A transgender man who was born female offers their insights on the differences between male and female socialization:
Still bothered by the US cultural idea that men can only be non-romantically intimate with one another in war-like or competitive circumstances.
I’m pretty quiet about the fact I’m a transman usually, but holy shit I need to tell you about the culture shock I’m going through because it’s blindsiding me.
There’s a huge sense of social isolation that comes with being perceived as male, because now people are subconsciously treating me as a potential predator. All strangers, no matter their gender, keep their guard up around me.
It made me realize that there is no inherent camaraderie in male socialization as there is in female socialization – unless, of course, it’s in very specific environments. And the fact I don’t ambiently experience this mutual kinship in basic exchanges anymore is an insanely lonely feeling.
You know how badly this would have fucked my mind up if I had grown up with this?
It is 4:30am and I’m mourning the loss of a privilege I didn’t even know I had
Frankly, this is something I would’ve never understood without living the experience.
It’s now blatantly clear to me that most cis men probably experience chronic emotional malnutrition. They’re deprived of social connection just enough for it to seriously fuck with their psyches, but not enough for them to realize that it’s happening and what’s causing it.
It’s like they’re starving, but don’t know this because they’ve always been served 3 meals…except those meals have never been big enough.
This deprivation comes from all sides of aisle, by the way.
In the case of women: When I’m out in public and interact with women, all of them come off as incredibly aloof, cold, and mirthless. I have never experienced this before even though I know exactly what this composure is – the armor that keeps away creepy-ass men.
As someone who used to wear it myself, I know this armor is 100% impersonal. Nobody likes wearing it, and I can say with absolute certainty that women would dump the armor in favor of unconditional companionship with men if doing this didn’t run the risk of actual assault. (Trust me when I say women aren’t just being needlessly guarded.)
But I only have a complete understanding of this context because I’ve experienced female socialization. If I hadn’t, I would’ve thought this coldness was a conspiracy against me devised by roughly half of the human population. Even now, with all I know about navigating the world as a woman, I’m failing to convince my monkey-brain that this armor isn’t social rejection.
And as for male socialization? Again, it seems taboo for a man to be platonically intimate with men for reasons I have yet to fully understand, I think it boils down to a) the fact society teaches boys that it’s not okay to be soft with each other, and b) garden-variety homophobia. Our media only shows men being intimate with one another when they’re teamed up against a dire situation, and I’d bet real money it’s a huge reason why men gravitate toward activities that simulate being teamed up against an opposing force.
But men are not machines of war. Yes, testosterone absolutely gives you Dumb Bastard Brain, but that just makes you want to skateboard a wagon down a hill or duct-tape your friend to the wall, not kill someone.
The human species looks so much colder standing from this side.
I can see how men might convince themselves that their feelings of emotional desperation is personal weakness as opposed to a symptom they’re all experiencing from White Imperialism. Because this human connection, this frith, is as essential for our wellbeing as water is.
So sick. How sick. I want to destroy this garbage.
#this is a certain perspective you gain from having crossed the gender barrier.
This was a fascinating read for me, given this person was able to compare their experience socializing as both a woman and a man. However, I’m not quite sure whether I completely agree with their assessment on the flaws of male socialization.
In my own experience men can be intimate with each other in a non-romantic manner as well, but it tends to be more subtle and comes from relationships that has been formed for a while. I certainly understand the point the author of the above writing have made, though, in that it’s a very different set of behavior compared to how women can be with each other, especially to a stranger of the same sex, and that society at large will treat a man very differently in social settings.
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