Recently, when I was browsing Huffington Post Women, I came across an article entitled, Men Just Don’t Trust Women — And it’s a Huge Problem. I didn’t quite know how to feel when I saw this headline. Part of me agrees: men don’t trust women; they don’t like it when we are “in charge,” and they have a hard time trusting that our experiences are real. But, another part of me thinks: this is ridiculous. We can’t make such broad, sweeping statements about how men feel about women. This is an outdated way of thinking! Shame on this author.
But then I realized, the author of this overgeneralized statement saying that the way men think is a problem… is a man. And then, I paused. And interestingly, even though I probably wouldn’t have read the article otherwise (it did seem like “click-bait”), I decided to see what this man had to say.
In his article, Damon Young speaks about how after two years of being with his wife, he has realized that he doesn’t trust her. He makes sure to specify that yes, he trusts her to make big decisions and to “not smother him in his sleep” (ehhh, this seems a bit sexist IMO), but that he doesn’t trust her feelings. If she approaches him and is upset about something, he immediately assumes that whatever her problem, it’s probably not that big of a deal. His first thought, is that she’s overreacting.
My first response after reading this: ANGER. I hate when men tell me that I’m overreacting. Nothing pisses me off more when I’m upset than someone else trying to minimize my experience. But then I realized that perhaps, I was overreacting a bit (It’s ok. It’s ok as long as I am the one telling myself I’m overreacting. Hypocritical? Perhaps. Do I care? Not at all). Once I got over my anger, I found that I really respected this man for writing about his experience. I’m impressed that he is admitting — to the entire world, including his wife — that he doesn’t trust his wife’s experiences. I’m also exceeding happy that he is realizing that this is a problem that needs to change.
Young is addressing a cultural problem: men (and women, for that matter) have been indoctrinated to believe that women are hysterical, that they think with their hearts instead of their heads, and that they are moody… especially “at that time of the month.” Now — and I may get in trouble for this — I think that in general, the majority of women are more emotional than the majority of men. This is not a hard and fast rule, and there are a million exceptions to it. Also, this is not all biological: our society tells men that they should not express their feelings (young boys are bullied and teased if they do) and women are expected to talk about their feelings (do we think it’s a coincidence that so many “tell me about your feelings” social workers are women?!). So yes, despite these disclaimers, in general, the stereotypes are true. Even so, however, even if women ARE more emotional than men, it does not mean that our feelings are not real or that we are not to be trusted. And that is the problem Young is addressing in his article.
I agree with the conclusion that Young made about his situation. He has learned that often, when his wife is expressing her feelings — how frustrated or angry or upset she is with a problem — she is not asking him to agree with her about how awful the situation is. He doesn’t have to be “at a 9” in terms of anger if she is “at a 9.” Rather, she wants him to honor her experience. To validate her emotions. And to believe — to trust — that she has a legitimate reason to feel that way.