CNN shocker: women responsible for men’s feelings

Thanks to some serious investigative journalism, CNN has unearthed the surprising truth: women have the power to hurt men’s feelings. Men worldwide have been stunned but comforted by this news. Said Jim Tunafish of Newark, NJ: “I’m relieved. I wasn’t sure who was responsible for the feelings I secretly have but swear I don’t, but I knew it couldn’t be me. How can I be responsible for something I deny exists? I’ll sleep better knowing it’s all my wife’s fault.”

Women, meanwhile, didn’t see what all the fuss was about. “Same shit, different day,” said Amanda3PXk4289 on her Twitter account in response to the article.

Okay, that’s it for my inner Onion reporter, but honestly, this CNN article belongs in the Onion. There’s so much to unpack, it’s hard to pick a starting point. The article is about how men actually do have feelings and women actually have the power to hurt them because men invest a lot in what their mothers think of them early on, and then later transfer that to caring what their mates think of them. This is why I read the article: male self-esteem is an interesting issue, and as a very broad, general truism, I think there’s something to that idea.

But the article puts all the responsibility on women to be sensitive to feelings that may or may not exist (or may or may not be the ones we suspect are being felt) behind the brick wall facade so many men present us. There’s a lot of cultural bullshit and plenty of blame to go around. Let’s not heap it all on the women, shall we?

The culture we all live in teaches everyone that men don’t have any feelings, and even if they did, they wouldn’t give a shit what silly ol’ women think. It’s not surprising that both men and women are confused about whether men actually have any feelings. Many men swear they don’t, or at least that they don’t have the same range of feelings as women; they really believe this. (This, incidentally, is why women are sometimes slow to recognize they’re dating sociopaths: they  assume the men have just hidden their feelings really deep, when it’s actually the bodies they’ve hidden really deep.) So men: those of you who would temporarily unravel if a therapist managed to tweeze a recognizable human feeling out of you, I’m afraid you have no business expecting your dates to detect your feelings. Your feelings are not relics buried where we can find them with sonar, okay? (I mean, you shouldn’t even want a partner to do that, because you know who’s really good at reading hidden feelings? Scary-ass manipulators.)

But it gets worse.

After all this, this very same article about women needing to be nicer to men has the gall to mention as an afterthought: “That’s why when a woman bares her soul by disclosing her feelings, a man often doesn’t recognize that as significant. He’s been socialized to discount feelings.”

Whoa, what? Men dismiss women’s feelings. The article acknowledges this, even explains it, but doesn’t see an opportunity for reciprocity here, i.e., maybe men who want women to realize they have feelings even though they haven’t discovered them yet themselves should, at the very least, learn to take women’s clearly expressed feelings seriously. The article seems, in chilling earnestness, to be saying that in exchange for having our feelings dismissed, women should really focus harder on coddling men’s feelings.

Moments like these make me think we’ve made zero progress since about 1952.

Sure, men deserve to be thought of as emotional people who can be hurt. But women also deserve to be thought of the same way, and dismissing our feelings as irrelevant, unimportant or overwrought is not thinking of us emotional people who can be hurt. Male self-esteem is an interesting issue that deserves more focus – not just because men with esteem problems deserve better, but because society has relentlessly concern-trolled the issue of female self-esteem for decades now to reinforce the myth that women are mostly just emotional disaster areas. This topic could have been an opportunity to talk about how men could be happier if they got in touch with their feelings instead of running away from them, but instead, it’s just one more shovelful on the heap of women being completely responsible for everything men do, think or feel.


  1. Mel says

    I think the best part of the article is the spellcheck fail:

    So his roommate finally says with a grin, “The next time you leave your pajamas out, I’m gonad burn ‘elm in the backyard.”

    Also, seriously, they suggest vandalism as a non-ego-bruising form of communication?! What. (No one likes the dude who burns people’s stuff. I knew a woman in college whose roommate threatened to burn her clothes on the lawn if she didn’t move out Right Now. No one liked HER much, either.)

    I’m not sure why they think only women try to change men. I don’t know what kind of couples he sees in counseling, but I’m pretty sure most competent therapists would tell you it goes all ways. People in relationships try to change each other.

    • says

      I also love the advice to burn the guy’s pajamas instead of talking. In reality land, where we all live, when a woman does something like that, she gets compared to the woman in Fatal Attraction and branded a psycho. This guy is swimming in male privilege, too stupid to know it AND a psychologist. That’s why it’s essential to research psychologists before choosing one.

