Men are Basket Cases,too (Part I)Guest:Casey Hayden

I am thrilled to introduce you to writer, Jr. High youth pastor, and my dear friend,Casey Hayden.  He is a graduate from the University of North Dakota with a bachelors in Rehabilitation and Human Services.  We met in college and he has greatly impacted and challenged how I view God and how I seek truth.  Although we may not agree on all things, his heart and passion for God and people is unique and one that I truly admire.  He is also one of the goofiest people I know, always capable of making me laugh.   I look forward to you getting a taste of what Casey has to say in regards to men and their emotions.  So without further ado…
Why Men are Basket Cases, too
          There are a lot of stigmas out there that men are not emotional beings. We were not created to understand our emotions. We are not created to have any quality of femininity.
          Do you see the problem with that?
          There are sociological imposed convictions as to why men lift weights, and women shop and cry. Do we see the danger in this?
          Or how about this, women are allowed to see chick flicks, and men, if they don’t watch Braveheart, are going to be called effeminate names.
          But internally, Men, we are basket cases. We were not created to be cookie cut into the shape designed by a society around us. We have this tension between who we are and what society deems appropriate. So many men place their identity inside their masculinity and their ability to obtain power. Then once society stripes us of ANY of that, we become confused. We become unsure of our identity anymore. And when one is unsure of their identity, then one is a basket case.
So lets break this down into a few quick points:
Men are emotional
          We are. Seriously. Men understand and grasp their emotions. On occasion they are simple, and on other occasions they are not so simple. Either way, they stem from a very complex psyche. Emotions are derived from the brain, so to say that men do not understand emotions, or do not have emotions is a very illogical argument. Men have they same amount of emotions as women. How we live out those emotions may be very different, in some circumstances, but we still have those same emotions.
          Men have estrogen and women have testosterone. Men and women have serotonin receptors and serotonin. Men and Women have an amgydala in the lower brain. We both have the biological make-up that seems to be close to identical. What is interesting is how important those hormones are. Testosterone (which is higher in some men) plays into our emotions and how we interact with life. Estrogen (which is higher in some men) plays into our emotions and how we interact with life. So biological, our argument lies primarily with the hormones, which is weak because hormones are a chemical released in the body.
          The difference between men and women when it comes to emotions and being basket cases has to do supremely with how we allow emotions to be lived out. Men, based off this argument, are emotional. We live out our emotions. Complacency and apathy are emotions (which society believes all men have and only have).
          We are emotional. We have emotions that feel just as deeply as women. However, we have a barrier (just like women) which is we have a society that tells us which are appropriate and which are not. (which in turn creates internal emotions which creates pre-basket case syndrome)
(more to come…)


4 thoughts on “Men are Basket Cases,too (Part I)Guest:Casey Hayden”

  1. You point out that men and women have testosterone and estrogen in different amounts, but as I read your argument you stop short of the logical conclusion, which is that women (possessing more estrogen) have a natural tendency to be more emotional than men. You seem to blame women’s manifestly more emotionally expressive nature on societal expectations alone. I don’t think that’s true.

    Societal expectations do have a role, to be sure, but often stereotypes arise from a germ of truth.

    Think about how God created us (I no longer believe in God, and tend to think of things in terms of evolution, but the conclusion will be the same). The roles he gave men included protecting women from harm, going to war, hunting for food, and so on. Those all require suppressing emotions (e.g, fear), sucking it up and getting the job done. I have a son who spent 5 years in the Marines. When he got out, he found that he had a hard time feeling emotions because his training had been to ignore them.

    Biblically, women’s lives center around the home and nurturing children. They need to be emotionally sensitive for that job, and it’s no surprise (from either a creationist or an evolutionist perspective) that they are.

    I think it’s a good thing that society has lately encouraged men to get in touch with their feminine side. Society is less violent and more humane as a result. (Steven Pinker wrote about this in his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature. I highly recommend it.) Many of us men are also glad that women have been given permission to be more in touch with their testosterone. However, there will always be an innate, biological difference between the sexes. It may be trendy to de-emphasize or even deny it, but as a husband, and as the father of two sons and four daughters, I see it every day.

    I’m looking forward Part 2 of your essay!

    1. Hopefully part 2 will address a few of these points. However, just a quick reply on my end!

      Where my argument should have provided more substance is in the area of hormonal activity and how they interact with our daily life. You point out that the role of societal expectations have at least a touch of truth to them. While I agree to an extent, I would also have to argue that we have to be careful to apply the idea that the truth that is at the root of the expectation is the same for all beings. We can’t assume that how one woman acts, another one will act the same. We can’t assume that how one man enjoys something, another man will too. We can generalize, but we can’t assume for all beings. How women express emotions now was completely different 15-20+ years ago. How men express emotion is different here in America, from town to town.

      I do not argue that it is important to draw that line and point out that we are different as men and women, I just believe that we have to be careful in defining what a man looks like and what a female looks like. When we create that complex inside a person, there becomes this battle between who they are and who God created them to be. I would argue that God created us with those roles as an aspect of who we are, but not the identity of who we are. The roles God has given us are much more than that. Those are basic items, to protect and provide. God has given us a lot more too, such as loving our neighbor, caring for the oppressed, having a child like faith, being in close and intimate relationships… etc.

      But where I think we differ is in our definition of emotional. Emotions are involved in everything. What we do triggers the release of a hormone which in turn provides a response/reaction to our current situation (which we choose to live out in connection with our choices through the perimeter of our personality). So when I say emotional, I mean the basic meaning of how emotions are reactions to our certain situations. We may express those emotions differently, we may experience those emotions a certain way, we may have different types of emotions, but we are still all emotional.

      What I am trying to point out is not the role societal expectations play on a person, but how they can damage the individual as a whole. Part 2 will dive into this a little bit.

      Thanks for the response!! I appreciate it!

  2. Some interesting thoughts bro! So much of this conversation is contextual, that is, what context and culture men and women are taught how to respond, relate, and engage their emotions. When we were reading things to get ready to have our first son, we read that often parents will be less emotionally nurturing to sons, because they need to learn early to “tough it out” as opposed to how many parents nurture their daughters. Men (and women!) learn so much from their families and their cultural expectations of how they should behave, it is an issue inside and outside of the church. I’m looking forward to more of your thoughts bro!

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