Weakness and vulnerability as "feminine"

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Post by reboot on Thu Nov 13, 2014 10:54 am

This crops up a lot and it is something that I would like to unpack. I am not putting a non-101 tag on it but I would encourage everyone to read the guidelines and think carefully before posting.

This conflation is something that has always troubled me because it plays into our gender stereotypes. In some cases, on some specific topics, women do have more leeway to be vulnerable/show weakness, but on others (especially around family matters) women are expected to be solid as a rock. Men also have specific areas they are given leeway to be weak (especially around sexual matters such as control/temotation and expressing anger), but are restricted on others (expressing sadness, lack of ability, fear of failure, etc.).

I think when it comes to expressing vulnerability to our opposite sex partners, we trip over these expectations and as a culture we are super uncomfortable with tears that are anything but dignified weeping. Then there is the individual variation based on upbringing that makes individual more/less open to expression of different types of vulnerability/weakness.

I would be interested in hearing from people what they think about this issue and this experience. I would especially be interested in hearing from people who had same sex relationships and how gender norms play out.


Last edited by reboot on Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:07 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarify)
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Post by Guest on Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:28 am

So just to clarify, we're strictly talking about Western perceptions of what is weak, right?

Because I've seen some male expressions of sadness from my mother culture that've made me feel uncomfortable. There's just so much more leeway for men to express sadness from where my parents come from (although I think even that's changing now).

And yet, I'm ashamed of it even though I was never explicitly shamed for it (from what I can remember).

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Post by reboot on Thu Nov 13, 2014 11:32 am

HermitTheToad wrote:So just to clarify, we're strictly talking about Western perceptions of what is weak, right?

Because I've seen some male expressions of sadness from my mother culture that've made me feel uncomfortable. There's just so much more leeway for men to express sadness from where my parents come from (although I think even that's changing now).

And yet, I'm ashamed of it even though I was never explicitly shamed for it (from what I can remember).

Actually comparing cultures would be interesting because in Western culture it is touted as being somewhat biologic, but I had the same experience as you with what seemed to me to be unfomfortable expressions of vulnerability by men and women in decidedly not feminist cultures
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Post by Enail on Thu Nov 13, 2014 1:56 pm

I'm not sure whether this belongs in this thread or the "male sexual assertiveness and female desire one," but since this thread asks specifically for same-sex relationship perspectives, I'll go with here.

My wife and I are both female, but I think we have a bit of the stereotypical 'masculine/feminine dynamic' - she is more emotionally expressive, more likely to show vulnerability and seek emotional support, better at identifying and acting constructively on her emotions; I tend to have less strong emotional reactions and be more on an even keel, but am less comfortable with showing vulnerability or expressing emotions. She sometimes feels like she needs to do my emotional work for me, helping to identify feelings I'm not aware I'm acting on; I sometimes feel I need to be the stoic one and put my feelings aside to support her with hers.

But I think it's probably a little easier than a cross-gender relationship, because even though I tend more towards the 'masculine' skills naturally, I think I have a bit more training/awareness of the 'feminine' skills than most men would, so it's easier to bridge the gap in understanding between the two ways of working with emotions.

I'm going to pull in a little from the other thread, b/c I think it's relevant:
reboot wrote:
Also, vulnerability in all its flavors does not seem like something that most people find sexy in others, regardless of gender. I know most men I know are deeply uncomfortable with women crying and find it awkward or upsetting (depending on the topic) rather than sexy, especially if it is the full on ugly cry with lots of mucus.

Oh, yes, this. I feel like this has come up more than once here, conflating 'vulnerability is okay' with 'vulnerability is sexy in and of itself.'  Some degree of vulnerability is, I think, important for emotional closeness - because it's a way of developing mutual trust and comfort - but I don't think it's ever itself actively attractive (other than a very basic level of 'I appear to have human feelings and to care about things')

I would see it as similar to 'support each other in bad times' - I want a partner who I can support and who will support me in bad times, but that doesn't mean a partner who is going through a bad time is more desirable. Being vulnerable with someone is almost always asking something of them; that doesn't mean it's a bad thing, but it's something that has a cost for the other person.  

