Male Yearning

Tom Matlack gets serious about smash-mouthed football, Humanism, and the epidemic of men yearning for love and meaning.

 

Jessica Bennett, a writer for the Daily Beast, recently contacted me about the now full-length book by Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men.” She had been assigned a review — and was searching for a new angle. I found her opening salvo funny, depressing, and somehow refreshing by turns:

hey tom,

can you tell me how sick of this argument you are (cause i know you’re sick of it)? not sure if you’ve read it but i feel like i’ve read it 900 times by now, without a new angle (is there one even at this point?). i’m reviewing the book for the daily beast. 

best, Jessica

♦◊♦

On the way into a speaking engagement Sunday afternoon I was stewing about Jessica’s comment and the whole End of Men chain of logic when a friend tweeted me a BBC oped written by well-known British writer and critic Sarah Dunant in which she reports the distance she has travelled from an experience as an 18 year-old in California as an au pair during the height of sexual liberation (1969) to a world in which feminism has taken hold and yet women are ravenously consuming 50 Shades of Grey. Her key point is to call out men for their inability to speak on the topic of sex:

And that, I suppose, is what worries me. Where are the heavy-weight male voices debating contemporary sexuality? It’s difficult – getting men to talk honestly about sex. Not the nudge-nudge in the pub, or the throw-away gags of comedians, but serious questioning.

We accept that in the aftermath of feminism growing up male can be hard: but where are the big public conversations about men’s sexuality. The impact of pornography. How far has our desire changed theirs? Is their line between what is and is not acceptable different from ours?

Such admissions will not necessarily be politically correct. Sex often isn’t. It doesn’t help that when men do open their mouths on the larger stage, they are firmly shot down. Both George Galloway and our now ex-Justice Secretary Ken Clarke might have been ill advised in their remarks about sexual behaviour and the law, but like it or not, they thought something needed saying, only to be met by a storm of female outrage that effectively stifled all debate.

Yes, we have a long way to go. But we can’t do it without the views of men.

♦◊♦

Ms. Dunant put me in a bad mood on my walk Sunday afternoon from parking my car to finding the Harvard Science Center auditorium where I was to speak. So too did the knowledge that the New England Patriots were kicking off their season just about the time I would be taking the Podium to talk about Love and Ethics in the context of Humanism.

I hate Bud Light commercials with a passion, but smash-mouth football really seemed like a much better idea than sharing the stage with an ex-nun, a relationship columnist, a lobbyist, and a Humanist Chaplain. Especially with the whole world seeming to embrace the End of Men philosophy and calling us guys out for not speaking about sex when at GMP we publish piece after piece on that exact topic.

Sometimes, I hate to say it ladies, it does feel like we can’t catch a break as men in 2012. That has nothing to do with privilege or gender theory and everything to do with personal shortcomings of this author.

 ♦◊♦

It’s been nine months now since I penned the now infamous blog post, “Being a Dude is a Good Thing,” which started with my idea that as guys we are often misunderstood and ended with what felt like a world war, the resignation of some of our best known feminist writers, and Roseanne Barr (complete with shotgun in her profile pic) and Slate’s Amanda Marcotte pinning me to the wall in some kind of ultimate Twitter battle which left me sleepless for the holidays.

I really don’t want to go back there. GMP has moved beyond that—in large part moved beyond my limited view of the world and manhood—and I’d like to believe that so have I. I read that post back now and I can certainly see why people got so upset by some of the things I said. I know my motivation for writing what I did was born out of an attempt to be radically honest about tough stuff (ironically just as Ms. Dunant asks of the “heavy-weight male voices”) but it missed the mark in terms of what GMP really aspires to be and do.

As I settled in at the panel Sunday and listened to Harvard’s Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein talk about love as the greatest human need the germ of a thought began to occur to me.

As I listened to Mary Johnson, who worked closely with Mother Teresa for twenty years, talk about why she was attracted to doing good as a nun but ultimately had to leave Catholicism to embrace love on a personal level (“I first found myself in a lesbian relationship with a sister who was something of a predator,” she said before getting a huge laugh for admitting, “but then I had a much healthier relationship with a priest if such a thing is possible”), that thought continued to blossom in my mind.

