This is the 2nd in my series of myth busting blogs. We’re making great headway in the world of mental health awareness but people are holding onto some unhelpful untruths. I’m doing my bit to explain why these myths are untrue or unhelpful!
If the word feminine is used correctly, i.e. as an archetype describing behaviour historically seen in females, then this sentence (men need to get in touch with their feminine side to show their emotions) is true. Females have historically been more able to express and share their emotions.
However, this sentence is unhelpful when the word feminine is used synonymously with the word female, as it often is.
It is the labelling I feel is unhelpful rather than the sentiments of the sentence!
Other unhelpful words include ‘manly’ or ‘man-up’.
Why do we say it’s manly for someone to manage difficult emotions by keeping them inside themselves?! Bottling up emotions just means the come out in unhealthy, sometimes dangerous ways. Not talking about emotions leads people to be violent, towards objects, others or themselves, and it can even lead to suicide.
The number one killer of men aged 20-49 is suicide.
It has been proven that it is healthy and helpful for people of either gender, or none, to talk about their emotions. This study shows having the language to describe emotions so we can verbalize what’s going on is vital for making emotions less intense and more bearable.
Women may, on the whole, be more likely to share and talk about their emotions but I think it’s unhelpful to label men who do something normal and healthy as’ feminine’. Expressing emotions does not make anyone more or less a man and labelling it may mean men are less likely to do it!
As we fight for gender equality, this goes both ways. Yes, women may want more recognition, equal pay and for their voice to be heard but I think boys and men need to be treated equally regarding emotions, everyone should be enabled to put emotions into words and talk about how they feel.
The World Health Organisation has found that:
What’s more, mindfulness, where we observe thoughts or feelings, label them and let them go, has been shown to decrease the response in the amygdala or alarm centre, therefore decrease the negative effects of some feeling (e.g. anger). Mindfulness is not just for people who are mentally ill, anyone (of either or no gender) can benefit.