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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 0
20 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 0
In an ego-based world, we
tend to see everything from the
perspective of "me." So it's not
surprising that men and wo-men
want to be believe that the op-
posite sex exists to meet their
needs. Nothing shows this more
tellingly than the gender myths
that men and women perpetu-
ate about each other. Here are
just a few that women love to
repeat about men.
1. Men are not as sensitive
as women.
Can someone explain how
this can be? Everyone has seen
the sensitivity of crushed little
boys when faced with rejection
by other children, harsh words
from parents or the humilia-
tion of not being picked for the
baseball team. And who can
forget the timid face of the little
boy who is seeking a girl's at-
tention?
When does this sensitivity
magically evaporate? Is it at
12? Or 22? Or 85? Just because
boys learn to hide their sensitiv-
ity doesn't mean they don't suf-
fer from it. And just because a
young man goes marching off to
war doesn't mean that he doesn't
piss in his pants or crawl back as
a shell of his former self.
Why do women promote this
myth? Because it suits us to do
so. If we are more sensitive than
men, then we are justified in ex-
pecting that our relationship re-
volve around our feelings and
not the guy's. The deadliest
words in a woman's vocabulary
are, "But I told you
that if you did ....,
then I would feel....,"
which automatically
means the man has
to do what we want
because otherwise it
would upset us too
much.
Men, like women,
are insecure, des-
perate for valida-
tion, afraid of being
judged by peers and
burdened by gender expecta-
tions, including the burden of
believing they are not as sensi-
tive as women.
2. Women are stronger than
men.
Now this is funny. No sooner
have we announced that we are
more sensitive than men, then
we confide to each other that
we are stronger than men. We,
after all, bear the pain of child-
birth and put up with the stress
of screaming children, menstru-
ation, working in and out of the
home and many other burdens a
man could never tolerate.
Of course, their inability to
tolerate these burdens is cer-
tainly not caused by men's sen-
sitivity, because they have none;
no, their inability to tolerate
these burdens is because they
are weak.
Of course, we women bear
enormous stress and pain, but
so do men. Men traditionally
have borne the pain of bullying,
physical labor in construction,
mining and other tough fields,
brutalization by their fathers
(often, but not always, worse
than the abuse to daughters), not
to speak of war. And speaking
of war, there is no evidence that
women are less traumatized by
war than men. Nor are women
less traumatized by emotionally-
abusive parenting.
And speaking of emotional
abuse, men have traditionally
had to tolerate abusive bosses,
cut-throat competition in bus-
iness and the derision of other
men. And no less than men,
women can often be devastated
when a spouse leaves or when
a child becomes drug addict-
ed or shows signs
of mental illness or
dysfunction.
Why do we want
to believe men are
weaker? Because
that is a handy ex-
planation for their
avoidance, depres-
sion, alcoholism,
paralysis or acting
out. If we dismiss
them as weak, we
never need to try to
understand their sensitivities and
support them. Which leads us to
the next myth.
3. Women need more emo-
tional support than men do.
Well this one is true, isn't it?
Women talk on the phone, meet
in klatches, clearly seek emo-
tional support more often than
do men.
True, but does that mean that
women need support more than
men? Isn't it more likely that
women head for support, be-
cause it's a socially acceptable
myth that women are more sensi-
tive and so, therefore, need more
support? Isn't it their fear of look-
ing like women that causes men
to head into the bar instead of
to the support group? Don't men
lack the tools and structures that
give them the permission and the
means to get support, especially
from one another?
4. Men are more capable of
handling stress.
Another contradictory myth,
isn't it? We have just told our-
selves that we are stronger than
men, but when we don't want
to face something, we tell our-
selves they are more capable of
handling that particular stress.
That's because of our sensitivity
and our hormones. Since men
have no sensitivity or hormones,
I guess we will have to assume
that they were born with weaker
hearts.
Why else do they die younger
than we do and run to the track,
the bar or the brothel to seek es-
cape from the stress that is ex-
ploding within them from their
work, their belief that they
should be stronger than they are,
their role of protector and bread-
winner, which fewer and fewer
of them are capable of filling?
Yup, men are clearly more ca-
pable of hand-ling stress.
5. Men need sex; women
need intimacy.
Both men and women love
this shared myth, but it is an-
other fallacy. Men need sex, and
so do women, except when we
have been abused or repressed
out of our desire. Women gaggle
at good-looking men, and young
girls seek sex with adolescent
boys when our hormones are
raging. If women did not need
sex, there wouldn't be so many
unwanted pregnancies, and who
would all those heterosexual
sex-crazed men be having sex
with?
The myth that men do not
need intimacy is repeated by
women so we don't have to
examine why our men have
withdrawn emotionally, why
they might feel hurt or scared
or why they might be angry at
us because of our self-centered
attitudes.
Of course, men want inti-
macy as much as women, but
because men are not supposed
to be as sensitive as we are,
they pretend to themselves and
others that they only want sex,
and they run away from the im-
plication of weakness their need
for intimacy reveals.
Of course, there are equally
damaging myths that men have
about women, myths which are
also self-serving and justify men's
being abusive, exploitative and
dismissive of us. All of these
myths separate us and block us
from true intimacy. Wouldn't it
be more fun to give them up?
Beth Green is an intuitive coun-
selor, consultant, author, composer
and the founder of The Stream. She
is a columnist for San Diego News
Network, where this piece was first
printed, and is finishing her new
book, "Living with Reality," which
will be released early this year. She
will be leading a men's retreat called
"Men Getting Real with Men about
Sex," which will be held Sunday, Feb-
ruary 6. For more information, check
out www.thestream.org
Self-Serving Myths We Women Tell Ourselves
By Beth Green
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