Boston Globe writer Meredith Goldstein, author of the “Love Letters” column, talked about how often commenters assume the gender or sexual orientation of a letter writer wrongly. And when they realize their error they have enough self-awareness to radically change their advice based on gender and to understand how problematic that change might be.

Michael DeDora, Director of Public Policy for the largest Humanist think tank, talked about the visceral feeling he had while protesting the imprisonment of a Alexander Aan, 30, an Indonesian man who received a two and a half year sentence for checking off that he is an atheist on Facebook. Michael reported talking to the policeman outside the embassy where the rally was being held who kept asking him questions about the man who was serving two and a half years purely on religious grounds. He kept asking Michael whether he personally knew the guy and when Michael responded that he knew of him from the news media and had been in touch with his legal team, the policeman had this look on his face like if you don’t even know this guy why are you out here protesting for his release? why do you even care?

The answer for Michael, like for Greg, Mary and Meredith was human love.

 ♦◊♦

Speaking last on a panel can be interpreted two ways:  you are either the least important so you better keep it really short or you are the cleanup batter so it’s your job to take everything that has been said before, throw out whatever prepared remarks you might have, and smack the ball well beyond the Green Monster. I elected to interpret my position last Sunday as the latter of those two possible interpretations.

What came to me was this idea which is the flip side of what I tried to talk about in the ill-fated blog last December, what Hanna Rosin is talking about with the macro trends which pits men against women and falling dramatically short, and the well-meaning but to my mind blindingly naïve piece by Ms. Dunant calling men out for their lack of forthrightness when it comes to sex.

In all my travels talking to men, listening to their stories, writing about them, and just plan sitting around a table playing poker and smoking cigars (yes that is what I most like to do), what I hear is a deep-seating yearning. A yearning for love of all kinds—romantic, sexual, fatherly, in work, in friendship.

All this gender based finger pointing is completely beside the point.

When I finally opened my mouth, I told my story as vividly and concisely as I could and explained how my own search for meaning and for love had led me to other men who helped me see the ways in which I had bought a bill of goods around what is important as a guy and to heal the broken place in my soul. And how everything that had come after was a reflection of the power men getting real about that innermost yearning.

The fundamental point that much of the public discourse about masculinity misses, and the GMP is trying to address, however imperfectly, is that the yearning for love and meaning among men is at epidemic proportions.

We have this notion that the guy watching a football game or working at an investment bank has no heart, is dead inside. That just isn’t true. I’ve said for a long time that at times the vocabulary that some men use to talk to each other is different than some women use to talk to each other. But take the most stereotypical macho, beer-guzzling, knuckle-headed guys (i.e., my friends) and tell them a story about photojournalist Michael Kamber’s imbed on the ground in Iraq when his unit gets hit and he has to decide to take pictures or save lives, and those guys are all gonna be crying. And so am I. As men we see and feel the importance of what is being talked about and how it applies to the challenges in our lives to figure out what the heck it means to be a man and to be good and to try to do things that are impossible despite the long odds.

So please, let’s stop talking about the end of men. Let’s stop talking about how feminists and MRAs can’t get along. Let’s stop talking about how men need to come clean about their deepest sexual desires (hint there Sarah, men that I know are more interested in love than sex but they get lost along the way). And let’s stop pitting men and women against each other.

Let’s start acknowledging that in 2012 men are suffering in all kinds of ways that include the very definition of what it means to be man in a world with quickly shifting sands economically and socially. And at its core that suffering is about a yearning that can only be filled by deeper connect with each other and with the women in our lives.

 ♦◊♦

 On the way out a young male Harvard student stopped me to talk about the controversy last December. “I love your site but I just don’t understand why you let Hugo on your site to begin with,” he started out.

I made clear that honestly everyone is invited to this party. In fact I had gone inside Sing Sing prison to bring the GMP to convicted murders and left a changed man by hearing their stories and sharing mine. “Who am I to pass judgment?” I asked him, making clear that we don’t have an editorial stance on any issue other than to allow all sides to discuss openly as long as they can do it civilly.

