Are women being expected to 'man up'?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Maryanne Steele BSc (Hons) BACP reg.FHCP, Accred.Cognitive Analytic Therapist.
16th June, 20140 Comments
In the last two articles, I talked about depression and how it can affect a man. I explored the underlying issue around how we expect male children to 'man up' and take things on the chin, deal with them and get on with things. A man who shows his emotional side can be viewed as weak.
Statistics have shown how girls are achieving better than boys at school. The drive for many years to facilitate and encourage girls at school to aspire higher and believe that there is no glass ceiling in terms of what they can achieve has resulted in girls overtaking boys in exams, and achieving university places. Young women in the workplace are more ambitious and assertive than they were even 20 years ago. They expect to be able to do just as well as their male colleagues. The ambitious girls at school learn early to hide their anxiety like their male peers often do, to be more flippantly confident, to put up stoically with any failure or unfairness and not complain.
They learn early that to be 'resilient', or at least as far as possible appear to be resilient, is a virtue that is admired certainly in the workplace. They learn to hide their feelings and 'man up'. Alongside this they have to be able to have children without seeming to get out of step with their male colleagues or they will be stereotyped as 'this is just what women do'. They have to appear to stay effortlessly slim and attractive! What pressure the 'New Woman' is under!
Consequently, more women are finding that there comes a point when the way they have learnt to control their feelings is actually harmful to themselves. Controlling the way they eat, the weight and shape they are, the high standards to which they and their families are expected to attain in order to not feel guilty that they are letting themselves or their families down, all this can become overwhelming.
This is especially so as the New Woman does not take time or have as many opportunities to talk with other women as used to be the case; to share issues and problems and talk them through. Instead it is more usual to be at the gym or to spend long hours at work striving. Women in this position start to resemble the male I have described in the last two articles - seemingly tough on the outside but having to stay tough on the inside as well - to 'man up' in order to keep going and to be taken seriously in the world they find themselves in. This struggle can get overwhelming and can result in a range of issues like acute anxiety, anger, overuse of alcohol or drugs to self-soothe and eating disorder issues. It can result in relationship breakdowns.
If this feels familiar in any way, why not book an appointment to discuss where you are and explore if counselling can help you regain perspective and achieve an equilibrium in your life.
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- When good changes stir up difficult feelings
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