March 18, 2009

The Myth of Strong, Silent Men

A brother man-maker and blog reader, Rick Segreda, was moved by recent events to send along the following comment. I love what he said. See what you think. I'll put my comments at the end.

Most of us are familiar with the male stereotype about the strong but silent man. The myth is that by not speaking, men are displaying character, inner strength, integrity, yadda, yadda, yadda. What brought all this up for me was the slaughter yesterday in Alabama. The ABC news article included a line saying, "Michael McLendon, 27, of Kinston, Ala., was described by former high school classmates and others who knew him as a former A student who 'never had very much to say.'"

It is my hope that Michael’s example help begin to someday fully and totally dismiss the myth about "silent men." Personally, I hum along in agreement with what Sidney Greenstreet tells Humphrey Bogart in "The Maltese Falcon," when he says that he prefers men who say too much to those who say too little, because those who say too little often say the wrong thing when they do.

In part, the men's work I've been part of over the years, and much of the work with boys, is largely to help them find their voice . . . to help them to find that link between what's happening in their inner emotional life and the willingness and ability to speak it in trusted circles. I agree with Rick that we don't need more male shooters to learn this lesson. We need more places where males, of all ages, can be encouraged and supported in taking the risk to speak their truth . . . mad, sad, glad or otherwise. Strong silent men are really just pressure cookers.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed. I work with so many men who were told as boys, in any number of ways, that what they felt was unacceptable. So rather than having their sadness, anger or joy validated, those feelings were relegated to the shadow. Now we’ve got generations of men who think there’s something wrong with them, and so hold it all in to hide their shame from others. Let’s keep helping each other to “let it out!”

    Wayne M. Levine, M.A.


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