After a bit of shuffling of feet, he came to his real point. “I still have such a hard time opening up with other dudes,” he admitted. “There’s all this stuff going on in my life that I don’t know what to do but I’m afraid of sharing it because I think I will look stupid or get criticized.”

There it is, I thought. The yearning. Even in this 20-year-old brilliant kid. Especially in this 20-year-old brilliant kid.

“You can start online,” I told him. “It’s less threatening in a community like ours. But at the end of the day what changed me was sitting down with guys I trusted and spilling my guts.” 

###

For a response to Hugo Schwyzer’s piece criticizing this piece read: “Are Men Needy? No, Men are Good!”

 images http://www.stephensheffield.com/

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About Tom Matlack

Tom Matlack is the co-founder of The Good Men Project. He has a 18-year-old daughter and 16- and 7-year-old sons. His wife, Elena, is the love of his life. Follow him on Twitter @TMatlack.

Comments

  1. You seem like a man that is trying to defy all this end of men talk in some other way that writing it off as privileged whining or whatever some of those naysayers are calling it these days. You don’t have all the answers and you’re okay with that. You are trying to do your part and bring as much to the table as possible and that’s a good thing (especially the part about the SingSing prisoners, it’s good that you got your eyes opened in there because it’s not like people are chomping at the bit to listen to men in the first place much less men in prison).

    Fact of the matter is we are not facing the end of men, we are nearly on the dawn of a new ear of men.

    • It’s not an end of men, it’s a shift, but in the process there are A LOT of men suffering, a lot of boys who are falling behind. Education is pitiful for boys at the moment, they grow into men missing out on key education and continually fall behind. I don’t see men being celebrated all that much these days, it’s as if being proud to be a man is bad…

      • It’s not an end of men, it’s a shift, but in the process there are A LOT of men suffering, a lot of boys who are falling behind.
        I’d say that the suffering has been going on for a very long time and people just now seeing it (because I really can’t stand that line of thought that prefers to think that men were doing just fine until the 70s while thinking that women have been getting the short end of the stick since the beginning of time, which is basically fuel for the “but women have it worse” fire).

        Education is pitiful for boys at the moment, they grow into men missing out on key education and continually fall behind.
        Crucial point and one that I think is ignored. The boys that are lagging behind in education are ignored for the sake of pointing at the uneducated and directionless men that they will later and saying that their miseducation and misdirection are their own doing.

        I don’t see men being celebrated all that much these days, it’s as if being proud to be a man is bad…
        I don’t either but good luck trying to speak up about that. Too many people chomping at the bit to shout that down as denial of male privilege (and white privilege somehow gets toss in there somehow). I guess for folks like that there is only a narrow band of acceptable manhood and if one doesn’t fit that narrow band it is cause for ridicule and shaming.

  2. Gee I wonder why men aren’t very willing to open up about their sexuality in a feminist setting. Take a look at the porn comment threads recently, there are a few women there asking about male sexuality, men reply, then some of those women dismiss what the man says and will state exactly what men think about, how bad male sexuality can be and completely tell men their own experience. I’ve had very few interactions where women have actually listened to what I have to say about my own sexuality, very few indeed that don’t try to tell me what I think or read more into what I say than I truly mean. I only speak of it anonymously on this site in the hopes that it might help educate women who are curious of what my male mind thinks in regards to sex. I see this constant negativity surrounding male sexuality as spoken by many female commenter that to me truly looks like these women haven’t got the first clue to what men think. It’s pretty sad really the disconnect, I can’t tell you how many women I’ve known have mistaken a man wanting a lot of sex with a man ONLY wanting sex. The peak of the bullshit is reading women say men using women as body parts and just wanting to use them to get off when they look at porn, whilst a bunch of guys are talking about wanting to have sex WITH someone, share pleasure, etc. To be honest I’m not seeing much point in opening up about my sexuality considering just how many women are willing to misread my words and then demonize men over their sexuality, it’s like nothing we do is ever seen as pure, innocent, or decent. Just dirty degrading perverted creepy men we are…Who the hell wants to open up to people who will use what you say to demonize you?

    “(hint there Sarah, men that I know are more interested in love than sex but they get lost along the way).”
    Part of love IS sex, anything short of that is a platonic love.

