Boys will be Boys?

You know how boys are, they all say. If you didn’t need any more insight into the hypermasculine labels that males are expected to live up to, here’s another example. Here’s a list of what being a man is in a perspective of a young boy and exemplifies the problem of patriarchy, hypermasculinity and emotional suppression. Quite sad really. #ShowYourEmotion

A thank you to Paris Renee for recommending this video to Displays of Emotion.  

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Patriarchy

We have all grown up encompassed by images of masculinity in society and are frequently pressured to wear a mask.The thing is, it’s patriarchy that says men are stupid and monolithic and unchanging and incapable. The thing is, it’s patriarchy that says men are stupid and monolithic and unchaining and incapable. It’s patriarchy that says men have animalistic instincts and just can’t stop themselves from harassing and assaulting. It’s patriarchy that says men can only be attracted by certain qualities, can only have particular kinds of responses, can only experience the world in narrow ways.

Anonymous: The Silhouette of My Old Man

It’s baffling. The more stories that are submitted the more I realise that hypermasculinity and emotional suppression among males is truly a widespread and unanswered problem. This anonymous contributor has shared her story of how she sees her dad and she too, certainly does not appreciate the lack of emotions. 

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It wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I really knew my father.

It’s not that I didn’t have a father growing up. In fact, he was always present, a figure sitting on the couch watching the 7 o’clock news, walking through the door after work, pottering around the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon.

But while he may have been physically there, in so many other ways, my father was absent.

My father is very much a product of his time. Born in the 50’s, he had grown up with different ideas of what it meant to be a man. Stoic and reserved, he was often distant.

He showed little outward affection but I was reassured of his love through small gestures, an occasional pat on the head, a quick hug every now and then.

As the years went by though, he became more reclusive, drawing into himself and further away from his family.

He spoke very little and over time, the conversations grew smaller and smaller. While we made attempts to reach out to him, our efforts became more disheartened with every lack of response we received and they slowly subsided over the years.

He threw up a wall around him, one that even my mother, his wife, could not overcome.

On the rare occasion that he did express anything, it was often his displeasure, an angry outburst followed by a lot of tension.

It became stifling and incredibly exhausting to live in a household like that, unsure of how to behave, completely unnatural in a place where we should have been our most relaxed.

Not long after my 20th birthday, I had done something to trigger my father’s anger.

What I had done was trivial compared to the response it elicited.

I won’t go into detail of what my father had said or threatened me with, but suffice it to say, the words he hurled at me were things I never thought I would hear, most of all from my father, the one man I believed would never break my heart.

The following day, I was in my room when I heard the front door open, the click of the lock announcing my father’s return home from work.

Without a single moment’s pause, he dropped his bag at the door and came into my room and gave me the tightest embrace I have ever received from him, a constant stream of apologies issuing forth from him.

It wasn’t until a few moments later that I realised that the tears on my face were not solely my own.

As he cried, for the first time, I saw my father not as a parent but simply, as a man.

He had been dealing with his stress for so long, quietly, uncomplaining, because that was what society had taught him what a man should do, to just put your head down and get on with the job.

I saw how much he had sacrificed for the people he loved and how acutely he felt these things but never let on.

I saw a man who was burdened by a number of different pressures but kept his silence, only to have it all come bearing down on him at once.

In that moment, I realised that he was simply a man, a man who felt things, a man who should have felt comfortable enough to open up, if not to others, then at least to his own family.

For the first time, I really saw my father for who he was and I wasn’t angry or upset anymore.

I only wished he hadn’t shut us out because no one should ever have to go through anything alone.

If he thought he was showing courage by bottling his feelings as he kept trudging on, then he could not have been more wrong.

He showed true bravery and became more human in my eyes when he finally confronted everything that had been bothering him.

Since that day, his thoughts and emotions have been on clear display. He refuses to hide behind pretences any longer, having already lost so much time with his wife and children previously.

It took a hard lesson but I have never felt closer to my father before.

Growing up, he was always my father, a formidable figure, a parent. Now, he is no longer just my father, he is my dad more than ever.

#ShowYourEmotion

What Makes You A Man?

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 2.55.59 pmWe’ve been receiving quite a few stories lately and if they all tell us one thing, it’s that nothing positive comes out of bottling your emotions.

But lets take a break from all these personal stories and pose the question, what makes a man…a man? In a video that interviews several men on what they believe are qualities that make them a man, the answers are interesting but worrying.

