Men and Women: More Alike Than Different

I was just reading a blog about the incredibly wide chasm between men and women. Several books have been written on the subject as well.  I do not believe that line of thinking. Yes, we are different in some ways, but I believe we are more alike than different. I think the differences are more a result of cultural influences and less about genetics. Take being emotional for example. People typically view women as expressing sadness more easily than men. Is that because women are better at feeling and expressing their emotions than men? Is it because men don’t actually feel sadness? I think it’s because men in this country, for the most part, have been raised for generations to suck it up. When they were young, men often heard, “Don’t cry, you look like a baby” or some version of that statement. Boys were told it’s not ok to show their sadness. Anger, oh that’s another story. Men are generally much more comfortable in their anger, yet women tend to think they are bitchy if they are angry. “That’s not very lady-like” may have followed a girl’s outburst of displeasure.
I believe men and women are wired nearly identically when it comes to emotions. We each have the capacity to feel sadness, anger, fear and joy. When we are not authentically connecting with our emotions, we shut parts of ourselves off. If we do that repeatedly, we will become somewhat dissociated from the part of us that has been cordoned. That part isn’t gone; it’s being pushed into a pressure cooker. Eventually, those emotions are going to leak out. They may show up physically like an illness, digestive issue or even cancer. Perhaps they reveal themselves in an addiction or are disguised in an emotion we are more comfortable expressing.
When we excuse away the genuine expression of our emotion with, “I’m a man, men don’t cry” we perpetuate the belief that it’s a gender issue and not a human issue.  The healthiest men I know have expressed very raw emotions of sadness and in doing so have allowed themselves to reconnect with parts they had banished years ago.  These men are fully integrated, aware of all parts of themselves.  It’s refreshing to be in their presence.  I also find the free man to be a very good listener.  He’s not bent on fixing my problem; he is genuinely interested in compassionately sitting with me and empathizing with my pain or my anger or celebrating my joy. The free man is no longer bound to gender expectations.
Take time this week to notice the parts of yourself you may have separated from to “fit” into your gender.