    • I always appreciate your comments, Archy. I come to this site trying to understand men better. I’ve had a conflicted relationship with men in my life, starting with an emotionally abusive father, leading to poor relationship choices for many years (but that’s another, long story) and yes I went through a period of feeling very angry and cynical about men. At this point in my life I’m trying to develop a more understanding, nuanced and compassionate view of men. To get right down to it, it feels important to me to heal my anger at my father. I try to express that point of view in my comments (I.e. that I’m seeking to understand) although I may fall short at times as sme of these issues get very emotional. Please keep commenting!

      (p.s. not the Sarah that Tom is referring to in his article)

      • Tom Matlack says:

        If what we are doing here is helping you in some small way Sarah then we are on the right track.

      • Thank-you Sarah, I’m glad it helps. I don’t mind commenting if it helps. I had a time where I hated most women around my age, though any woman under 40 was a bitch n wanted to use me based on life experiences but it was through talking to women my age and getting to know them that I was able to let the hate go as surprise surprise I saw women were just as afraid of being used n hurt as I was, that we aren’t really all that different and assholes exist in both genders.

        It’s probably quite hard to understand men as we have been raised to keep quiet about very important matters, the only reason I can talk about this stuff is because it’s anonymous, the stuff I talk about with porn for instance is stuff I hide in my real life because to like porn is shameful, it’s like you admit being a failure in the dating scene and can’t find a date, you cop a lot of shaming over it as a loser that can’t get laid (both men n women do this). It’s a huge part of why men don’t speak up much on these issues, especially sex. Even talking about love feels weird, talking about romance still doesn’t feel as innocent or pure as when women talk about it. It can be extremely hard to admit weakness as well as so often men have to be the embodiment of a stoic, strong, silent type male who can’t speak up on grievances as that is “whinging”, we need to “man up” or “eat cement n harden the fuck up”, so those are more layers of protection to hiding our true thoughts. For the sensitive men out there, I’m sure many of them like me have tried to make a 20foot concrete wall around their heart to keep that brave n strong visage up. Even though we could be a torrent of feelings inside, you’ll only see my “neutral” poker face a lot of the time, I show very little of my real emotion as to do so would be to show yourself as weak in this silly society and that use to get me even more abuse n bullying.

        Finding out a males true feelings on a subject will be very hard, but I do think it’s getting more acceptable for men to talk about stuff n open up, which hopefully women will start to see men are not an invulnerable being that they could never hurt, but a being who bleeds just like they do when hit. Hell one of the best things for women to realize is plenty of men get abused badly, can be beaten up badly by women, that we aren’t god’s but merely human and our skin tears just as easy, our feelings get hurt just as easy (though you may not see it if he is good at hiding it). Another huge thing to realize is that women usually have a support group of friends n family they can open up to, men often go it solo and thus they suffer in silence, hence a big reason they’re 4x more likely to suicide and more likely to self-medicate via drugs n alcohol.

        The sheer amount of men suffering in silence is incredible, the only real indicator you might see of their pain is irritability, quick to anger, social withdrawl, which can be written off as just a grumpy person but really it could be a normally happy person suffering hugely from depression. I’ve been through it myself, I know what to look for and see it SOOOO damn often. Men who may look confident and even cocky (I’ve had people call me confident) could really be insecure n scared like I actually am.

        I feel there is a disconnection of understanding between the genders, hell even I find it hard to understand women at times and that saddens me a lot. Keep reading this site and you’ll be able to understand men better, I guess I could say don’t believe what you see on the surface with men or women, look at their actions, their character, some of the biggest misogynist assholes I’ve known for instance were actually just very scared and had a lot of pain, deep down desiring a special n loving woman but afraid that they weren’t worth enough to get her or that she wouldn’t ever be known to them. Pain can be undone as I’m sure you are finding out, the cynical pain you feel I can understand to some degree, getting to know great men is the key to letting go of that pain n anger and you’ll feel much better for it as I do. Life is too lonely to feel an entire gender is nothing but evil.

        • It’s been a while, but I just wanted to say that this was a beautiful post, it really made me think, and thank you for writing it and opening up.

