Men Stay Silent
Thursday, January 1, 1998 by Dave Winer.
Happy new year!
Go get a cup of coffee before you read this one.
It's gonna be a strrrrretch!
I've wanted to write this piece for several years, but didn't know how. The new year provides a transition point. Some truth comes out?
Let's have fun!
A few years ago, a pool party at my house, a bunch of adults and kids.
A six year old boy runs to his father, wraps himself around his dad and starts crying. Tears rush down his face.
I connect with myself as a boy. When I missed a catch playing baseball, or got a bad grade at school, I would start crying and it embarassed me.
Many years later, I look at my friend's son and feel pity for him for having such poor control of his feelings.
In the last weeks of a long relationship, lying in bed with my lover, listening to her tell a story of a friend whose young husband had died suddenly.
Sitting in the front seat of a car, it's dark, four people, all women, two in front, two in back. In the back seat her friend starts weeping loudly and uncontrollably.
How horrible to feel so deeply that you lose control, I said to myself at the time, listening to the story. I couldn't imagine how I could deal with pain so deep that it forces you to show weakness.
A few months later, after a breakup that would be unbelievable if you saw it on a soap opera, I was in a gym exercising with my brother. After the workout, lots of heavy breathing and lifting, we went to the sauna.
It happened to me! I started weeping uncontrollably. All mixtures of feelings came pouring out. The crying was the visible sign of something much larger that was erupting.
My brother got upset, as I had a few months earlier. "You shouldn't do that here!" he said. My weeping turned into laughter. I wanted him to know that it felt great! Much better than what it replaced, the act of not weeping. It takes so much energy to keep it bottled up. What a relief to let it go.
In this age, as in previous ones, we define manhood as the ability to control one's emotions. This has gotten us in trouble, and we know it.
There are two sides to the problem. Can men express themselves and will women and other men let them?
I have trouble listening to men. There's something weird about a man telling you how he feels, what he sees. I've learned to get over this strangeness. I listen to men as I listen to women, when they're willing to talk.
Women speak of themselves so freely. They organize, they teach and train, they even teach boys how to be men.
Men have lousy PR. As individuals we can shine, but we don't do anything to improve the reputation of our gender.
I hear complaints from women who want men to be more expressive. I have something to say to them.
When you're ready to hear what men have to say, men will say more.
There's two sides to every coin. A lot of men, including me, don't feel as if we have permission to speak our truth, to say what we see. The barriers seem to be everywhere.
How do you feel about this piece?
Does it make you scared?
Do you wonder what's coming next?
Do you want to unsubscribe?
Think about it.
I don't want to say these things. That's why I'm saying them.
You may not want to hear them. That's why you should hear them.
Men stay silent. We manipulate symbols to express ourselves. We bottle up who we are. We try to achieve the vision the world has for us, whether it's true or not.
Basically, we lock up lies in our bodies. People don't listen when we have something to say. So we stay quiet. Some of us explode in anger. Either way, we end up disappearing.
Dead eyes. Lifeless lives.
Men are strong.
Men have no fear.
It's a man's world!
Every man had a mother.
We create each other and together we create the world we live in.
No one must be silent.