Society is very effective at regulating what behavior shown by men and women is ok and what is not by ridiculing certain actions and praising others. Now just because society gets involved in regulating behavior does not make what it declares as good behavior – good behavior. It also does not always have the right answer as to why it is ok to behave in certain ways. For instance:
In my grandparent’s day, the prevailing attitude of men or women crying is pretty much the opposite of the view we have today. Now, when a man cries, he is generally accepted as sincere, vulnerable to a point, and even respected. The reason behind this is to try and make him equal in his sensitivity to a woman. When a woman cries, she is generally accepted as weak, overly emotional, and pitiful. The reason behind this is to shame women into appearing as strong, or stronger than, men. This view may sound harsh, yet compare a movie or TV news scene where a man cries and a scene where a woman cries. Our reaction to each is different as it well should be. Since men and women are different, it looks different when each cries and feels different to us as observers because men and women are inherently different. The problem is letting the media dictate to us what it means when a man cries and what it means when a woman cries. It means whatever it means at that moment for the crying individual. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing wrong with crying. It is a part of being human and should be acknowledged as such.
Let’s move on to a different emotion: anger. When a man displays anger, he is generally accepted as brutish, uncontrollable, violent, and deadly. When a woman displays anger, she is viewed as righteous and justified. Now to be fair, there are some women who become violent when they are angry, but it isn’t a majority. Anger for men is not an acceptable behavior. Anger for women is viewed as understandable. Everyone experiences times when they are angry. In the Wild West days, you had to know how to deal with and difuse an angry man, or he might just shoot you where you stood. What is sad today is that there are few people who know how to properly handle men or women who are angry. Now I am talking about being angry, not abusive. It is important to know the difference. Today, when a man becomes angry, he is automatically labelled as abusive. So, society’s message to men is, “You can be angry, but you just can’t show it otherwise you are abusive.” How well is that supposed to work? Talk about a pressure cooker. When women are angry, men are expected to brace themselves and take what they have coming to them. When men are angry it is not acceptable, and they are to bottle it up and not show it in the slightest, otherwise the cry goes out, “Abuse!” He is supposed to be as mild mannered as she is. This societal double standard ends up being harmful for all parties concerned. When society attempts to make men and women equal in these ways it continues to force unhealthy self-views on both men and women alike.