  3. Christopher Young says:

    This took me by surprise – I read this article on Sunday, and posted a response (which I never do on the BBC), pretty much saying ‘where are men openly discussing these issues? Google The Good Men Project.’ I really hope she does.

    To be honest, finding GMP’s been a bit of a revelation for me, I get so much out of it. There are so many issues around the situation of men in society, that once all of this properly becomes and open dialogue (and I believe it will soon), then the whole ‘end of men’ thing will dissolve as a bit of old headline grabbing.

  4. Her [Sarah Dunant]key point is to call out men for their inability to speak on the topic of sex..

    it was a weird article, inspite of the headline it was an article about women, not about men. all s. dunant did, was talk about repeatedly about women.

  5. Thank you Lord! It’s not just me and a few of my friends in The Bahamas. Sometimes we feel so frustrated. If you complain about the problems of being a male to a male you’re weak. If you talk to a female about the problems of being a male, you’re whiny. If you talk about your needs in a relationship you’re shushed. If you talk about sex, well you’re a male and what else are you capable of talking about.
    Strangely, with male suicides eclipsing female suicides by almost 4 to 1, no one sees link the between these phenomena.

    Here is a link to a very short satirical piece I wrote almost a year ago and ask yourself if you’ve never felt the same way.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ls0uu8Pxzt7mME4rcDFJhG1gqfjbbc0NhHYoAbFulTI/edit

  6. Dear Tom,
    Thanks for laying it all out there yet again. I’m amazed by the process the Good Men Project is forcing all of us to go through, men and women alike. The process of seeing our ideas about life morph in the midst of a conversation that is more diverse, powerful, emotional and ultimately enlightening than I could have imagined possible. And I mean it. No shit.

  7. Wow…that was beautifully written!

    I just attended a baby shower for my karate sensei and his wife (who are expecting twin girls!)….he is the ultimate uber-macho, ultra-Italian-American and Republican guy….at the party he was all scotch and cigars and hanging out with the men, all bluster and anti- Obama…there he was the epitome of male strength…..and yet, I could feel that he was freaking out about the upcoming births, the costs, the sleepless nights, the future college tuitions, and such….My husband and I supported him in our own ways….my husband listened to all his wild and crazy college adventures while I assured him that I would offer my babysitting skills…

    The party started at noon and he was already inebriated and red-eyed….he was showing his party face and not the overwhelmed, irritable, frustrated guy that I see sometimes at karate practice….Perhaps it’s easier to talk about wild sex stories from your twenties than to talk about how you are going to support a growing family and all the unknowns….

    Thanks for growing this site…I think I am starting to understand him and my husband better….there is such a gap between men and women at a baby shower…the women all ooohing and aaahhhing about the presents, while the men talk about the deficit and the demise of Glass-Steagall…it was funny moving between the two rooms, …how different each group was…

  8. I, too, read GMP on a regular basis so that I can peer into the hearts and minds of men. I am grateful for the essays that illuminate the misunderstandings between genders, for the hilarity and general wit, for the latitude in personalities that write in as authors or commentators and most of all, for all the times GMP makes me remember that while we are fascinatingly different as men and women, we are also very much the same.

    Tom says: “Let’s start acknowledging that in 2012 men are suffering in all kinds of ways that include the very definition of what it means to be man in a world with quickly shifting sands economically and socially. And at its core that suffering is about a yearning that can only be filled by deeper connect with each other and with the women in our lives.”

    It is easy to ‘sell’ the disconnect, the differences. Conflict and drama sell. Every good storyteller, magazine editor and filmmaker know that. It’s time for the courage to call out those inflammatory differences and speak instead, the yearning which lies deeper – in both males and females, by the way. I sense that most women I know would cherish those conversations. They just need help with the words.

    I share all the GMP articles I read with my women friends and my daughters. A few days ago I read a piece by Ken Goldstein who asked his father on his 75th birthday what he believes to be the greatest one piece of change in his lifetime. His answer: tolerance. Tolerance for gender differences, ethnic and financial status differences.

