If want sensitive men, why aren't boys raised to be sensitive?

This isn’t a factual question… and it’s not really a debate. I’m just sort of kicking the idea around. You can help! Grab your idea-kickin’ boots and let’s get started.

The question is in the title, really. It’s one of many (many!) dominant memes that what women want is a man who can communicate his feelings, is easy to talk to and share things with, and so on. Okay, maybe not every woman wants this, but it seems to me to be a prevalent complaint.

So why aren’t little boys raised by parents, especially mothers, to be more sensitive and communicative? Are young boys pre-wired for other behavior — perhaps they can’t learn to do this. Is the “women want sensitive men” just a canard and doesn’t have enough widespread support to change society’s standards on mothering?

My personal guess is that the short-term “shut up and stop crying, Mommy and Daddy are tired” trumps the long-term thought of “If I raise this boy differently, society may be a better place.”

I dunno. This is probably nonsense anyway. :slight_smile:

Eh, I bet both girls and boys get equal amounts of “stop whining” and “how do you feel about that” from their parents pretty much. At least, I’ve never seen a mother not communicate with her young son all sensitive-like, boys usually clam up and quit being demonstrative or having heart-to-heart talks with Mommy long before Mom’s ready to let them go, instead.

Even if Mom and/or Dad is pushing the communicative sharing thing, there are many other cultural influences pushing the macho big-boys-don’t-cry idea, too. So it’s not as if Mom’s influence is going to will out necessarily, particularly thru the rebellious teenage angsty stuff.

Boys are hard-wired differently than girls, no doubt about it. There are wide spectrums of normal behaviour for all of us, but very observable tendencies divided by gender.

Similarly, what’s always puzzled me is the “men are such babies when they’re sick” meme. How often do we hear about a mother with walking pneumonia tirelessly slogging thru her endless duties and a father who retires to the sofa for three days at the slightest hint of a sniffle? Sure there are exaggerations, but I caught myself ‘babying’ my son whenever he was sick and having this epiphany that I was creating one of those future men! But then, when they’re babies, we baby them, right? That tapers off eventually, but it’s what parents do, so how come it seems the boys grow up expecting that level of TLC yet the girls don’t?

Peer pressure on guys would be one answer. I don’t know if all women are looking for a sensitive guy, and I don’t know that all women are that sensitive and all men insensitive. That said, women in general have better communication skills and are encouraged to behave that way. Guys, culturally, probably get more of a “you can’t understand women; here’s how to deal with them” background which does not really lead to sensitivity or understanding.

I’m 34, and I have a 32 year old brother. I find guys my brother’s age and younger were raised not just to be sensitive, but to consider women just as good as men. I don’t generally go for older guys because I find they really hate women. Some younger guys do too, but they at least know how to pretend to like us. Just kidding. But not really.

Well, it’s possible that women announce the three-days-with-pneumonia-uphill-both-ways thing precisely because mothers baby their sons and not their daughters, and their daughters are reaching out for attention.

I’ve also heard, and I’ll dig for a cite, that men are wired to withstand acute pain far better than women, who are able to cope with chronic, ongoing pain.

I’ll see what I can find…

Maybe that cite is rigorous enough for IMHO?

Men may actually act like babies when they’re sick or hurt because they respond differently to that kind of body stress, while most men I’ve ever met who hit themselves with a hammer or stub their toe say, “Ow. That’ll hurt later.”

You know, my post doesn’t fit in 100% with the spirit of this thread thus far. Maybe I should add that being sensitive doesn’t necessarily mean talking a lot or crying or any of that. I think it mostly means being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Sometimes I see in myself that I am good at faking that, so I try not to fault my boyfriend for not being quite so good at faking that. There’s sensitive to social situations, and then there’s sensitive to what matters. I can read people’s feelings and react however I want, but I don’t necessarily know that it’s such a virtue. My boyfriend can usually read a room, but he is not so quick to try to placate people just to win points for being mister nice guy and I can definitely see what’s good in that.

I’m not one of those people who believes in the whole battle of the sexes. I generally feel that guys my age are like me and that they feel the things I feel. Either someone’s a nice person or he isn’t, and being raised a certain way doesn’t go that far with me. Most of the time, I feel that men are sensitive. My dad and his generation, different story. But guys I know are pretty much okay.

Assuming the stereotype is true, which I don’t for a millisecond believe it is.

I’m not talking about stereotypes, RickJay, I’m talking about actual medical comparisons between how men and women react to pain. Try that link.

Now either their study was flawed and the raised endorphin reactions to acute pain were all just coincidentally drawn along gender lines, or… well, I dunno.

I disagree with this, actually strongly. I think that some women say that they want it, but much fewer actually want this.

If women experience pain more acutely, you figure that makes them more compassionate?

