A Scarcity of Affection Among Men

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About Jackson Bliss

Jackson Bliss is the author of BLANK, The Ninjas of My Greater Self, Dream Pop Origami + Atlas of Tiny Desires. His essays + short stories have appeared in Tin House, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, Fiction, Quarterly West, ZYZZYVA, Fiction International, Stand (UK), Huffington Post UK and African American Review, among others. You can find him at www.jacksonbliss.com and on Twitter.


  1. LukeinDetroit says:

    What the hell is an “Obasan”? I really like this website but stuff like this is such a turnoff. If you’re going to use terms that are not broadly understood in your (supposed) demographic at least define them. Otherwise it comes off as really elitist.

    Otherwise, excellent article. You’re central thesis is soooo important and, in my opinion, one of the top ways sexism hurts men too.

  2. Ken Maher says:

    The essence of this article is so true. I grew up in an Irish-American family where men showed affection to each other only through teasing. I had five uncles, some of them more merciless than the others. The men in my family never hugged or kissed each other. Fortunately, most of my neighborhood was Italian-American. The men in these families hugged and kissed each other all the time. Most importantly, the father kissed their sons, as well as their daughters. As a child, I found this embarrassing, but as I started having children of my own, I starting kissing them–both sons and daughters. One day, I kissed my father and told him I loved him. He said he loved me, too, as if we’d been saying this all our lives. We did that every time we talked until he died. Nowadays, I hug and kiss my male friends and am thankful for the example my Italian neighbors set for me. I hope my seven children and thirteen grandchildren are thankful, too.

  3. Michael Valentine says:

    Appreciation… this closely related article on Elephant just rolled through again also: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/10/why-men-are-so-obsessed-with-sex-steve-bearman/
    ~ Heart

  4. My Grandfather on my father’s side died when he was 10 in an accident and as a result of my own fathers difficult job in the prisons I can very much empathise with how such men never learned to share their emotions let alone admit they had them. However much of what you say has to do with the environment in which men have been raised as opposed to any failure on men’s part. For instance, you write:

    …”the system victimizes them[women] in different ways at different stages (through slut-shaming, income inequality, domestic relegation, sexual objectification and ownership, for example)….

    You make no contrast here, as if you were talking about black slaves(who in contrast to white people of the time had NO equal in persecution and atrocity). Men do not as a sex oppress women, men have singularly and as a group done so as much as women have to men. Motherhood is a choice today, the state provides for them should a man not fulfill his role(or indeed be forced out of it on purpose). Domestic relegation is no longer even legal(visa vi the new laws on maternity leave in the UK) and don’t get me started on sexual objectification – how often do men value women solely for what’s in their wallet as opposed to how they look physically….please. Its high time men stopped this “sensitive 90′s male” crap and got angry at how the law and society as a whole treats them. We are human beings deserving of REAL EQUALITY, family, rights and yes INTIMACY(which has nothing to do with the “committment” sold as rings, weddings, honeymoons, houses and the learned helplessness of servitude in hateful jobs).

    • You should be mad at the .001% of war profiteers, HMO’s, financial manipulators, and the prison industrial complex, not harping on hierarchies of oppression. The corporatocracy is using your readiness to resent women as a way to control you and keep you in “the learned helplessness of servitude in hateful jobs.” You’re letting your true enemy drive a wedge between you and the potential allies you need to improve your quality of life – what better way to do this than to divide the population in half? They do this with racism, homophobia, and religious intolerance too.

  5. I practically sobbed as you did on the commuter train. You have provided a beautiful and round-about window to naming the hunger we men face for each other. I run a weekly men’s group here in Washington, Missouri, near St. Louis that has a core of 24 men. At least a dozen and a half make it each week to share openly about our lives and to live in brotherhood – at least for an evening. It is beautiful to watch the physical and emotional outreaches of affection among the guys, many of whom didn’t know each other before. You hit the nail on the head clearly.

  6. ‘… men have grown up seeing affection as sexual behavior, not social behavior.’

    SO true and as such, it is easy to understand how women are objectified. We become objects to satisfy the human need for affection, but those efforts are most often of the sexual or sensual nature. Brilliant article that illuminates the necessity for healthy, non-sexual human touch for men to truly thrive.

  7. Dina Strange says:

    Surrounding yourself with people who are full of love sounds to me like emotional parasitism. Eventually you will suck those people dry and then will leave exasperated and angry. It’s okay to get your emotional kicks from someone else but the main source of your emotions should be YOU.

    I grew up with a mother who was emotionally unavailable. I don’t go around sucking men for emotions which i didn’t receive in childhood from my mother…i try to seek it inside myself.

    Other than that, great article. I do agree men need to receive more affection from their fathers and develop emotional bonds with their fellow men. Our culture is sick.


  1. […] Bliss, Jackson. “A Scarcity of Affection Among Men.” The Good Man Project. October 7, 2013. http://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/a-scarcity-of-affection-among-men/ […]

  2. […] As my article on the lack of male affection points out, most men grow up devoid of male affection. Male self-love initiates (and in some cases, […]

  3. […] A Scarcity of Affection Among Men […]

  4. […] with me because we are raising two young men in a world that is struggling with gender equality. “A Scarcity of Affection among Men” by Jackson Bliss was a piece I found particularly […]

  5. […] a sensate experience and arrives at an emotional experience of intimacy. I just came across a wonderful article on how boys are so often deprived of physical affection from their parents, and how this impacts […]

  6. […] A Scarcity of Affection Among Men — The Good Men Project says: January 1, 2014 at 10:31 am […]

  7. […] a sensate experience and arrives at an emotional experience of intimacy. I just came across a wonderful article on how boys are so often deprived of physical affection from their parents, and how this impacts […]

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