About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Men at work (III)

2. Men lack emotions

The convenient explanation for differences in emotional behaviour between men and women has always been one rooted in poorly understood research or outright pseudoscience. By denying that both genders are ruled by emotions just as much as they are ruled by rational thought, it gives way to the snippy little assaults from patriarchy-enabling but women-oriented media that sometimes portray men as emotional mutes, and adds to being male the status of being more 'rational', i.e. more competent and thus better at stuff.

“Men are bad at empathy.”

Bunk pseudoscience claims that women are better at gauging feelings in others because they focus more on how others feel. It's not hard to see that as a result of being taught to be nice and more family-oriented. Men, on the other hand, are taught no such things. They are taught to focus on ambition, getting ahead, and being competitive, traits that don’t dovetail well with empathy. This stereotype is dangerous on another level as well, because it gives sexual harassers the excuse of misreading signals.
  • Consequence for men: Underdeveloped empathy skills lead to selfish decision-making
  • Consequence for women: Difficulties in getting men to empathise with their plight

“Male emotions don’t really matter.”

It's not that our culture refuses to see that men have emotions, but they are certainly not discussed at length. Media devoted to women tends to focus a lot on feelings – life stories, friendships, relationships and family (this is not without its own problematic consequences) – whereas media devoted to men doesn’t. At any rate, this may leave men with underdeveloped emotional personalities who outsource emotional labour to the women around them.
  • Consequence for men: Forced detachment
  • Consequence for women: Some women get the additional burden of having to make sense of men's emotions on top of their own because men have never been taught to do it

“Men are not allowed to show emotion.”

Previous section touched upon it already, but it deserves its own discussion: a man who displays emotion is displaying weakness, lowering his status as the stable cornerstone of a traditional patriarchal family. I sense that there has even been a hardening in this field in the past decades. Two centuries ago, male poets and artists spoke freely about sensorial experiences and emotions in ways that would make a lot of modern men feel uncomfortable. An exception is anger, and this creates its own set of problems.
  • Consequence for men: Repressed emotions
  • Consequence for women: Being emotional is seen as a net negative because it's 'female'

On to part IV.