    The internet as a tool in the hands of this younger generation has the potential to do both evil and good but I sense, from the young people I know and how they use social media, that they have a greater awareness and appreciation of each other, of humanity on a global scale than my generation ever did. We are all products of our parents histories, as are they. This generation, however, has in its hands a powerful tool of change and from what I can see, they are, on the whole, seeking ways to connect in a more meaningful way both with each other and with the girls/women in their lives.

    Thanks Tom, for keeping the door open to these conversations. I listen with greater width to the men in my life and led to greater understanding and appreciation of the complexities of being a man today.

    • Rachel Greer says:

      Carla,

      I couldn’t agree more that the generation coming up has a greater sense of global appreciation of one another. There was a great article on LearnVestDaily.com ‘Is Sharing the New Economy’ …worth the read. (http://www.learnvest.com/2012/08/is-sharing-the-new-economy/).

      We strive daily to be different, or better than our parents, not to fail where they have or to succeed where have not. Our goals are different and I look forward reading more.

      Rachel

      • Rachel,
        Thank-you! I just finished the linked piece and shared it on my FB site, too. I too sense that this next generation has more than a few magic tricks up their sleeves insofar as how to live in this beautiful new world. We could be so lucky as to pick up a few tips from them.
        I was reminded again of this with all the new online and FREE university courses being offered by schools such as Stanford and Harvard. Great classes, taught by great profs not for the proverbial piece of paper but a certificate of completion. A recognition by the younger set that it’s not the ‘thing’ that matters, it’s what’s going on inside, the essential value of knowledge and connection, the viability of knowing. Really being and living who they are. Knowing that the real test comes in application and use of acquired knowledge and I suspect in light of the massive ball and chaining student debt that kids are accruing that this ‘shared’ education, some of which have up to 16,000 online students, will drag slow to change brick and mortar institutions kicking and screaming into the future. And employers, too. They have the tools for change and I run as fast as I can to try to keep up.

  9. Laura Roberts says:

    The GMP has taken away some of the anxiety and fear I have been experiencing in the last few weeks thanks to certain politicians and the coming election. I get so tired of everything being made into a man’s issue or a woman’s issue. For a lot of people the only way they express what it means to be a man or a woman is by insulting and controlling the opposite gender. It’s all so frustrating and it gets us nowhere fast. Shouldn’t women becoming equal be about elevating their status in this world up to where men have been in the past? Shouldn’t we be able to do this in 2012 without it all being at the expense of men? Have we not learned anything about how bad things get when one gender sacrifices and suffers for the other to have power and control? Equality should be about us all having equal value as human beings, in the eyes of the law and every where else. Shouldn’t it be about each gender having the freedom to do what they weren’t allowed to do under the previous patriarchal system? Women should have equal rights and complete control over their bodies. Men should have the freedom to express their feelings without being called gay or weak, and they should be valued as parents. There are so many more ways we can allow each other to be free in ways we haven’t been in the past. Equality should be about communication and challenging each other to be the best we can be. I don’t want to have freedom and control at the expense of men, I want them standing there next to me knowing that we can move humanity forward together.

  10. Rachel Greer says:

    Well I officially feel like I’ve fallen through Alice’s rabbit hole, can you tell I fell upon GMP? Most of my closest friends are male and this is how I see them, to me this site is amazing. A common conversation with one good friend in particular is that he doesn’t understand why he can have ‘this’ kind of conversation with me and not with any of the guys, my answer is usually because he’s having a female conversation (I’ve already forwarded him a link to GMP). I wish men, including my husband, could have these conversations with us, with me. I’m glad to have found GMP and will certainly share; I know a lot of wives would also be interested in reading. I initially linked in through the “25 Things I Want My Sons To Know – Tom Matlack” article as it was highlighted on AOL News this morning. I think having these conversations between fathers and sons are critical. Not to sound feminist mom, but our daughters do as well. Our society is lacking publicly in the forum of moral turpitude, decorum and discretion. Anything we can do at home to teach our children how to love and be loved and to communicate openly benefits us as a whole. The age old adage, a man that treats his mother well will treat his wife and daughter well is absolutely true, I married one. I would imagine that if he could learn to communicate with other men on this level (friends/family) he would surely teach his son to as well. Keep up the good work men!