      None of the techniques he suggests will be effective are how happy couples I know get along. He’s only seeing dysfunctional couples, and then speculating about what might work for them. He might want to try some couples that actually have good communication. It happens.

      • Anne says

        Furthermore, to destroy property is a crime. Just an FYI. A friend and her boyfriend had a fight, he was drunk–he never laid a hand on her, but he destroyed some of her sheets, and as people were scared at what could happen (i.e. he was insisting she give him his car keys, though he was totally trashed–not scared of being hurt physically), the cops were called actually to call his bluff. They arrested him because it was policy if, during a domestic dispute, property was destroyed or anyone was hurt.

        So…any advice to destroy someone elses property, no matter your relationship to them, should probably not be followed–and I’m gonna go ahead and say that’s whether or not it’s during an argument. Beyond being labeled a psycho, that piece of advice is just plain illegal!

      • Scarlett says

        As an aside, I always had far more sympathy for Glenn Close’s character in that movie than Michael Douglas’s. OK, so making rabbit stew with the family pet isn’t cool, but, um, neither is a married man having a fling and then assuming she’ll have an abortion ‘cos it’s an inconvenience to him for her NOT to.

        • Casey says

          Yeah (even though what happened to the bunny was FUCKED UP), I liked Glenn Close’s character A LOT and I have a tremendous fondness for “psychotic” female characters…I also like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni a lot because of that. 😛

          • Scarlett says

            Yeah, and meanwhile MD’s character is all ‘you cheat on your gorgeous, loyal wife with a woman who gets rather pissed off when you run back to her and insist she has an abortion, and you get my sympathy WHY?’

  2. DragonLord says

    1) Inform women that men actually have feelings
    2) Inform Men that they actually have feelings
    3) Inform Men that it’s OK that women express their feelings
    4) ????
    5) Profit

    Seriously, I realise that the first step in making a whole human being out of most men is to get them in touch with their feelings, but where’s the realisation that this really is only the first step?

    • says

      I don’t even see any sign that psychologist is getting beyond your step 1, which is simply informing women men have feelings. His advice feels more to me like “how to manipulate men without them knowing it” than “how to improve honest communication so everyone’s speaking the same language.”

    • The Other Patrick says

      The article is more like

      1) Inform women that men have feelings
      2) Inform women that it’s wrong to hurt men’s feelings
      3) Inform women that men can’t help hurting women’s feelings.

  3. says

    Human beings come in male, female, asexual, bisexual, and many steps in between.
    Human beings are emotional creatures with thoughts and feelings.
    Human beings should work on valuing each other
    Human beings should work on learning how to successfully communicate with each other.
    Human beings should be honest with themselves and with each other.

    I have now solved all the problems of humanity. Gimme my psychology degree and cushy job, I’m obviously more deserving of them than this moron.

  4. DM says

    A woman often marries a man for his potential. If women married men for who they actually were, there would be far fewer marriages.

    We desperately need far fewer marriages.

    • Patrick McGraw says

      Very much yes. I’m all for getting married, but the cultural norm that everyone should be married is horrible. There are some people, like myself, who are all for being married, but there are also plenty of people for whom marriage just isn’t a workable life choice.

      (I also disagree with those who want to see marriage abolished altogether, for the same reasons, but they don’t have the weight of society behind them like the “marriage is for everyone” crowd.)

      • Scarlett says

        Well, I certainly see the benefits in upping the marriage age to, say, 25. But yeah, I’d definitely love to see a culture where marriage is for some but not for others, and everyone – or at least the vast majority – gets that.

      • says

        This is exactly how I feel – marriage is fine, but it shouldn’t be a norm, or a standard by which everyone is judged. “Oh, you’ve never been married? Hmmmm!” “Oh, your marriage failed? Hmmmm!” None of these things mean what people think they mean.

        (I don’t care to abolish marriage, either, but I do think we could lose the legal form of it and just make it a civil custom people can engage in as they see fit. Then we could make it a little easier for people to do things like change names, grant a loved one the right to make medical decisions, etc., that marriage used to provide automatically. And those rights would no longer be available just to hetero couples, but to gays, polyamorous groups, BFF, whatever. I’m just a big fan of government backing off and letting people run their own lives as they see fit.)