Before I started dating my wife, there was a period when I was acting as her main emotional support through a tough time, where she was being very vulnerable with me. There were some positive effects in the long run:

-we became closer from the experience of sharing feelings and trusting

-I grew to like her even more because of how she handled being vulnerable with me (showing respect for my boundaries and awareness of how she was affecting me, being kind and caring to me even when she was very upset, continuing to display the good qualities that made me like her to begin with, making an effort to still bring things to our friendship other than her need for support)

-it gave me an example of how to handle being vulnerable in a good way, which helped me to feel more comfortable being open with her and to do it in a way that didn't repel her or burden her excessively

But "she was vulnerable and that was awesome" was not one of them. It was something that was well worth doing, because I cared about her, but it was also a very hard thing and if she hadn't been aware of and considerate of that, it would have been harmful to our relationship and to my feelings about her.
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Post by Lemminkainen on Thu Nov 13, 2014 2:06 pm

I think that there's an age component to this genderedness as well. The cute clumsy girl, damsel in distress, and most other weak-but-attractive feminine archetypes are invariably young women. Older women (which, depressingly enough for media purposes, seems to include basically anybody over thirty) who are portrayed as more attractive tend to be depicted as stronger and more capable.

Interestingly, there's a similar youth-coded desirable vulnerability for guys in western countries-- the psychological darkness that the "troubled but cute" teenage boy or young man has. This overlaps with some but not all feminine vulnerability archetypes (it meets up with those involving psycholocal needs, ie: the ice queen who just needs to be loved, but not those involving physical weakness or general helplessnsess). I've actually exploited this quite a bit in my own dating career. A calculated sharing of psychological pain or unfortunate memories was a fairly standard part of my first date repertoire. I found that it encouraged people to confide in me in turn, and fostered a sense of investment and closeness and trust-- because I was vulnerable, and willing to share it, I was easier to get close to. A caveat: being super-masculine isn't really part of my sales pitch. Most of my partners were looking for something other than a conventionally Western-masculine partners, and the women who have gone out with me have been disproportionately bisexual or Asian-Americans with immigrant parents (who grew up with alternative models of masculinity).

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Post by reboot on Fri Nov 14, 2014 12:37 pm

Lemminkainen, that is an excellent point. The angsty, troubled high school/early college boy/man gives a lot of leeway for male vulnerability being expressed and is very attractive to some (the whole bad boy/misunderstood rebel thing) and for women openly expressed vulnerability/weakness has a very short shelf life and in my experience is more acceptable in conventionally attractive women than others.

Enail, thank you for sharing. I wonder if in most couples (regardless of gender) the dynamic of the more emotionally open/more reserved, more/less willing to express emotions, etc but in opposite sex couples people can get forced into roles that are uncomfortable because of gender norms?
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Post by Gentleman Johnny on Fri Nov 14, 2014 2:58 pm

Lemminkainen wrote: I found that it encouraged people to confide in me in turn, and fostered a sense of investment and closeness and trust-- because I was vulnerable, and willing to share it, I was easier to get close to.  A caveat: being super-masculine isn't really part of my sales pitch.  Most of my partners were looking for something other than a conventionally Western-masculine partners, and the women who have gone out with me have been disproportionately bisexual or Asian-Americans with immigrant parents (who grew up with alternative models of masculinity).

Your phrasing is a bit. . .clinical but I can't argue the point. I found quite by accident that I have one particular story that melts hearts every time I share it. Its more personal than outright vulnerable but its the kind of thing that lets me put a lot of personal depth on the table in a fairly casual context and its candy for closet romantics. . .a phrase which is almost its own topic since just about everybody seems to be one.

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Post by The Wisp on Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:23 pm

Gentleman Johnny wrote:
Lemminkainen wrote: I found that it encouraged people to confide in me in turn, and fostered a sense of investment and closeness and trust-- because I was vulnerable, and willing to share it, I was easier to get close to.  A caveat: being super-masculine isn't really part of my sales pitch.  Most of my partners were looking for something other than a conventionally Western-masculine partners, and the women who have gone out with me have been disproportionately bisexual or Asian-Americans with immigrant parents (who grew up with alternative models of masculinity).

