Where are my dudes?

Okay, so I’m a “sensitive guy,” but still I ask, in this teeming planet of six billion plus humans, half of the male gender, “where are my dudes?”

A lot of men are rather unskilled and uncomfortable in talking about feelings, having feelings, or dealing with feelings.  This gets in the way of their relationships with women, and so they go hang with their guys from where desire women but often resent them even more.  In my view this ends up resulting in a lot of unhappy men.

Don’t get me wrong, I have really dear and feeling male friends—in LA and scattered around the country—and maybe I’m just being greedy for more male bonding and intimacy, but it’s my general experience of men, at least on planet earth, particularly in the US, that getting real about things like the meaning or purpose of life, much less delving into the depths of male feelings is pretty much a no man’s land.

Personally, I like to talk about feelings, dreams and ideas and I find that, with a little prodding, I can get most men to go there, but I also typically sense them squirm.  Partly it’s the fear that we’re leaving accepted male territory and this might make us somehow less than male; partly it’s that feelings mean uncharted territory, dangerous terrain where one might trip over some road-side bomb of feeling and end up with one’s emotions splattered all over the place.

I suppose I’m lucky to have fantastic gay, artist and fellow-shrink friends (some being all three), but as often as not I might be out with my guys and, just as conversation threatens to get real, it veers off toward goofy notions like, “we’re guys—we shouldn’t be sitting in this sort of place (i.e. a lovely café eating good food), we should be at the shooting range, or bowling, or at a strip club.”  I don’t really believe my friends would enjoy these things, but I know that I would not… well maybe bowling, but not because it’s a loud place where we can’t possibly talk about anything.

To me macho posturing is dispiriting because I like to talk, and think and share ideas.  I like to golf, and ski, and fish, and surf, and play tennis, etc. but when it comes down to really clicking with people, I seem to generally bond more easily with the typical woman than with the typical guy—probably because I find women to be man enough to know what they feel (as well as think) and are willing to put it out there.

Now when I talk to the guys I can talk to about this male feeling phobia they report that share my experience.  Guys will readily admit that other guys are generally worth crap when it comes to someone to sincerely talk to about what you actually feel, especially if how you feel is broken, sad, scared, lonely or confused.  Guys are great to get your mind off of things, to laugh with, get drunk with, fish with, play cards with… but we men generally live in an emotional ghetto, a constricted zone of blunted affect.  And I think it’s killing us guys.

I read a lot of parenting blogs and while there is a smattering of male voices, it’s mostly women, and mostly twenties and thirties moms at that.  Parenting is not a woman’s world any more than emotion is—but culturally both have become so—much to the disappointment of women and the alienation of men.  If a man is a good parent this is a noteworthy achievement, for a woman it’s expected (with a heaping of shame if one falls short);  “deadbeat dad” is a common phrase, “deadbeat mom” may certainly be out there, but not as a cliché-worthy phrase (probably for a good reason).

My point is not to bag on men, nor to rally them to emotion.  My appeal, however, is to the women who read this blog (and my sense is that my readers are much more estrogen-heavy than testosterone-laden); if we can deepen our understanding of men we can love them better, and in turn coax them out of their terrified woods where they hunker down with their wooden masks of masculinity.

And if you happen to be a male reader who is still in the closet with your sensitivities and your emotions, furtively reading these words with eyes wide shut, I do encourage you to take some risks—to dare to be the first and ask a good friend about how they’re really doing, or tell a friend how you actually feel about something.  Reveal a little vulnerability, consider relaxing on the seventh grade teasing, dare to put an arm around a friend.

I remember being in Rome as a young man and seeing older men strolling arm-in-arm down the road after diner, intimately talking and sharing friendship.  And I remember thinking how cool it would be if men in America were like that (and if American men dressed better while they were at it).

As a country we’re still in mid-adolescence, and so we’re not confident in our sexual identity.  Once, as a country, we grow clearer, I suspect it will be more acceptable for gays to marry, for example, as this will be less of a threat to the zeitgeist.

So, let’s dedicate today to loving the guys in our world, even if they’re shut down and afraid to show feelings.  Let’s take a pass on the easy sniping at the foibles of men, even though they can be hurtful as a result of their woundedness; instead let’s strive for compassion for all the guys who will never show up at this blog, but who will interact with the women (and the scattering of brave good men) who do show up here—understanding, loving and feeling­ our collective men… in the service of all our collective children.  Perhaps this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Namaste, Bruce

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5 Responses to “Where are my dudes?”

  1. BigLittleWolf Says:

    All for this! (And in that spirit, the gender-neutral dispensing of the Sugar Dolls, my friend… don’t forget – we’re waiting to hear 10 things we don’t know about you! Consider it an offering in the spirit of the dudes.)

  2. Mwa Says:

    I’m all for you idea as well, but I’m not sure it’s a male thing. Part of the reason I started my blog was because there wasn’t really an outlet for my feelings and thoughts with real life friends.

  3. Bev Says:

    Excellent post! My eyes just opened–why have I forwarded your site to my mom friends and not my dad friends? Especially, since my dad friends mostly fall into your “sensitive guy” description and have high emotional intelligence and would take your writing to heart and real introspection would occur that would benefit their lives and societies children.

    My husband started a tradition/weekly meeting for his guy friends called the “BBC” or beer booty call. Sure they meet at the local pub, drink beer and kabitz, but I also know that ‘real’ conversation also occurs and that many a personal issue, emotions and life stressors are worked through. A high level of trust exists. And while they may not leave the pub arm in arm, they do hug!!

  4. Jack Says:

    I have a lot of male friends that I can have real conversations with. While it is true that some men find it difficult, I know quite a few who don’t.

    I have also found that friends I have met through blogging are able to have those deep discussions with too. I think that blogging has helped to make that possible by accelerating the exchange of real information between us.

  5. Touching « Privilegeofparenting’s Blog Says:

    […] By privilegeofparenting A good, and widely traveled, friend emailed me in response to “Where are my dudes?” to concur that in other cultures affection amongst friends, men as well as women, is more […]

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