What Men Dare Do! "O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!"

31Oct/100

Sisters Make You Happier; Why Not Brothers?

Sisters Make You Happier; Why Not Brothers?

There's been a lot of talk of a recent study (one in a string of them), that found that people with sisters were generally happier.

As the linked article suggests, a lot of this has to do with communication: men don't communicate about emotional issues very well.  So when a family has a daughter, she's able to emotionally communicate effectively with her siblings.

So I suppose it doesn't tell us anything that we don't already know, anecdotally, about men, which is that we're not very emotionally mature or communicative.  This isn't particularly revelatory, and it certainly isn't particularly revelatory to women or to feminists, I imagine.

But it does have some interesting implications for talking to men about feminism.  A lot of feminist issues are framed as emotional ones or have emotional aspects of them.  I'd be hard-pressed to name a feminist issue for which I don't have an emotional and often visceral response to.  Now the problem comes in is that when men are presented with feminist issues from a woman's perspective (as feminist issues usually are), men frequently have more difficulty understanding the issues because of the emotional content, or men are made uncomfortable talking about the issues because of the emotional content.

One of the reasons we're made uncomfortable talking about emotions is that we're pretty much taught that men have to suppress certain kinds of emotions.  Sure, we can be happy and angry, but "boys don't cry," is pounded into us at a young age.  We're not taught to embace any outward displays of affection, platonic or otherwise, to any people.  We're not taught to give much thought to our feelings or others' feelings as it comes to things that bother us cause us concern.

I think a lot of feminism is talking about emotions, and feminist issues like identity and sexuality are intensely personal and require a certain emotional vocabulary that men don't traditionally have a lot of facility with.  For male feminists, part of our strategies and tactics have to take into account overcoming this challenge.  Male feminism needs to help men become more comfortable talking about feminist issues with an emotional aspect, and communicating with both men and women.

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