Your phrasing is a bit. . .clinical but I can't argue the point. I found quite by accident that I have one particular story that melts hearts every time I share it. Its more personal than outright vulnerable but its the kind of thing that lets me put a lot of personal depth on the table in a fairly casual context and its candy for closet romantics. . .a phrase which is almost its own topic since just about everybody seems to be one.

This maybe require a thread split (or not) but where's the line between sharing something personal and vulnerable and oversharing? It would seem that some things are too much for early interactions no matter the situation.
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Post by Mel on Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:56 pm

The Wisp wrote:This maybe require a thread split (or not) but where's the line between sharing something personal and vulnerable and oversharing? It would seem that some things are too much for early interactions no matter the situation.

I think as a general rule it's best to stick to the same level of depth that the other person is offering you, or only go a little deeper. How much vulnerability a person shows you is usually a good indicator of how much vulnerability they'll be comfortable with in return, though to deepen a friendship you may sometimes nudge that a little further to see if they'll reciprocate. What's oversharing is when you tell someone something that's far more personal than anything your previous interactions have included.

In a way it's similar to how you escalate touching. You start with not very intimate areas like hands, shoulder, and if they respond positively you can try something a little more intimate like waist or knee, and if they respond positively to that you might touch their face, go in for a kiss, etc. Where you overstep is if you go straight to more intimate without getting reciprocation at the earlier stages. Telling someone you've only chatted about superficial things with something highly personal is like going straight from a tap of the hand to groping them. If that makes sense?

There's a Captain Awkward commenter who has a great explanation of friendship and "levels"--I don't know how to link to the specific comment, but if you go here: http://captainawkward.com/2014/09/01/618-my-ex-is-pushing-me-out-of-our-friend-group/ and search for the word "levels" you'll find it.
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Post by Lemminkainen on Sat Nov 15, 2014 2:09 am

The Wisp wrote:This maybe require a thread split (or not) but where's the line between sharing something personal and vulnerable and oversharing? It would seem that some things are too much for early interactions no matter the situation.

Mel's guidelines on this are pretty good. There's another way to make it work too-- if what you're sharing is topical, if the other person invites you to share by asking you a question, and/or if you feel pretty sure that the other person will be able to empathize. For example, when my partner and I had our first date, we both told each other that we were bisexual, and I shared a difficulties-that-come-with-being-bisexual story-- a little more intimate, but still relevant enough that it didn't seem like an anvil falling out of nowhere.

Two other important things: a) You usually need to get the other person at least somewhat invested in you before you talk about your experiences/feelings. I usually only do this if I've been having a smooth-flowing conversation with a person for at least a few hours. b) If you're going to share, you need to be prepared for the other person to share something of the same magnitude with you. A lot of people respond to emotional sharing with emotional sharing, and if you're not ready to respond to them with kindness and empathy if they've done the same for you, you'll probably hurt them and damage their trust.

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Post by Guest on Sat Nov 15, 2014 8:25 am

Reboot, I'd like to bring in your quote from the other thread, if that's Ok:

"I know most men I know are deeply uncomfortable with women crying and find it awkward or upsetting (depending on the topic) rather than sexy, especially if it is the full on ugly cry with lots of mucus."

Isn't this just a natural consequence of being taught that crying is weakness and weakness should be pulled up by the roots? Is it even surprising that many men are uncomfortable with handling this kind of vulnerability?

I'm interested in whether the same kind of policing is present between women and to what degree.

This is actually why I tend to keep away from people. I don't trust most people (especially men) to react charitably to my displays of vulnerability and so there's always a feeling that I need to hide myself in order to be an attractive friend.

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Post by Mel on Sat Nov 15, 2014 8:57 am

HermitTheToad wrote:Reboot, I'd like to bring in your quote from the other thread, if that's Ok:

"I know most men I know are deeply uncomfortable with women crying and find it awkward or upsetting (depending on the topic) rather than sexy, especially if it is the full on ugly cry with lots of mucus."

Isn't this just a natural consequence of being taught that crying is weakness and weakness should be pulled up by the roots? Is it even surprising that many men are uncomfortable with handling this kind of vulnerability?

