Are Men Mentally Tougher?
Men are strong and stoic and women are weak and dependent, right?
That’s the stereotype. But stereotypes can create social patterns. And surprisingly, things that appear weak may turn out to be strong. And vice versa.
Men seem strong because they don’t cry easily. Boys hear, “Boys don’t cry… toughen up… keep a stiff upper lip… be strong and independent…”
They hear those things all their lives. And they work hard to meet expectations, under threat of not being man enough.
Girls are allowed to cry and depend on others. They might grow up to be tough and strong, but not because they’re pressed to. And so fewer do.
Parents are also quicker to jump in and help girls – or just do it for them. Boys are expected to figure things out for themselves.
And thereby, stereotypes create social patterns as we live up to – or down to – expectations.
But in some ways boys become stronger, and in some ways girls become stronger.
As challenges come, boys are less likely to give in or give up or breakdown or depend on others. Due to their training, not their biology.
On the other hand, suppressed emotion only looks like strength. It’s actually a mask that both creates and hides wounds — welts that rise when half of one’s humanity is cut off.
A strong, mentally healthy person has access to a range of emotions, and is not stifled in their expression. And she will more likely seek help when she needs it.
If a woman is depressed she is more likely to seek the help of a therapist.
Refusing support isn’t a strength.
When a depressed man shuts off his feelings and avoids seeking help he’s more likely to work to transform his “weakness” into a perceived strength. Maybe by pounding the woman he claims to love. He feels strong in the moment. But he isn’t really. It’s an illusion that temporarily tricks him into believing he’s strong. But it merely covers over his sickness.
Luckily, even where stereotypes have shaped us we have other choices. But sometimes we must escape our cramped boxes to be able to see our options.
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Posted on July 31, 2015, in feminism, gender, men, psychology, sexism, women and tagged emotional strength, feminism, gender, men, mental toughness, psychology, sexism, women. Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.