“We need more sensitive men.”
“Men need to be more sensitive.”
I’m calling bullshit.
“The problem is that men just aren’t sensitive enough.”
I often hear this idea that the world would be better, kinder, cooler, and more beautiful if men were more sensitive, that relationship problems would disappear, that wars would stop, that angels would sing…
Every time I hear this idea, I think the same thing.
That is not how it works.
That is not how it works because men already ARE sensitive.
We know pain. We ache and feel angst. We get hurt and down and we know what a frown is and how bad it can be to breathe sometimes, how heavy a hard conversation can be, and we know the misery of lingering loneliness. We feel cold and alone, get jealous and frustrated, and we’ve captured rapture in random things like eye contact and back scratches. In other words, we know the joy that bliss brings. We all feel all the feels.
The problem is not ‘being sensitive’.
The problem is that men are encouraged to hide from sensitivity. The problem is that men are scared to express how we feel. The problem is the constant pressure to present ourselves as strong rocks who talk but not much more because in society’s story, men are taught to play pretend. The problem is that men who cry are teased and called ‘soft’ or ‘wuss’, told to ‘man up’, and are looked down upon. The problem is that people talk about sensitivity as if it’s an honorable and heroic act and not a basic human condition necessary for survival. The problem is that men keep our troubles tied up tightly inside and we put on masks so we can hide behind fake smiles and live lies disguised to keep us alive and happy and thriving, but our thoughts are actually destroying us.
The problem is that people keep telling us to be more sensitive when that’s the only fucking thing we truly are.
But, if we assume that all men are inherently sensitive men, what then? Where do we go from here? How does the charade end?
I have a few ideas.
We need more expressive men. Men who aren’t afraid to mean what they say, men who clearly communicate and articulate exactly what they feel and why, men who don’t hide from the dark shades of color painted inside of their minds.
We need more courageous men, men who are scared to express themselves but do it anyway, men who look fear in the face and slap the doubts away with a quick burst of boldness, men who are comfortable in their own skin, men who know their truth and live it.
We need more men who are brave, men who know and help others to understand that sharing weakness is a sign of strength, and that in order to thrive through all of the bleak bits and hardships of life we must first admit and accept that they are in us, that our sorrow is sacred, our hardships holy, and the whole damn point of life is to feel alive.
I repeat: The whole damn point of life is to feel alive.
We need more accepting men, men who understand that it’s okay to feel things, to speak things, to see things differently, men who defiantly defend their pain as a gift, a present to treasure and unwrap, a package to share at all times and not just when asked, demanded, or reprimanded.
We need more men who learn the hugely important truth that feminism is a synonym for equality, just as courage is another name for love.
We need men who admit that they feel things, that those feelings are freeing, and that freedom that comes with the honest expression and outgoing admission of fear, hurt, and hope, that these are lessons, all of them, even the ones we fail.
We need more men to be told there is no such thing as failure, that it doesn’t exist. There are opportunities, growth and lessons learned instead, stepping stones to success dressed up as remorse, regret and distress, yes, but there is never failure, not as long as we remember to forge and follow the path our heart beats, and to express what it says.
Failure is but a ruse, a ghost, an invisible man dressed up as an angry boss behind a great big desk with a big red pen waiting to mark up the answers we live, but really, how can you fail in the middle of a test?
How can you fail when you’re not done yet?
That’s all that life is – a long hard test of how bad we want to become what we are, and how far we’re willing to fall to earn our scars, and to learn our scars, like our hearts, keep us going instead of keeping us down.
Until we decide to change, to behave in new and different ways, it will all stay the same.
And that’s just not good enough, no matter how sensitive we become.