Google Thinks a “Sensitive Man” Is a Crying Man, Which is Pretty Disheartening
Have you ever Googled “sensitive man” or “sensitive guy?” Because the results are kind of disheartening. Sure, there are a few images of gently smiling fellows and dudes posed with cute animals — but a great deal of the pictures that pop up are of men crying. They look miserable. Why? Why is sensitivity in men still viewed as...well, this? And what can we do to change it for the better?
Those are the sorts of questions Mark Greene is asking over at The Good Man Project. It’s true that one of the definitions of “sensitive” is someone who is “easily hurt or damaged, especially emotionally” — but another definition states merely that it’s someone who is “delicately aware of the attitudes and feelings of others.” And that, my friends, is nothing but a good thing. Although women deal with their own brand of “ugh, sensitivity,” men might actually have it worse: If they’re considered “sensitive,” they’re thought to be crybabies, whereas if they’re “strong,” then they’re often thought to be emotionally disconnected. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
The key, Greene argues, is framing empathy differently. Being aware of and having the ability to consider other people’s feelings isn’t a weakness; it’s a strength. The question isn’t “what makes a sensitive man?” It’s “what is true strength in a man?” I would even go so far as to rephrase it as “what is true strength in a person?” — because let’s face it, being able to empathize with other people is something everyone should be able to do, male or female.
Weirdly enough, Googling “sensitive woman” brings up a lot of stock photos I assume have been used in articles about how to care for sensitive skin. Maybe “bossy” is our equivalent of “sensitive?” Either way, I think we could all use a course in gender judo. Maybe then we can stop assigning negative connotations to traits that should be positive. Problem solved! Let's call it a day!
Images: Dawson's Creek/ The WB; Bedazzled/ 20th Century Fox; 60 Minutes/CBS