        • Patrick McGraw says

          At the very least, I’d love to find some way of separating the religious institution of marriage from the civic institution. That would take a lot of the weight away from the religious groups who try to argue that their form of marriage needs to be its legal form.

          Included in this, obviously, would be removing the ability of clergy to perform legally binding marriages. Go ahead and get married within your faith, but you still need to pay a visit to the government if you want to be legally married. My faith (Quakers, who have no clergy) have gotten along just fine like that.

          (It follows, of course, that this would enable same-sex marriage across the board.)

        • Scarlett says

          Yeah, I’d love to see some kind of legal union which grants the same legal rights that spouses currently have – medical decisions etc, that everyone is entitled to regardless of the state of your relationship, and leave marriage as a purely
          religious ceromony like baptism that the churches can excercise as they see fit without excluding non-hetero, monogomous couples from the same legal rights. So Mr. And Mrs. Super!CHristian can say ‘I’m married in the eyes of God’ but they still need to get a legal union to have the same legal benefits married couples CURRENTLY have, and EVERYONE can apply for that legal union

  5. Sabrina says

    This article reads like an analysis of every cliché romcom couple ever.
    Sloppy man who needs a woman as mommy surrogate? Check.
    Nagging woman that just wants to change him? Check.
    Couple bickers about how she is too bitchy and he is too irresponsible? Check.
    ‘Men are from Mars and women are from Venus’ concept? Check.
    Making the woman comfort his ego to get a happy end? Check.

    The thing that this is coming from a guy who’s counselling men for 3 decades now is really depressing – but maybe that just because of the interview? In any case those are not really news to anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock and it is certainly not a “closely guarded secret”. The media (as in movies, TV, pseudo scientists, magazines, what have you) were all telling us the same damn thing since… Idk… forever!? Women are like this, men are like that… yadda yadda yadda.

    If anything this article reinforces negative stereotypes and confirms my personal notion that this kind of behaviour is not healthy. at. all. After all men who don’t have the kind of mommy issues described in the article and are embracing their feelings apparently don’t show up at Mr. Carter’s door for therapy.

  6. M.C. says

    Sometimes I feel like living in a completely different world than anybody else…
    Do people really think that men don’t have feelings? Because I’ve dated so many guys who were just whiny bitches, who couldn’t shut up about their daddy issues. And then I’ve also dated girls who’ve been to hell and back but you wouldn’t know because they like talking about their favourite bands…

    • Casey says

      I think that whole “men as whiny bitches” and “girls who don’t give a fuck” is because due to patriarchal constraints, men tend to dump all their emotional problems on their significant others (because sharing their feelings with friends is “FAGGOTY!”), whereas women more often than not have a strong support system of friends and family upon whom they can rely, so they don’t end up burdening their boyfriend/girlfriend/whomever with TEH WANGSTY ISSUEZ~!!1

      Just how I see it, at least. 😛

      • Maria says

        That, and I think some women are strongly socialized to NOT talk about their feelings, because that’s manipulative/girly.

        • Casey says

          That’s also how I personally feel/has been my personal experience. Actually, for me it’s combination of “I don’t want to come off as needy”, “I don’t want to burden someone by venting to them all these FEELINGZZ~!!1one” and “I don’t give a shit about what other people have to say/feel, so why should they give a shit about me? Fair’s fair” (so to speak :P).

        • Lampdevil says

          O HAI! Is this the thread for ladies that got the impression that being “girly” was a badbadbadawful thing? I’ve found my home, I have!

          Too much cultural scuzz about bad naggy/emotional women messed me up for a while, it did.

          • says

            *hands Lampdevil an official membership package*

            It’s actually kind of interesting how many ways there are to get this idea:

            –From a woman who cares about you, who’s had to be very stoic to get through life, and honestly thinks she’s equipping you as best she can for getting through yours by chastising you whenever you get “too” emotional.
            –From hearing about how women who talk about their emotions are just out to manipulate people the way women do, yeah, uh-huh.
            –From actually dealing with manipulative/abusive women who use emotional ploys to control people. Particularly if you grow up around someone like this during your formative years, you can form the impression that female emotions are toxic.

          • Cinnabar says

            Ooh ohh! Those last two for me too! Coupled with a healthy dose of humiliation and manipulation from an abusive, toxic “friendship” that lasted pretty much ALL my emotionally formative years and practically *stunted* me. (I’m only now beginning to unravel how deep this goes so I can heal.)