Answers include:

  • I’ve never seen my dad cry, except for once in my life. But it freaked me out, I thought something was wrong. I thought a machine had shut down.
  • You bury emotion as much as you can until you physically can’t hold it anymore.
  • I was always belittled for any display of emotion
  • Don’t be afraid to back down from fights, don’t be afraid to pick fights.
  • If I could instil fear into others, then they would see me as a man.

These answers just exhibit the negative affects of hypermasculinity on males these days. The expectations to be a manly man is borderline ridiculous. There should be flexibility on the characteristics of what a man is and should be.

Bradley: My Dearest Dad

Bradley shares a glimpse into how life as a child was with a stoic dad. Was it beneficial to his childhood or not? Read his confronting yet compelling story to find out. 

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My dad has always been in his own world. He kept his words to a minimum, towards mum and myself. He didn’t like us any less; he just found his personality in the silence I guess you could say. He’d work on the house in silence, he wouldn’t as much as crack a slight smile when I told him a joke, and he never outwardly expressed his romantic side towards mum. As much as this made him, it was his ultimate downfall as well.

I remember one cold winters night. I heard my mother arguing with my dad ­– or should I say just lecturing him…it was very much one-sided. Her voice would grow louder and louder like a boiling kettle, yet I heard no retaliation from dad. I’m not sure what it was over, but it was serious. I crept downstairs careful not to intrude on their argument and peaked around the corner. There I saw dad’s face fiercely focusing his gaze away from his wife, his eyes scuffed together almost as if trying to retain his own emotions. Mum was lashing at him without mercy. I was afraid, I’ve never seen dad break but if he were to break, it’d be right that moment – there’s only as much a man can take before he too needs to let out his emotions. And let it out he did.

What came after was frightening to me as a child. He let out his anger, which equated to thunderous boom of words hurled back towards mum, each word growing louder than the one before, his eyes now intensely watery. Mum, obviously shocked at his outburst of emotions allowed him to let it all out. He continued though, relentlessly, going as far as to break a cabinet handle. I remember, crying myself at the sight…I was worried, I was speechless.

After the storm, had settled, dad was a new man. Frankly, in retrospect, mum allowing him to have that outburst did wonders for his mental state of mind. He immediately apologised with tears in his eyes (something I have never witnessed before, unless of course, he chopped onions). Even though he remains as stoic as ever, he knows when to talk it out with mum and show his effeminate qualities.

Father son 2 DOF

I personally learnt a lot from dad, it has been a perk to realise that he is a very stoic man. I didn’t want to be that sort of guy; I want to freely express my emotions at will. It’s quite a shame that society and the media penalise you for straying away from gender stereotypes and even go as far as to question your sexual orientation. But never mind that, it is invaluable to show your emotion as a guy – screw stereotypes and preconceived conceptions, those are for the suckers. The real men that live are the men that experience and express all the emotions in the world, like pure freedom.

But my dad…as different as I am to my dad, I still love him to this day.

#ShowYourEmotion

Jeffrey Cheung: Emotions & Europe

Jeffrey Cheung shares his amazing experience living and studying abroad across Europe and specifically, Rotterdam. His adventure came with its ups and downs but how did Jeffrey deal with his emotions while in a foreign country with newly-made friends? 

img_3832I still remember leaving for Europe as if it were yesterday. After an exhausting 24-hour flight, including a stopover in Dubai, I couldn’t wait to step out of the plane and get some fresh air. Despite I could barely open my eyes, I saw the surrounding skyscrapers were dwarfed by layers of clouds, and I finally arrived at Rotterdam Airport. Once I walked out from the airport, a blast of chilly winds speared through my head and prickled on my skin, so I rubbed my hands and said to myself, ‘Welkom op de Nederland. This is the country of freedom, so you can simply go wild while comfortably show your emotions’. This was how I embarked my six-month journey on this mysterious yet alluring continent.

Just an hour away from Amsterdam, Rotterdam is Holland’s secret cultural and architectural capital. During my stay there, I lived in a house of four guys. While we all enjoyed watching football games and drinking beers every now and then, we would never hold back when it came down to showing our thoughts, whether that was about someone who forgot to flush the toilet or a recent breakup with a girlfriend. Instead of locking ourselves in the room, the key to establish a healthy and open atmosphere in the house would be openly expressing ourselves by letting our feelings show. By explicitly showing our emotions, this is also a great bonding exercise for the roommates to consolidate the foundation of open communication, which will help create a happy living situation in the house. Meanwhile, pretending to be Mr. Tough Guy and puffing away your sorrows at the coffeeshop downstairs is definitely not a good option for dealing with the problems in life.