  11. Very nice piece. As a man who is an avid reader of The Good Men Project, this article inspired me greatly. I was raised by a very mach father who always said to me “Don’t Cry” or ‘Never let them see you sweat”or “Take it like a man”. I had this mindset until I read the book “The Myth of Male Power” by Warren Farrell. Then I read other books dealing with mens liberation like “Iron John” by Robert Bly and “Fire in the Belly” by Samuel Keen. Then I came upon the Good Men Project and was amazed. Here was a website that had articles dealing with mens emotions and topics such as gay men and straight men being friends.
    The Good Men Project for me s all about mens liberation.
    What am I yearning for as a man in 2012?
    I am yearning for love, connections with other men to express our feelings. I am yearning for meaning in my life. Why am I here?
    Samuel Keen in his book “Fire in the belly” and Robert Bly in his book “Iron John” encouraged men forming local “mens groups” or mens weekend retreats. This is where men can sit with other men and discuss fears,cry with each other without feeling less of a man.I have been in one group that met just once and it was great to see other men cry and express their hurts in life.
    Hopefully the Good Men Project will keep encouraging men to express their emotions, cry, andshow their sensitive side by writing beautiful articles like this one.
    I recognize women on this site and that is great that some women are encouraging men to show their sensitive side. I always thought women wanted men to hide their emotions so they could be the “steady calm protector” in the relationship if a crisis happened. It seems like in 2012 the Gender War is getting bigger with all the hate going on in with MRA”s and Feminsts.
    As much as Men need and must connect with other men emotionally, we men still need to connect with women. I am a construction worker in a very macho job but I and I am sure like other men just want to be held , mothered and nurtured by a woman when streesful situations in life occur.

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  13. Yeah, I hear all the time from women “I wish he would just open up and tell us what’s on his mind”. So, you take a leapof faith and say”what the hell” and go for it. Well, about 10-15 minuts into your “opening up”, you’re eithe told A) stop whining , B) That’s not th way it is and you don’ know what you’re talking about, or C) How could you be so thoughtless and cruel? So, you kick yourself in the ass for ‘ Taking the bait’ and revert to what you’ve bee told is the ‘Ideal’ type of man your whole life , ‘Strong and silent’

    • bobbt wrote Yeah, I hear all the time from women “I wish he would just open up and tell us what’s on his mind”. So, you take a leapof faith and say”what the hell” and go for it. Well, about 10-15 minuts into your “opening up”, you’re eithe told A) stop whining , B) That’s not th way it is and you don’ know what you’re talking about, or C) How could you be so thoughtless and cruel? So, you kick yourself in the ass for ‘ Taking the bait’ and revert to what you’ve bee told is the ‘Ideal’ type of man your whole life , ‘Strong and silent’

      bobbt that was an absolutely brilliant post. You nailed it.. As a man, I know what your saying. Women say they want men to open up with their feelings but when we do we are labeled a whiner or a wimp. I stated in a comment earlier I wrote that I was encouraged that some women are here at The Good Men Project and have expressed that they like when men open up with their feelings. I was encouraged because I always thought lie you that women prefer that men remain “strong and silent”, and not open up in case their is a crisis and they want the man in the relationship to be “the rock”. Perhaps your right, women do not want men to express their feelings in reality-they want “the rock” in a crisis.
      **This is why it is crucial to have local mens groups or all mens weekend retreats where men can cry and express their fears without women present. Men can just “let it all out” with other men. As far as online I am so glad we have an internet mens community like The Good Men Project where men can open up and express their feelings about various issues and connect with other men. While I appreciate the women who comment here on this site, I also sometimes wish no women would be allowed here in a way. The reason is I think men would be more honest and open with sharing their fears and weaknesses with each other if no women were allowed at The Good Men Project.Perhaps The Good Men Project could have some type of all male forum. Anyway, it’s all good.

      • When you hear “I wish you would just open up and tell me what’s on your mind”, it really means:

        “I want you to tell me that you feel exactly the same way I do. I need you to validate me.”

        That’s where the disconnect is, and why answering the actual question being asked is fraught with danger.