I'm interested in whether the same kind of policing is present between women and to what degree.

I've actually never had another woman do a full-on ugly cry in front of me. But I can say that I have always felt uncomfortable about crying at all in front of anyone, including other women (I have an unfortunate tendency to tear up whenever I'm particularly stressed or frustrated, even if not actually sad--and can remember even as a kid trying desperately to cover this up in front of female teachers, friends, etc.), other than people I've felt really really close to, which so far as only been a couple of romantic partners.

I think we're all taught that crying is weakness, and the only reason it's a little more acceptable in women (e.g., a girl crying is less likely to be outright shamed for it than a boy) is because it's seen as a natural consequences of women being weak in general (e.g., "Oh, she can't help it" etc.).  Which really doesn't feel any better in the long run.  Any time I might cry in public, I worry not just about people seeing me as weak for it, but people seeing it as additional proof that my entire gender can't handle their emotions "maturely" or whatever, which obviously I'd rather not provide.


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Post by celette482 on Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:13 am

The only time I've ever ugly cried in front of anyone not at like a funeral or say the Ground Zero memorial or the Holocaust museum as going to see Up with a sorority sister. We were both sitting there, totally stunned and just tears, streaming.

My now-husband realized he'd never seen me cry, ever, until we'd been dating two years and I ate some overly hot salsa. He did see me cry and I saw him cry when my grandmother died a month before our wedding.

But I have never thought of this as a "crying is weakness" thing and more of a "I like to manage my emotions in private, thanks" thing. I cry in private whenever I feel the need to. I also get angry in private. I'm just inclined to deal with feelings on my own before returning to polite society. when I was a kid and had a tantrum or whatever, I was encouraged to go to my room to compose myself- that's where this comes from. I don't see that as shaming me for having strong emotions, but more like saying "Strong feelings need to be dealt with on your own before you can return to people, then you can deal with whatever problem caused those feelings."

To me though, vulnerability isn't really about crying. Vulnerability is about honesty. Because we're *all* vulnerable. You cannot make it through life without having some pain, some sore points, so bad things in your past, some anxieties etc. So being vulnerable is just... not lying about it, not putting up a false front.
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Post by reboot on Sat Nov 15, 2014 11:35 am

I agree with Mel. I have also seen indirect policing of crying in women by other women, in that if someone cries at an inappropriate setting (e.g. work) or for an "insufficient" cause (e g. flat tire, broken glass) the story gets told to others in a mocking tone and paints the person as a drama queen or as weak. Then the other women and girls in the group know that the same type of story with the same mocking tone will be told by others if they ever cry in public for the "wrong" reasons. Frustration crying is especially looked down on as weak.  I think this kind of peer policing started in 5th of 6th grade when girls would get called babies if they cried at school?

The only time I have had women full on ugly cry to me were women from more demonstrative cultures. The men did the same. I am going to admit I am still uncomfortable when it happens. The only times I have full on ugly cried has been in front of men, my ex and my best friend, and I only felt comfortable doing that because they had both already done the same in front of me in the past.

I was raised in a family where crying was deeply frowned upon and each tear brought on the stories of how various relatives suffered great tragedy without crying so I had better toughen up. My cousins and others raised in our specific ethnic and occupational community had the same upbringing. Women were expected to lose their husband and sons in a mining accident and bury their baby on the same day without crying once.
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Post by Enail on Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:26 pm

I've never cried in front of anyone but my family and my wife, but I've had female friends full-on cry in front of me.  I'd say among close friends it's usually treated fairly supportively (though I've only ever seen friends cry in public or group settings for reasonably major things).

Crying at work or in a casual social situation, though, is more likely to result in being thought of as weak or unprofessional or a drama queen. And the most common immediate reactions I've seen are "oh crap, person crying, what do I do whatdoIdo???" awkwardness and "jeez, do you have to go crying about it?" disgust/irritation.
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Post by reboot on Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:38 pm

celette482 wrote:.....

To me though, vulnerability isn't really about crying. Vulnerability is about honesty. Because we're *all* vulnerable. You cannot make it through life without having some pain, some sore points, so bad things in your past, some anxieties etc. So being vulnerable is just... not lying about it, not putting up a false front.

