Myth: Men shouldn’t show emotion.
Starting around the age of eight, people squash any sign of feminine traits in young boys, says Joe Kort, PhD, a psychotherapist in Michigan — that includes showing their emotions. “By the time he grows up to be a man, he doesn’t know how to deal with emotion,” Dr. Kort says. “He only has access to his feelings through sports, sex, violence, and work.”
There is one emotion men are allowed to have, however, says Kait Scalisi, MPH, a sex educator and speaker, and that’s anger. “Men turn all their feelings — sadness, disappointment, rejection — into anger, and then that anger turns into violence,” she says. “How often do we hear jokes about the differences between how men and women deal with conflicts in their friendships? Men just punch it out and then they’re over it, while women analyze it to death.”
Refusing to allow young boys to show emotion stunts their ability to be vulnerable when they grow up, Dr. Kort says, and makes them ill-equipped for conversations in which they have to share their feelings, including conversations about sex.
“We need to be mindful of how we engage with boys, teaching them both how to accept ‘no’ gracefully — that acceptance doesn’t mean weakness, but is actually a form of strength — and making it okay for them to feel all of their feelings,” Scalisi says.