When we thought the nonsensical stigma about men expressing their feelings had begun to lessen, the stigma seems to live on in 2020. Yes, men are still being judged for talking about their feelings, can you believe it?
Emotional Disclosure and Mental Health in Men
Historically, cultural conditioning results in men being disconnected from expressing and at times even becoming aware of their feelings. Men, in essence, have developed an understanding that this is the norm.
Not until recent years has there been widespread social diversions from attitudes that assign men the need to upkeep facades of masculinity.
The Mental Health Conversation
How men are imposed upon when it comes to being who they are, and feeling confident in their skin is an essential mental health conversation. The inability to express oneself lends itself to suppression of feelings and emotions that would lead to the desire to do so, and this is the trouble. This is a common theme contributing to the fact that men can account for more than half the suicide rate.
Despite knowing that fathers, brothers, and male friends are humans deserving of mental clarity that comes with expressing feelings. Men are still somehow getting the message that it is not okay to express themselves.
Study Examines the Messages Men are Receiving from Their Peers
This comes by notice of a provocative study conducted by The Movember Foundation, a movement advocating and raising awareness for men’s health. It addresses the perceptions of masculinity and the difficulties men are still facing with baring their emotions. It emphasizes previous findings that suggest that the ability to disclose with others emotionally serves as a valuable preventative measure for suicide.
Over the summer in 2019, surveys were conducted online that explore the perceptions of men who ranged from 18-75 years of age in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Four thousand men were interviewed, 1,000, respectively, for each country. The results were telling.
General Expectations of Masculinity
Almost half of these men described their understanding of masculinity as strong. They described the advantages of being masculine as an increased ability to find a partner, deal with daily life, as well as keeping a job. More than half understood that society expects them to be strong, equating this to physical strength and the ability to fix things. Interestingly 41% described that these pressures arise from other men.
Challenges Communicating Emotion
The fear of seeming unmanly caused 38% of the men surveyed to avoid talking to others. Forty-three percent, however, wished that they could speak to others. A staggering 77% believed that talking would help them if they could.
More than half of the men surveyed said that they have someone they could talk to if they needed to.
If men feel this way and the desire is there. Why haven’t we reached a point where men talk about their emotions openly? Well, it’s more complicated than that.
Up to 22% reported that they would feel disinclined to share if they were struggling with coping. A staggering 41% of men said they regret having opened up in the past. Even more, stated that their previous experiences have led to preventing them from doing it again.
In contrast, 50% said that they had had at least one positive experience in doing so. That number climbs to 65% when asked if talking in the past has helped problems, as well as their ability to grapple with them.
Aiming Up from Here
In a time where progression is valued, and social constructs are being reworked, the overarching idea of men having trouble with their emotions can feel crippling. Yet, despite this, the facts concerning men’s desire to connect and open up to others might be something to celebrate.
Perhaps there was a time where men wouldn’t dream of exploring their emotions verbally and were unaware all together of the double standard. Now, we’re at a moment in time where the fire to overcome limiting constructs is burning brighter.