Monday, 5 November 2012
Neither assumption is true of course. Women can be just as resilient and hard-headed as men, while all those tough-looking guys may be secretly shitting themselves and feeling totally out of their depth.
Nowadays with the spread of feminism it's a lot easier for women to drop the pretence of being helpless and incapable and make it clear they can deal with difficult situations just as well as men, if not better.
But I think it's far harder for men to shed the image of being thick-skinned and ready for anything. It's still seen as very weird if a man comes over all shaky and clueless and needy and wanting a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.
It's not only men who get embarrassed and scornful if other men cry or look helpless. A lot of women still find the sight of a weepy, floundering man disconcerting. It may be okay on the football pitch or at an awards ceremony, but in everyday life - definitely a bit of a no-no.
I certainly feel I have to maintain a fairly seamless facade of casual competence when I'm at work or in any public venue. There's no way I can collapse in a quivering heap pleading my gender frailties. My gender is still expected to be frailty-free.
Even in the protective intimacy of coupledom, women may still see a crying, crumbling man as a bit of a wimp rather than a vulnerable human being who needs sympathy and support. She's the one who keeps stumbling into psychic turmoil, and he's the strong, dependable one who's meant to ride to the rescue.
All I can say is, I regularly see tearful, distraught women. But when did I last see a tearful, distraught man? The fact is, I don't.
PS: From what I'm hearing now, I think this may be a generational thing. Younger guys are quite relaxed about crying and showing their emotions and weaknesses, while older guys are more likely to bottle it all up and put on an impervious exterior.