Monday, December 31, 2018

In Defense of Male Stoicism

From Quillette:
“Can we wean boys off machismo and misogyny?” wrote the author Tim Winton. “Will they ever relinquish the race, the game, the fight, and join the dance?” What is inherently wrong with racing, or gaming, or even fighting in controlled, consensual situations? Competitive and even aggressive instincts can be useful and satisfying if channelled properly. A thousand “How The Patriarchy Harms Men and Boys, Too” articles have blossomed across the internet. There is no subtlety here. “From birth,” claims one article in Bustle, “Men are discouraged from showing emotion.” As if there are moms and dads who try to silence their baby boys as they scream in the maternity wards.

Mental health is more complex than “repression” versus “expression.” First, there are differences in how we experience feelings. Depressive rumination is more common among women than among men which can make them more vulnerable to stress and depression. I would not recommend “Stop Thinking About It” as a mental health campaign slogan but it complicates the picture. Rational coping as well as emotional suppression is more common among men than among women and can be a productive response to the struggles of life. Psychological needs vary depending on the person and the situation—certainly not just between the sexes—and there is no single, simple model of how one should cope with hardship and pain. We can all agree that no one should feel shame for talking, crying or seeking professional help, but we should not pathologize aversion to doing so under unwieldy banners like “toxic masculinity.”

Stoicism is a good thing that, like all good things, becomes damaging in excess. Even in the relatively comfortable West our lives are hard. We have bills to pay, and jobs to keep, relationships to maintain, and children to raise. Many people live with illness, grief, or the pain of separation or dreams gone to ruin. Some people are just sad in a deep, persistent way. At times we have to grit our teeth amid stress and suffering or else our lives will fall apart and damage those we love. (Read more.)
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2 comments:

Helen D said...

Over stoicism can be bad though. My dad had pains for a long time he didnt tell anyone about and it turned out to be a heart attack that nearly killed him. So expressing pain,is,not weakness.

Helen D said...

For toxic masculinity,go to Saudi Arabia.