As research for my upcoming book The Fear Cure, I’m rereading Brené Brown’s ground-breaking book Daring Greatly. In it, she discusses the difference between how men and women experience shame. There’s a lot of talk in our culture about how women have been oppressed by the patriarchy- and I’m not dismissing the validity of this conversation. But we spend less time talking about how women help perpetuate the shadow side of the patriarchy. The section in Brené’s book about how women experience shame left me nodding my head. “Yup. Felt that. Done that. Seen that.” But the section about how women shame men left me gutted and feeling at risk of what Brené calls a “shame spiral.” As in, “Oh shit. I’ve left men feeling that way.” It inspired me to share what I read with you, in case you too are guilty of triggering shame in the men you love.
Apparently, according to the research, men live under the pressure of one unrelenting message: Do not, under any circumstances, be perceived as weak.
The Shame Message
When Brené interviewed men of all ages about what shame messages they experience, one answer prevailed. “Don’t be a pussy.” She talks about how men are raised to hide behind a curtain of strength, like the great and powerful Wizard of Oz who turned out to be nothing more than a blustery old man. As women, we tend to keep them behind the curtain because we don’t want to witness their weaknesses. Read More→