This is an excellent point. Being vulnerable is about dropping the public face and showing yourself, warts and all. It is exposing the parts of you that you dislike or the times you behaved less than nobly.

I have been terrible about being vulnerable on certain topics, which is why I never once discussed my marriage until I was a year or two out of it, and that was only because I finally admitted I needed therapy. My friends were so mad at me for hiding it for so long.
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Post by Enail on Sat Nov 15, 2014 1:44 pm

I'm apparently so bad about being vulnerable that when talking to my friends about my leg problem, I've been sticking to a lighthearted tone and been so quick to change the subject or talk about peripheral matters that I realized recently that I don't think most of them have actually understood that I'm permanently disabled.  Uh-oh I just don't know how to talk about serious stuff with people when it's my own.
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Post by Hirundo Bos on Sat Nov 15, 2014 2:12 pm

About men's negative feelings when someone cries in front of them... I sometimes feel guilt when I see other people's tears, and some of those times I'm right to, but it the moment, guilt can easily turn to resentment... I have heard other men express similar sentiments.

I don't know how those feelings would change with the gender of the person who cries... I'm not sure I've ever had a man cry in front of me because of something I've said or done.

The other kind of negative feeling I get when someone cries is a kind of fear/helplessness about not knowing how to respond, or fear that to give comfort now will commit me to give even more comfort in the future... I think this has to do with emotional work, if I understand the term correctly? And if I understand the term correctly, that has been culturally seen as a women's kind of job, and I'm likely to have some of that cultural message internalized.

(Which gives me something to work on now I'm trying to be more receptive towards vulnerability.)
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Post by UristMcBunny on Sat Nov 15, 2014 4:51 pm

I kind of really suck when it comes to the specific kind of vulnerability that involves crying.  My immediate bodily response to sufficient stress or anger is for my face to start leaking.  Actually, it does it sometimes when I'm just watching a bloody advert for something that's even a little bit emotional.  It's incredibly frustrating, because as far as I've been able to figure out whether or not the facial leak happens appears to be entirely out of my control, and it makes me look weak and vulnerable when, often, what's actually going on internally is more that I'm heavily suppressing an urge to commit an act of violence or, when it happens for other reasons, it's more like this.  

Weakness and vulnerability as "feminine" Depression+Two+REVISED+56
Weakness and vulnerability as "feminine" DEPRESSIONTWO60alt3
Weakness and vulnerability as "feminine" Depression+Two+REVISED+58
Weakness and vulnerability as "feminine" DEPRESSIONTWO60alt4

I kind of resent the image it presents of me to others and how much it deviates from what's actually going on. I already have to deal with a lot of perceived weakness due to being short, blonde, young-looking and with a voice mostly comprised of speech impediments and squeak noises, so I tend to have problems with not trying to overcompensate for all that.  People have definitely treated me as lesser, as unimportant, as easy to ignore or appropriate to condescend to because of my appearance of weakness.

On the other hand, I am fucking brilliant at being cool with other people's tears, and I've gotten pretty good at telling whether someone needs extra special care or is having the sort of crying sessions I get where the crying is unimportant and actually frustrating to have attention brought to.  My other half is an emotional crier as well, bless him, although weirdly enough he cries very easily in response to stress and frustration, but almost never much in response to grief or the more socially-acceptable man-crying moments, which I used to find confusing when trying to determine the best way to support him emotionally.

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Post by kath on Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:54 am

UristMcBunny wrote:
I kind of resent the image it presents of me to others and how much it deviates from what's actually going on. I already have to deal with a lot of perceived weakness due to being short, blonde, young-looking and with a voice mostly comprised of speech impediments and squeak noises, so I tend to have problems with not trying to overcompensate for all that.  People have definitely treated me as lesser, as unimportant, as easy to ignore or appropriate to condescend to because of my appearance of weakness.

YES YES YES.

