Confession: I don't know much about men. I thought I did. After all, I grew up with them, I learned from them, I work with them, I care about and love them. But when I reflected on my understanding of men and masculinity, I have to admit that I know very little about them. Why do men struggle with expressing emotions? Why don't men talk to each other about their struggles and vulnerabilities? Why are men more aggressive than women? Do men have different needs in relationships than women? Why do men have a hard time acknowledging their power and privileges? Why do men shy away from talking about sexual harassment and sexual assault? In sum, why can't men be more like women?
I realized that I have been trying to understand men from my perspective as a woman, which has not gotten me very far. Recently I have been listening to podcasts and reading articles form men's perspectives that are helping me better understand the men in my life. The Women In-Depth Podcast had a wonderful episode titled "The Secrets Men Carry," which featured an interview with Jungian analyst Dr. James Hollis. Dr. Hollis provided some insight into men's experiences, which I briefly paraphrase below:
This podcast helped me develop much more empathy for men and their struggles. I do not have the answers to all of my questions about men and masculinity but I realized (this may seem really obvious) that I cannot try to understand men by comparing them against the standards and experiences of women. This is just a start on my journey to understanding men and masculinity as well as my own reactions to and relationships with men. Below are some excellent books on men and masculinity on my reading list.
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