In the last several decades, with the rise of the era of sensitivity, men have come a long way in being able to express their emotions and in some ways this has liberated men from the limitations of the past when men were expected to always be strong, stoic, and to suffer in silence.  In the past, men were allowed to openly display only a few emotions in our society such as anger, up to a point, happiness, as long as it was subdued and never giddy, and sadness but only in a manly way, never with any whimpering, whining, or weeping.

For many years men were the sole or primary bread winner and were expected to go to work and provide for their family regardless of the hardships or difficulties involved.  Men rarely complained about hazardous or dangerous working conditions and certainly would never have considered making an issue of a hostile work environment.  These adverse working conditions were business as usual for men and only became issues when women started to enter the workplace in large numbers.

The desire to appear strong and unflappable was something that men learned from a very early age.  In our culture, men were taught not to wear their emotions on their sleeves and that it was a sign of weakness if they did not adopt a steadfast and self-assured persona.   As children, men were told don’t be a cry baby, as they got older they were admonished if they didn’t take it like a man, and throughout their lives they were told to be strong and keep a stiff upper lip.   In other words, the lesson to be learned was that it was not appropriate to show your emotions or ask for help.

Men were, by and large, expected to endure whatever hardships they encountered and, to some extent, were expendable in our society.  Men went into combat, performed most of the truly hazardous jobs, and anyone who is aware of the history of the Titanic knows that men always went down with the ship.  Our society placed a high value on men being brave and had little patience or respect for men who were deemed to be too emotional.  As boys grew into adulthood, they were taught to believe that it was a sign of their manliness to accept the trials and tribulations of life rather than complain or be upset by them.  When tragedy struck, men were expected to rise to the occasion rather than show fear or be despondent.

On the other hand, women have always had the advantage of being able to express their emotions without recrimination.  Our culture more readily accepted that women reached out to others and shared their feelings and problems.  Women were and, to some extent, still are more likely to seek medical attention, feel more comfortable with counseling, and more likely to discuss their problems with their friends.   Having always had this freedom to express themselves and to develop a support network may be one reason why women live longer than men.

Perhaps, now that men have started to be empowered to more freely express their feelings they will live longer and happier lives.

On Wednesday, Joe makes an observation on the difference between marketing and just stating facts in “Is It Fact Or Is It Marketing?”.