My physiological response to most types of irritation is to cry. I cannot help it. If I can go away and do it in private, I will, but sometimes I can't. I had one really bad experience where I was modelling my own work in a fashion show, and my work was more art than fashion. The person introducing it had asked us to send her what we wanted her to say, "otherwise she'd use what's on the website" - that morning. I sent her an answer ("yes, please use what's on the website") after her deadline, but was not worried because I wanted to do what she had said she'd do if we didn't say anything.

She said something that did not at all capture any of the interesting aspects of my work, just described what it looked like - when what it was really about was the biofeedback sensors making it look that way, which I think it was her responsibility to know given that I did not deviate an iota from the original proposal she was a part of the organizing committee that accepted the work and had been promoting the show for a year. So I asked her what happened, and she said it was my fault for being a flakey artist, and acknowledged getting the email but said she got it too late and I couldn't expect her to do that, and I was like "um,  the email said 'do what you were going to do if you didn't get the email', so I don't see how when it arrived is relevant. Here is the part on the website I thought you would say, because it's what you said you would do" and as she started to bald-face deny that she had ever said she would do anything else, should have known anything about my piece, and called me a flakey artist who had been difficult to deal with (I had, in fact, been more responsive and involved than many of the other artists, and am in general pretty easy to work with based on other projects I've been involved in), I just could not not cry. She immediately stopped listening to anything I said and later said I verbally abused her, even though I didn't call her any names or say anything that wasn't a statement of fact. Needless to say I do not trust this woman as far as I could throw her, and have lost a significant amount of respect for her. I also have to work really hard to not care what she thinks of me. Other people were around and knew about it, but I pretty much just have to rely on my otherwise good and respectful behavior and my work to preserve their opinions of me (which seems to have worked - I'm still involved in this event). If this happened again, I'd of course try / want to handle it differently - maybe I wouldn't talk to her about it right then, knowing now what I do about how she handles that sort of thing. This would also have gone really differently if she had just happened to be a different person who responded to my question with something other than "I felt overwhelmed dealing with this and do not want to admit that I didn't do something I said I would because I actually had way more to do than was possible - I would rather blame you for that, since you're asking me about it", the interaction would have gone very differently, and I didn't have an occasion to learn that earlier, so ... *shrug*

I've had a wide variety of reactions to my crying when I would really rather not, from bringing attention to me to "fix" oversights (NOT WHAT I WANTED, SIT DOWN MOTHER, LET ME FEEL IGNORED AND LEFT OUT IN PEACE PLEASE) to just listening through the crying: in University, I was once working very hard on various art projects, and hadn't slept to finish the first in a set of deadlines. I needed to speak to one of my professors about another project, which I expected to include criticism of my ideas. But I was so exhausted I was crying when I started talking to the male prof about it, and I just had to say "I'm crying because I'm really really tired, not because what you are saying is upsetting. Please give me honest feedback about where I'm going with this work." and he was awesome and did (apparently, obviously I can't tell if he softened it because I was crying, but I felt like he listened to me and I didn't end up with a bad mark because he couldn't tell me how bad he thought my idea was. I think he was generally supportive of it but offered helpful criticism and direction).

I am super lucky to work in a place where right now, most of the people (particularly the people I work really closely with) are really emotionally literate and can talk about these things, so we can say "I'm really tired" or "I'm really upset and need to go sit over here now" or "I'm upset but want to talk through this" and we are really good at doing that for each other.

I also find sometimes ... like, there will be something upsetting, that's upsetting for whatever reason - it's difficult, it makes no sense, it's inefficient - and I can't really talk about it without tearing up, I think because I feel very intensely about it. That can make it extremely difficult to go to people about it (especially the person who was my boss until very recently, who for a few reasons I didn't want to find out how he would handle that) - because it's not like I could wait and then talk about it with them - it's important to me, I feel strongly about it, I'm going to tear up no matter what. Sometimes I think I can push through it well enough to get by and not get bogged down / derailed by the crying. Not ideal that it happens, but I usually find that when I model "I am still saying reasonable and clear things, even though you can probably tell that my eyes are starting to leak" people will normally go with that.

(I think this is a self-soothing technique. When I was little, a good cry was appropriate, I usually could go away to do it, and it allowed me to have the emotions. It also has the advantage of being 100% portable. However, it also has the disadvantage of being obvious and making people ignore the words you are saying.)

