I know this isn’t the first time I’ve said it, but I love a bit of Twitter. Not only do you get to see some top-drawer shenanigans go on, but you also occasionally stumble onto some viewpoints which you would never normally be exposed to. Such a thing happened recently, when I found myself involved in a thread about why men shouldn’t blog about dating and sex.
The person who had these views believed that it was creepy for men to blog about these things, and real men should bottle up their emotions deep inside. That’s her opinion, and whilst I find it archaic, wrong and dangerous, she’s entitled to have it. After all, some people are of the belief that John Bishop is funny, soap operas are worth watching or crocs are acceptable footwear for an adult. They’re all wrong, but entitled to their opinions. (No-one, however, is allowed to like Mrs Brown’s Boys, am I clear?)
I can understand where she is coming from on an intellectual level. Some women and many men truly believe that emotions are a feminine trait. The only emotions men should feel are anger, lust and happiness. Men should internalise their issues and hide them away because real men just man the fuck up and deal with shit. If it can’t be fought physically then it’s probably not worth fighting.
(As an aside, and I have no proof of this at all, but I wonder how many of those women also believe that women should look to stay at home, have kids and let the man go out and earn the money? How many see men as their protectors and providers, and who would dress their daughters in pink and their sons in blue, and never the other way around?)
For me, that viewpoint is abhorrent. Men are human beings. For the first time in human history, we are being told that we don’t have to conform to these norms anymore, the same norms which have ruled most societies for thousands of years. Women can and are independent leaders, more than capable of doing what men can do, so the same must be true of men as well. We have far too long a way to go in terms of true equality between the genders, but it cannot and must not all be one way.
Men MUST get better at sharing their thoughts and experiences. Male suicide is the single biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45 in the UK. That’s staggering. And what links so many of these suicides is that they were unable to process their emotions, to deal with their lives and to grow and get through things. Men not talking, whether it’s to other men, to women or simply to the void that is the internet, is killing our brothers, our fathers and our sons. That shit isn’t right.
Talking helps. Sharing helps. It helps you realise that you’re not alone, that there are other people going through what you’re going through and who have help to offer, even if that help is simply an open ear. When my marriage ended in spectacular fashion I felt lost, alone and panicked. It was only by talking to my friends and my family that I got through it, and through writing this blog that I built the skills needed to start a new chapter of my life.
I’ve not cracked things, of course, and still have rough days and weeks, but sharing and writing about emotions and experiences helps more than even I realise. There’s also the chance that me sharing my thoughts and tales with an audience might – just might – help someone else on their own journey. It might help a woman who doesn’t understand what men are thinking about when they date her, or perhaps a guy at the start of a divorce, or a single parent who thinks they’re at the end of their tether. I don’t write for them, I write for me, but it’s there for them if they need it and I need never know it helped.
Dating blogs written by women are, by many factors, more common than those written by men. Statistically there are roughly as many single men as women; that’s an audience woefully underserved by writers who understand them on a fundamental level. Dating is something that many men do and are interested in – what use if all the dating writers were female? They may and do write excellent content, but it will always be from a female perspective rather than one they may relate to even more easily.
Knowing that other men go through the same hopes, the same fears and the same experiences as them may well ensure they don’t feel so alone and may help them be better daters as a result. Knowing how not to do something, or things that work well on a date will mean everyone wins, men and women. As long as no-one is named and shamed (which should be the case whichever toilet the author uses in a pub), life will be better for sharing.
So no, I’m not going to feel like I shouldn’t be writing because it makes me appear feminine. Not only do I not believe that to be the case, I actually wouldn’t care even if it did. Because I’m a single man, a dad to four and I’ve got shit to share with the world, whether the world cares or not.
I’m going nowhere.