With so many countries in close proximity and cheap flight tickets on Ryanair, travelling in Europe was also a big part of my exchange session. By observing the everyday life of Europeans, the expressive culture of the region simply stems down to their sophisticated ways of expressing a full range of emotions. Strolling through the streets of Berlin, I could easily spot young street artists who shamelessly left their marks at various corners in the city while freely displaying their emotions by splashing colours on the building walls. In neighbouring France, the Parisian boulanger with a fringe of grey hair around the scalp was carrying a tray full of freshly made bread and he gave me the biggest smile when I looked into the store, probably he was really pleased with the outcome of those beautifully baked croissants and baguettes. Because of that, I gave him a sweet smile in return. Indeed, happiness is contagious and it spreads like wildfire.

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I have experienced a whirlwind of emotions during my European adventure – excitements, sadness, nerves, anxiety, but most of all it has been full of surprises. Although moving away from home was challenging, it has given me the space to grow a bit more while reflect on myself at the same time. After all, a so-called alpha male is still an ordinary person like you and me, and sometimes it is necessary to display emotions – just like any other normal human beings.

Looking at the Eiffel tower standing on my desk, I couldn’t help but drop a few tears on my keyboard. It has finally sunk in, and I realised how much I actually missed Europe.

If you would like to read more of his amazing experiences travelling abroad and his love for Australia, please follow Jeffrey’s blog Aussie Wanderlust at: 

https://www.facebook.com/aussiewanderlust

http://auswanderlusts.wordpress.com/

Masculinity in the Media

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There are many gender stereotypes within my chosen texts, for example the reality T.V show Geordie Shore heavily relies on the audience expectations of it’s stereotyped genders. In the first episode of Geordie Shore season one we meet the main cast of the show, the majority reinforce their stereotype, however some challenge it. For example three of the four main male characters Jay, James and Gaz, support the stereotype of the expected hypermasculine male. A hypermasculine male is the term used to describe a man who is sexualy promiscuous, aggressive, well built and tall, all signifiers of the iconographic codes expected to describe the stereotypical ‘man’. Reasons for this stereotype are based on the theory of ‘crisis of masculinity’. For example they are actualy very feminine, as seen from their iconographic feminine features such as their tan, hair and body wax so they have to make up for this by having muscles and being sexualy aggressive.

However, we should challenge this hypermasculine male stereotype by being more gender fluid, meaning that he shifts between genders depending on who is socialising with. For example we should be more emotionaly open when talking to the girls whereas when with the males (of whom he doesn’t fit in with) he tries to act more like them for social acceptance. As well as this he is not overly aggressive, is not as metrosexual and is the outcast of the group, not attributes of a stereotypical male.

The theory of a stereotypical hypermasculine male can also be seen in the first episode of American Horror Story season two. For example, the scene where Kit gets punched by the man in the Asylum reinforces this stereotype of the hypermasculine male as the iconographic codes for this character signify this based on his actions and appearance.

The X factor however challenge this stereotype by using more emotionaly open characters. For example instead of casting hypermasculine males, they cast the more metrosexual feminine type who have a depressing back story as the audience are more likely to vote for the polite, kind person over the big headed arrogant one. An example of this is James Arthur as they portrayed him as being a victim who has had a very tough background.

The representation of the matriarchal stereotypical woman is also apparent within the texts. For example the characters of Sharron Osbourne (X Factor), Sister Jude (American Horror Story) and in a way Vicky (Geordie Shore) from the way she comforts Gregg, all reinforce the behaviour of a stereotypical matriarch.

#ShowYourEmotion

Andrew: Paris Lights

When we got off the train, the air was soothing, more like spring than summer. The station was modern and bustling, but nothing stood out as familiar as of yet. The light was a muddled sheer golden with the looming clouds intruding the rays of sun. We stepped outside the train station to hail a taxi. Even in the fissures of sunlight, the architecture that lined the streets popped into gleaming sculptural shapes of grandeur. “Welcome,” we told ourselves in pure disbelief “to the city of lights and romance ­

– Paris.”

o-PARIS-900We had come to Paris, with the sun slowly setting in an economy-class Eurostar train that travelled at speeds that were dizzying at ground-level. That was at the end of a week stay in London, where a girl I had met stole my heart – whose [inner] beauty is unlike any other – and lingered in my every thought. Not only did Europe have me under its whimsical charm, but so did this breathtaking girl whom I was missing. As Martin Buber says “all journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware”; she was my unsuspecting destination. A destination that shone brighter than all the cities we visited across Europe.