(I also have eyes that tear up a lot for physical reasons, like my eyes are uncomfortable or it's a very sunny day, and sometimes they just leak for not identifiable reason whatsoever - when I'm just sitting around, not depressed, not upset, not actually crying, just literally leaking eyes.)

Also, trying not to do it or beating myself up for getting emotional / caring about things / crying just makes me cry more because I get emotional about being too emotional.

I think accepting it as a coping strategy that I have cultivated because it has served me well in the past and trying to substitute other coping strategies when possible, but not hating on myself for crying, ends up being more productive than fighting it.
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Post by Girlande on Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:08 pm

I hurt my knee once as a young woman, had to go to the ER, didn't know if I'd just permanently damaged my knee or what, was in pain, and had no one to help me. I'll never forget that cold-ass ER guy who just looked at me and said "Why are you crying?" Fuck you with all of the fucks.

A few years ago, I had to go to urgent care because my bronchitis was so bad I couldn't sleep for days. Asked to take a deep breath and blow into the tube thing for the fourth time, I just spontaneously burst into tears. I was ashamed and kept saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm just so tired" but the two nurse assistant ladies couldn't have been nicer, took wonderful care of me, and in fact I think crying got me better care.

Is the difference in how I was treated about gender? I have no idea. I do know that I started falling in love with my husband when I saw tears in eyes as I was telling him about my beloved childhood cat and how she died. I knew then, and everything since has proved me right, that he's a sweetheart.
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Post by Conreezy on Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:08 pm

Girlande wrote:I hurt my knee once as a young woman, had to go to the ER, didn't know if I'd just permanently damaged my knee or what, was in pain, and had no one to help me. I'll never forget that cold-ass ER guy who just looked at me and said "Why are you crying?" Fuck you with all of the fucks.

A few years ago, I had to go to urgent care because my bronchitis was so bad I couldn't sleep for days. Asked to take a deep breath and blow into the tube thing for the fourth time, I just spontaneously burst into tears. I was ashamed and kept saying "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm just so tired" but the two nurse assistant ladies couldn't have been nicer, took wonderful care of me, and in fact I think crying got me better care.

Is the difference in how I was treated about gender? I have no idea. I do know that I started falling in love with my husband when I saw tears in eyes as I was telling him about my beloved childhood cat and how she died. I knew then, and everything since has proved me right, that he's a sweetheart.

Paramedic here. I'm very sorry for your bad treatment, but I'll wager a guess that your bad experiences are not about gender of the healthcare provider. Nursing, even emergency nursing, is pretty female dominated still. Besides that, though, the nature of the job can make everyone so hardened, and that's really unfortunate. God knows I've had many moments of losing my compassion in the face of legitimate suffering because of all sorts of variables that had nothing to do with the patient in front of me--fatigue (a huge one), burnout, home stresses, the usual job stresses, the constant bullshit we see, the failure at dealing with the real craziness that comes in. We tend to treat everyone like shit, especially the mentally ill, though my observations make me think it's more about class.

I won't make an excuse for bad care, though. That should never happen, but it does.

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Post by Guest on Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:09 am

Crying is an interesting thing for me. As is vulnerability in general. I get close to crying, and then it just... doesn't happen. Like I get stuck and it won't come out.

I used to be a crybaby as a child, but I hit high school and hardened to what feels like a point of no return sometimes. The only times I've cried since are when my grandfather died two years ago and my Japanese teacher died when I finished high school. Both times I made sure not to do it in front of people. I don't do very well with receiving sympathy - it makes me feel uncomfortable. I seem to fair better giving sympathy and comforting others but that's only because I haven't had people tell me I'm bad at it.

I don't share much with people either. I wouldn't talk dating with most people I know, for example. Those I do talk dating with it's their dating lives we talk about. I've turned into this third-party adviser for a lot of things. But that's why I go to the internet, where I don't need to look people in the eye about a lot of this stuff. Razz

To tell the truth, I don't know how I turned out this way. I could hazard a guess being picked on in school, prejudices towards others at the time and a generally cold demeanor have all just coalesced into how I behave now.

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