The reason I ask is that I have never noticed that people who experience more pain to be more compassionate as a general rule. It seems like it’s just as often that someone who experiences a lot of pain becomes a total jerk.

I don’t know that you can look at studies on endorphins and arrive at a conclusion that women are crying out for attention and need to complain more. I actually think that’s a bit backwards. Maybe they announce the fact that they are dealing with pain because they are unable to produce enough endorphins to cope with the pain in silence and talking about it is a coping skill that compensates for lack of endorphins? Or maybe they are not conditioned to be silent about it until they feel safe in a maternal embrace? Are you saying that babying boys helps them to keep their mouths shut until their moms are around?

When I hit my thumb with a hammer or stub my toe I usually think, “oh I wish I hadn’t done that,” and I ignore the pain for the time being, because what’s the point in wallowing in it? I’m a totally hormonally balanced female. I’m pretty sure women all over the world react the same way. I’m not sure why I would be special.

I think that women do announce that they have put up with pain because it’s always assumed that we don’t, and that our lives are a big parade of sitting on perfumed pillows while someone else does all the hammering. I guess that I believe very strongly that we are not so “hard-wired” as everyone wants to pretend and that prejudice is just about the strongest force in the world.

They do. Men have changed alot in the last 30 years. Its almost normal for men to cry, express their emotions, or have an emotional bond with someone other than their wife.

But that’s not what the study or Fish meant or said. Women don’t feel pain more acutely; they’re able to deal with chronic, long-term pain better than men, who are better able to deal with acute, short-term pain than women. “Acute” in this case acting as an adjective referring to the nature of the pain, rather than an adverb referring to HOW they feel the pain.

I’m going to admit this is too hard for me to understand. I mean, I get it, but I don’t know why that would make us different.

Sure, that makes sense. Although it starts me musing which begets which, exactly. Do sons require more attention because they’re not as well equipped to deal with sicknesses, reducing the total TLC available causing daughters to reach out? Do mothers identify with their daughters and have less sympathy for their aches and pains?

That makes sense too, although most men, and women, I know use far more colorful language. :smiley:

      • I tend to think that the natural presence of testosterone has much to do with it. It is a fact that brains of men and women tend to be physically different (even in children), and it is known from livestock that castrating males (eventually) makes them gentle and docile–similar to how females of the species normally act. Could it be that men and women have distinct biological roles they still cannot yet escape?.. (without minor surgery that is)…
  • As for the “men act like babies when they are sick” thing, it is not so much that they “act like babies” as it is that they “act dramatically different than normal”…

Pardon my puzzlement, but… huh?

I was responding to Queen Tonya’s speculation about “men are babies when they’re sick” in post #2. I never said sensitivity to pain had bugger all to do with whether men or women are “sensitive.”

Man, I must write posts in Klingon or something, if nobody understand them. :confused:

No, Fish I am just sensitive. :slight_smile: Plus I just need a lot of clarification before I understand things sometimes.

I don’t think it’s true that men are babies when they’re sick. I think everyone is a baby when they are sick. I think I disagree with the stereotype.

I’m a mother of three boys, ages 14, 12, and 6. I’m an extremely sensitive person. It’s a genetic trait in my family. I’ve raised my boys to be aware of their environments, to consider their own feelings and those of the people around them, in short, to be sensitive.

And they are, to a degree, sensitive. But they’re still all very masculine, and very much boys. It certainly doesn’t seem to come as naturally to them as it does to me or almost all of the little girls I’ve ever known.

It’s easy to picture them if I wasn’t around, though, to guide them. Lord Of The Flies, anyone?

Not to worry, pokey. I didn’t start this thread to perpetuate stereotypes, but to try to look at some common (but not universal) behaviors and understand why those behaviors continue.

So far, we’ve got a few votes for “women who want sensitive men” isn’t as common as everybody thinks, and another few votes for “biology plays a part in how male and female brains work.”

My reading tends to support the idea that of the women say they want men who can share their innermost feelings, cry, knit, attend baby showers, etc., many who get men like that find they don’t respect them. “He’s not strong enough.” But hey, that was just one book (called All Men Are Jerks, so it might not be completely unbiased). :wink:

The men in my family tend to be very stoic when we’re sick. We don’t require coddling or a lot of attention. Mostly we just want to be left alone to recover on our own with minimal fuss.

As for men being sensitive… My ex wanted sensitivity from me. So much so that I was often expected to read her mind. I’m an expressive and creative guy and I think I’m in touch with my emotions. I don’t cry at sad movies but I do have a well developed sence of empathy. One day, long time ago, my ex called me in tears saying that some random guy had assaulted her on the street. Just reached down and grabbed her crotch as she was walking to work on a busy sidewalk. She didn’t want me to be in tears with her or share her alarm at the personal invasion she experienced. She wanted me to track him down and beat him senseless. I imagine, so would 99% of the women in that situation. Correct me if I’m wrong.