            I so clearly remember the first time I felt I could really feel emotion freely. It was like… getting to touch silk for the first time after years of having nothing but sandpaper rubbed against your skin.

            A lot of times I think that people who have been able to feel their own emotions more freely since childhood have more *practice* dealing with them effectively than I do. I wonder just how much I missed, and just how developmentally stunted I might be. Doesn’t help that I’m over-analytical, so the who’s and why’s and what-if’s pretty much spiral out of control when I start to think about them.

      • says

        You are talking of *extrovert* women, of course. There are women, and plenty of them, who don’t have that vaunted wide network of other women to bitch about their lives and moan and groan about their relationships. You know? I really hate when that “strong support system” comes up time and again when explaining women’s talking out of their feelings to other women. It’s a stereotype.

        • Anne says

          But it’s also a stereotype of introverts that we HAVE no support structure or friends simply because we may prefer alone time, or need it. I have a very good support structure, and I am introverted. I just don’t fall into the stereotype of “let’s go partay!” “let’s get coffee every day!” “let’s chat!” (I HATE small talk–worst talking EVER.)

          I’m not saying you’re not right, and being an introvert certainly can make that support structure more difficult to find (and it doesn’t hurt that I was always supported in my feelings and whatnot by my family and friends–with a few exceptions–so my ability to find and have a structure is definitely going to be easier than other introverts in different situations). But there isn’t really a dichotomy between extrovert and introvert as much as there is a spectrum of circumstances.

          /end being semantical and nitpicky :)

          • Casey says

            Yeah, I wanted to apologize but I was just making a (gross?) generalization…and this is coming from an introvert with only three REALLY good friends.

          • says

            I’d like to point out I never said that introverted women (or men/people in general) don’t HAVE support networks at all; I was pointing out that women don’t corner the market on wide gabby friendship networks, nor do [all/most] women covet that sort of network or are capable of forming that sort of friendship network.

          • Anne says

            @Gategrrl: sorry, it seemed implied when you singled out extroverted women. It played into this issue I’ve been trying to counter in my own life in which I’m somehow a friendless antisocial hater just because I don’t enjoy going out all the time with huge swaths of friends. So I may have seemed like I was arguing against you, versus that more generalization that I’ve been running across.

          • Patrick McGraw says

            Indeed. I can happily spend days at a time focusing on something alone (right now it’s developing an Avatar: The Last Airbender RPG using the Star Wars Saga Edition), but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to go play it with my friends.

          • says

            Gategrrl, it sounded like we were picking on you, and that’s certainly not what I meant. It’s definitely true that being introverted puts people at a general disadvantage in a society where you’re expected to network, and “it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

          • Anne says

            Gah, and then my sorry sounded like one of those false sorrys where you say “I’m sorry you feel that way” since I only used a comma not a period. I meant to say that I was sorry that my comment was more accusatory and singling YOU out than I intended. :) So…I’m sorry!

        • says

          That’s a good catch, Gategrrl, and I don’t even think it’s just about extroversion. I mean, who do you think socialized me not to talk about my feelings because it was manipulative/girly? The very women who were supposed to be my support network – friends and family. And they weren’t all being assholes – many of them, for various reasons, thought they were equipping me to get through life the best way they knew how.

          And you know what? For the first 20+ years, they were right: cutting off my feelings much the way men do was a great defense against all the shit I was dealing with.

          And this is yet another one of those issues where men get judged unfairly, but women get judged unfairly in both directions. Women who talk about their feelings are suspected of being manipulative. Women who don’t are suspected of being sociopaths. Or, put another way, women with feelings are suspected of being typical women, which is of course a hideous, conniving thing to be. Women without overt feelings are suspected of being the MOST hideous and conniving sort of women.

  7. The Fleas' Knees says

    Yes, we all have feelings, and we can all have our feelings hurt. But that’s not always a bad thing. I was raised to be so overly concerned with pleasing other people and not hurting anyone’s feelings that I had absolutely no concern for myself. I’d submit to other people’s whims and desires, and would let them get away with all sorts of manipulative, bossy, overbearing, rude, and inappropriate behaviour. It would have been much better for me to speak up and call out their behaviour rather than allowing them to continue. Fear of hurting someone’s feelings is the achilles’ heel for many women, and this article practically tells them off if they for a minute think of themselves rather than of someone else. We don’t need any more pressure to remain as doormats!

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