Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Empathy and Masculinity

This be one of the great mysteries of maleness: What to do when need of comfort arises.

Seriously, when another guy is going through a rough time (say… member of the family undergoing meningitis scare), what does one say and do toward that individual?

[Gently shaking his hand] “How is everything? Are you all right? We’re praying for you. Yes. If you need anything at all, don’t hesitate to call. Want a casserole or two?

O.K, clearly that’s wrong. It’s fine for the chicas, but us male specimens are above that. Or, more accurately, get the heck embarrassed out of us by it.
So, how about a more macho alternative…

[Raising fist in air in lieu of handshake] “’Sup.”

I mean, it’s perfect, right? No awkwardness, just good ol’ masculine camaraderie! A pleasant, understated way of saying, “Here for you, fella.”
Well, yes and no. It’s all implied—which seems like a good thing… but might not always be. The fact that it’s, well, identical to the universal guy greet used at all other times might cause some confusion.
“Is he being coolly understated and giving me the space I need while letting me know that, though as men we would never dare speak it aloud, I’m cared about? Or does the dumbbell just have no clue what’s going on in my life?” he asks himself.

I think you can see the dilemma.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you've made a pretty big assumption that all men are uncomfortable with dealing with emotions in the company of other males. Frankly you haven't thought your point through well at all. I know for a fact that if I'm feeling like shit and one of my boys acted as in the second example, I'd think him quite the cunt for not checking in with me.

Provide a space where the dude can talk about it. Your responsibility is to ask the question initially, after that it's up to him if he wants to talk. Either way he knows your there.