Men and Emotion

Posted on June 24, 2016 by

An excerpt:

“Anger—fearful anger, aggressive anger, snarky anger, all of them—are such high-status emotions in toxic masculine culture that they are hardly considered emotions. They are almost assets in competition. I don’t mean their actual practical use on the battlefield or on a professional sports arena, where most men will never step, but something as banal as conversation.

Mansplaining does exist, absolutely, but have you have heard macho men talk to each other? The toxic masculine culture of one-upmanship, of escalation and competition even in conversation is markedly different from how I talk to my girlfriends on girls night, which often turns into rounds of listening to each other and offering support or ideas. The condescending and argumentative “actually” tactic of mansplaining has its roots, I suspect, in how many men routinely verbally compete with each other, not how they view women. I watch it unfold in my classroom daily. My male students “actually” each other constantly, on topics ranging from politics to video games. In fact, in a world of reddit subthreads and heated online comment debates it may be the central mode of competition among men at this point, dueling now no longer a respectable option.”

Thought-provoking and seems to me to be SPOT ON!


I teach at a university that was, up until recently, a polytechnical college before it was eaten up by a larger state school. That means on a daily basis, I work primarily with men. In a typical writing or literature class that I teach, there are often only one or two women, sometimes none.

And I’m working with men at, what is for most of them, the most vulnerable and emotional period of their lives—18-24, full of raging hormones, struggling through school while facing a lukewarm job market at best, the squeeze of competition rougher than ever as more and more people exactly like them fill college classrooms, with scarce dating prospects for the straight ones on campus, while the authority figures in the liberal arts classes (which are already approached with distrust and distain) are more and more often women like me.

I see a lot of feelings in…

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