an indicator of a bad relationship.

    Perhaps with a bit more guidance, and less urging to "just be nice" to avoid emotional storms/turmoil, boys would grow up into men who work to understand and empathize instead of skirt around negative emotions with niceness.