Finally we hailed a taxi. The stereotypes of aggressive European drivers are true for the most part. The driver whizzed through the disorganised chaos of traffic, gesturing rudely at other drivers every few moment, whether right or wrong. As we clung onto dear life, the city grew into life. EveIMG_9163 bwrything was soft, the cobblestones in the street shone like stain, the edges of the aging architecture were rounded and worn, the lamplights aged and almost romantic. There was no immediate correlation to Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, but nonetheless the beauty of Paris was something of its own.

On our first full day in Paris, the sky was a deep, cloudless blue. But in spite of the flawless weather, our bodies were weak…products of the extreme partying across Europe. Despite this, we fit in every French activity that was possible to cram into a single full day. We consumed delicate escargots to flavoursome macaroons. Walked and shopped the Champs-Élysées under the summer sun. Climbed the Arc de Triomphe, where the view encompasses all of Paris, the skyline littered with famous landmarks: the Eiffel tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre Pyramid. The orange tinge of a concluding day nestled behind the elegance of the Eiffel Tower, as we lay sprawled on the grass staring in bliss.

It seemed impossible to us, that we could have ever felt such happiness in a place so foreign to us all. When reminiscing the events of the past month beneath Paris’ most iconic structure [and celebrating our friends birthday], it was to the equally joyful sounds of our laughter. On our last morning, we were enwrapped in love: with Paris, with Europe, with my small travelling family and with our adventure. As I sipped my last Parisian coffee in the allure of the city before boarding a train to the airport, I thought about everything I’d be missing once we leave Europe. I knew I’d be back soon, but there was something I missed more than Europe. A revered place where the sun always shines, the ocean breeze flows, the birds tweet and chirp, the city lights dance upon the harbour water, passer-by’s nod and smile. “Home”, I smiled to myself.

Share YOUR Emotional Story

Hey guys, just a quick update!

If you have any emotional stories, tales or experiences – whether this be romantic or somber – and you would like to share them in the name of showing your emotions, please submit them to us. We would love to hear all your stories and it may be published for everyone else to read, so fellas (or ladies), show your emotions and share your story!

http://bit.ly/1CE4MUc

Please use the form above to submit your story or alternatively, click on the “Share Your Story” tab on this website. If you would like to send a picture to go with your story, please send them straight to displaysofemotion@gmail.com 

Don’t be such a Mad Man

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AMC Mad Men’s Don Draper is the definition of an alpha-male figure – a male who exudes unequivocal confidence and carries himself with poise, dripping with smooth and suave sophistication. His emotionless presence demands attention and the utmost respect from his colleagues while magnetising women to his allure. He’s almost a reminder to men to become a man and even on paper, his masculine personality seems appealing and sought after. So this begs the question; does Mad Men depict an unattainable persona which sets unrealistic standards for its male viewers?

Although it does create a man of pure fiction, many fail to realise that Mad Men is at essence a cautionary tale depicting the consequences of emotional suppression among men. Viewers are presented with a fantasy: Don Draper is a successful advertising executive, sharply dressed, walks with a wallet fat enough to disregard the price tag of most material possessions and married to a jaw-dropping model of a wife. But a fantasy is a fantasy and they do not last. For Don, this means becoming an abusive and alcoholic man who seeks constant sex to deal with his anxiety problems.This compelling backdrop to Mad Men illustrates the price of buying into hypermasculinity in the media. It leads directly to a path of self-destruction and along the way, damaging the people you assume hold dear is inevitable.

Looking further into his character lays a withering man of fears and insecurities, the constant shadow of Don Draper. Dick Whitman is his name and where Draper is witty, charming, and confident and a leader, Whitman is weak, cowardly and insecure. It is almost as if Dick Whitman feels the compulsion to prove his manhood to others by wearing his Don Draper suit. His relentless pursuit to prove that he is a ‘real man’ with an identity that is unthreatened by the action of other men proves to be chronically hampering to his mental health. He is ultimately proving something that cannot be proved. It’s TV’s obsession with alpha males and while Don suppresses his emotions and psychological trauma he has experienced, Mad Men warns the audience of the repercussions through Don’s ontological pursuits.

Although not explicitly, Mad Men conveys that it is okay to cry, to talk about their pain and suffering otherwise you’ll end up like Don Draper – and not with his possessions but rather with his emotional and social instability. But not only is it a TV obsession, it is an impeccable representation of the 1960s where men were expected to be the providers of the family but at the same time, keep a stiff upper lip at all times. Their identities tied to their job which is why Don Draper lives and breathes advertising. Mad Men examines the way in which hypermasculinity is damaging to the men who are trapped by such narrowly defined gender roles and has the viewers questioning themselves: why does everyone want to be a Don Draper, but not Don Draper himself? His life as a so-called perfect man is really, not much of a life at all.

#ShowYourEmotion