AskMe Rescue - What are the disadvantages of being a man? May 29, 2008 7:03 PM   Subscribe

AskMe Chatfilter Rescue: Disadvantages of being male

I thought this was an excellent question, and it made me think. So let's continue the chat. The question was - What are the disadvantages of being a man? I vote for philosophical answers rather than stuff like who pays more for dry cleaning or cover charges. Like the one about how you can't be trusted around children because you might be a molester. That's a pretty sad reality. Here's what I think:

I enjoy being a guy, but one thing I have philosophized about is the stunted intimacy. I don't mean sexual intimacy, which is just one subset intimacy, but rather the unguarded closeness and surrender and trust and sharing that any two people can experience, such as a mother and child. Men have much less of this, at least in western culture.

You don't realize it for the most part because all you know is all you know. Being a man = reality (you know, if you're a man). But look at women. It is culturally acceptable and natural for them to display and and indulge in a level of intimacy and affection with each other that is simply not in the realm of possibilities between men. Can you imagine two straight men, who are friends, sitting on a couch together with their arms around each other, looking into each other's eyes, maybe one comforting the other, hand softly on his neck, or crying or something? Unless you're 6 and the other guy is your dad, that isn't going to happen, the obvious exception excluded. I know that regional cultures can make this more or less of a possibility for women too, but I think you know what I'm saying. To think of two men doing that kicks up a visceral gender-role police enforcement squad in one's lizard brain. What? WHAT?! It's so deeply ingrained that it's alarming when the sediment is disturbed. Or think about walking arm in arm down the street. No way. Guys have made a lot of strides in shedding machismo, but not to that degree. (again, this is culture-dependent. I've seen some other culture, maybe Indian (?) where guys might actually walk down the street holding hands)

And the thing is, I think I can speak for men (see culture caveats) when I say we don't want those things. It's not like we secretly want them but cruel society won't let us have them - it's that we simply weren't trained that way, or maybe it's a combination of biology and culture. Because of my socialization and the way gender roles are mapped out in our culture, I was essentially programmed that this was not an option any more than flying is, or that there could be some primary color other than the ones we know of. It isn't something you think about or regret, it simply doesn't exist.

And to clarify, I'm not talking about machismo, toughness, provider-ism, or the idea of men not being able to show emotions or weakness. Those things exist much closer to the surface than what I'm talking about.

Yet if I am using logic, I can say that humans are humans. On the inside we are all squooshy little oysters that are on the same journey regardless of the shape of our shell or our random gender assignment. We are all the same thing, having the same bewildering, exploratory experience. And intimacy is something every human spirit needs. Simply the act of touching while sharing a common experience is nourishment for the soul, perhaps some kind of assurance that we aren't alone. Look at chimps that don't get groomed by their troopmates - they become unhealthy. Look at the ostracized omega wolf in a pack - it's miserable. Beings need intimacy with their fellow beings. Women can have a level of tender intimacy with either sex, so essentially with anyone. Guys can only have that with women (noting the obvious exception). Again, it's not that I couldn't have that if I and another guy both wanted it and didn't care about gender roles, but it just doesn't exist in my head.

So then isn't it a deficit for me as a man that I don't have the same level of opportunity for intimacy as a woman? Shouldn't that be recognized as a pretty awful missing piece in the human journey? How would my life be different if there was not an invisible wall, or a set of blinders maybe, that cut out at least half of my opportunities to share existence with another human presence at a basic level? I don't know, but I bet somebody somewhere has studied this.

Still, though, it's great to be able to write my name in the snow.
posted by kookoobirdz to Etiquette/Policy at 7:03 PM (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Did someone over there tell you to take the discussion to MetaTalk? No? Well, there's a good reason for that.
posted by yhbc at 7:07 PM on May 29, 2008

So let's continue the chat.

This is not what MetaTalk is for.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:08 PM on May 29, 2008

Apparently the main disadvantage is having your threads deleted :-)

I don't really care all that much, but it does seem weird that that thread would be culled, but it's inspiration wouldn't. Isn't their status as chatfilter linked?
posted by phrontist at 7:08 PM on May 29, 2008

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