There’s a general feeling among women that the male half of the planet don’t show their emotions and are calculating rather than candid. Th is is 87 per cent wrong.
The American psychologist Robert Plutchik developed a wheel as a model to describe all the human sentiments. Among the emotions on the wheel are surprise, terror, disgust, anger, contempt, loathing and rage. I showed all of these in the space of just 10 seconds one morning when I discovered (with bare feet) that the cat had left a present for me on
the kitchen floor. I may have even invented some new emotions in there, so don’t tell me that men don’t emote.
What women actually mean is “why don’t men show more of the sentimental emotions?” which is a whole different thing. It seems that women want to know why men don’t talk about their feelings and openly cry.
The last time I cried in public was in the early ‘80s. I was six years old and being led out of The Forum Cinema by my mum after watching what is still the most harrowing, violent, disturbing film I have ever seen – Watership Down. Clearly not ready for animated scenes of rabbits being slaughtered to an Art Garfunkel soundtrack, I decided right there that showing emotion was not really my thing – especially in front of my younger female cousin.
Since then, I’ve learned to bury any watery emotions deep inside and now I don’t cry at films, except occasionally on a plane. Apparently that’s got something to do with high altitude and changes in oxytocin reception in the brain, so it’s science, not gushy emotion, and therefore perfectly acceptable – even if the film is School of Rock. Hey, those kids really came through for Dewy.
Other than that, I’m an emotional stone, and quite right too. It’s how things should be. Men are not as emotionally open as women, and this needs to be accepted. It’s not to annoy you, it’s just a lifetime of being taught to suck it up, show a stiff upper lip, shut up and get on with it. Handshake’s as good as a hug old boy, there’s a chap, we’ll get you another puppy later, now come and eat dinner.
We’ve spent decades trying to keep emotions in check for fear of unleashing some terrible socially awkward monster. If there was a group of five men around a table and one burst out crying, what you’d soon have is a group of four men at the table and one embarrassed chap “walking it off ” on his own.
In a way, we’re like Dr Bruce Banner trying to keep feelings in check because if we don’t, there could be an outpouring of embarrassing emotion as we become The Emotional Hulk. And it’s not just in front of other men, you women wouldn’t like it if we were open with all our feelings – from anger to sadness – all day, every day.
For a start, if I showed open emotions right now, my arch nemesis, the office Konica 350FF printer, would be smashed up in pieces in the car park with me standing over it openly crying with joy. But it’s not. It’s still sitting there mocking me with its flashing red light and cryptic excuses. One day that evil swine will rue the day we met, but until then I’ll keep my emotions in check. And I’ll never watch Watership Down again. It’s best for everyone.
A planet full of emotional men? You’d hate it, trust me.
[For Cosmopolitan magazine, June 2012]