    • Yeah, I hear all the time from women “I wish he would just open up and tell us what’s on his mind”. So, you take a leapof faith and say”what the hell” and go for it. Well, about 10-15 minuts into your “opening up”, you’re eithe told A) stop whining , B) That’s not th way it is and you don’ know what you’re talking about, or C) How could you be so thoughtless and cruel? So, you kick yourself in the ass for ‘ Taking the bait’ and revert to what you’ve bee told is the ‘Ideal’ type of man your whole life , ‘Strong and silent’

      I think often times what happens here is this:

      Women aren’t prepared for what comes out. They might think they are, but the reality is, you may have a lifetime of stuff that is stored up waiting for release. The A, B, and C responses are pre-programmed into us, men and women both throughout our lives. It results in Women hearing a lot of things they might rather not hear, and don’t know how to process. All I can say is, it takes a Strong Man to say it, and a Strong Woman to hear it. Don’t surrender because the road is hard, and don’t let the women surrender either. I seem to recall a Pink Floyd song with Steven Hawkings voice saying “All we have to do………is keep talking.”

      • Pink Floyd also has a song, that most often I consider ‘My Anthem’ … Comfortably Numb! Seriously Alan, I think most women feel they know how you SHOULD think and feel about things and even if you don’t initally that they mold you to ‘think and feel properly’ and when you don’t, THAT”S what freaks them out! Many years ago as I was engaged to be married, I was somewhat concerned because 2 cousins of mine( females) who had been married about a year suddenly got divorced. That’s when my Dad said to me one of the wisest sayings I ever heard “Son, just remember, a woman takes a man feeling she’ll change him as she sees fit. A man takes a woman hoping she’ll never change. To some degree(how much is up to the 2 of you) they usually both end up dissapointed.

  14. man of marble says:

    I’v already tried to post a comment here, but………….

    Sarah Dunant cannot be reached except to critique her books (all the comments I saw were gushing enthusiasm). My comment to the BBC did not get printed, but the few that did tell the same story – so, given “filtering” (a BBC instinct, they call “balance”), I think all comments were similar; male life is lonely; women don’t really want to hear a male point of view; feminists jump on any such expression.

    I accept! It’s my evolutionary role to be expendable in protection of the young. But what I will not take is criticism from anyone unwilling to consider what that stance is like. I do it my way: no boys at the bar and silly competition games OR trying to be new man with nappies handy. I have my likes and dislikes and I never hurt old ladies or kittens. I prefer Cricket ( a one on one sport) and motorcycling (one alone). I do woodturning and art – my imagination and skill, alone; once, I used to do highly technical medical research. I accept the loneliness of all that. I will not be told, as we were for years, that we have the wrong “feelings”, only to be told, now, that I should express my feelings – only to be ambushed.

    Ladies: it’s your world. Run it better.

  15. Really great piece Tom, keep it up.

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    Saw Rosin being interviewed by Tucker Carlson. After all the info on how men aren’t doing as well as before, or as well as women, on and on, Carlson challenged her to oppose preference for women in SBA loans. Rosin was maddeningly evasive, to the point that she was clear as glass. She’s for preferences.
    Different take on her work, now.

  17. I visited multiple websites but the audio feature for audio songs existing at this site is truly fabulous.

  18. I ran across your photo of the man in the water and would love to use it as the cover art for a piece of music I recorded this morning that had as its theme “Yearning”. I don’t sell these pieces, I provide them free to my community as a “thank you”.

    Before I let them know about it, I wanted to make sure it was ok to use it. Please do let me know if it’s ok. I’ve provided you credit to your website on the page as well … you’ll see other examples in the column on the right hand side:

    http://www.mindbodyplan.com/mindbodyseries/wellnesscenter/gregorypalumbo/soulscape9/

    Have a terrific day :)

    • Lisa Hickey says:

      Hi, that photo was licensed by The Good Men Project from the original photographer, Stephen Sheffield. We do not own the rights to it. His website is stephensheffield.com if you would like to contact him directly.

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  1. [...] my most recent piece, “Male Yearning,” I tried to write about a particular panel discussion in which I participated and make some [...]

  2. [...] masculinização da dependência emocional não é mostrada somente em filmes e seriados. Em sua coluna mais recente, o fundador do Good Men Project, Tom Matlack, bate de frente com a tese do “Fim [...]

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