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The Misunderstanding of Male Sensitivity

November 15th, 2011

So no one will ask me at the end of the article what I think about Drake’s new album, Take Care, let me be clear: I like the album and I’ve had trouble playing anything else since I first listened to my leaked copy last week. Not only do I like the album because of its crisp production and Drake’s better-than-good skills as an MC, I like the album for all the reasons most others say they hate it.

Some say, It’s too emotional; I like it because it’s emotional. Some say he sings on it way too much, I don’t like it when he sings all the time either, but that strike against him isn’t enough to change my overall opinion on the album. Some say the combination of Drake’s emotional lyrics and constant singing make for a soft album, I say the art of the quiet, ambient rap album is under-appreciated, but I digress.

What I appreciate most about Take Care is the way it’s revealing how people really feel about men who not only are expressive about their feelings, but also men who know how to feel something, anything for the women who have come in and out of their life. Before Drake, the most emotional rapper I ever listened to was Tupac, and even if he wasn’t singing on half his records (he usually got singers to handle those duties), he talked about his struggle to make it work with another woman often. For years ‘Pac has been my go-to-artist when I was down about a woman, and by no means does Drake replace him, but he certainly adds to that otherwise small group of artists who can actually rap to how I’m feeling.

Now before everyone gets all up in their chest about me including ‘Pac in the same paragraph as Drake, take heed. By no means am I saying Drake is as good as ‘Pac…matter of fact, let’s move on. If you think that’s what I’m saying you’re not as smart as you think.

People who know me in real life and those who only know me through the computer will draw their own conclusions as to why I like Drake as an artist and why I enjoy Take Care. I’ve been told I favor him. I had the world’s greatest Halloween outfit when I dressed up as him. My writing carries with it the same emotional vulnerability he carries in his music. All of these are fair and valid points, but they have nothing to do with why I enjoy Take Care. The reason I like Take Care is I like to see how people respond to actual emotional honesty from men.

I wish that we lived in a time and a generation where people would stop viewing my honesty as overly emotional. People always act like I spend my life crying in a dark room. I don’t, I’m good. I’m a man. — Drake

There are those who mistake being vulnerable with being sensitive and sensitivity with being soft. It’s a sick cycle, and one reason why men never want to open up to women in the first place. Most women don’t know the difference, don’t know the pain men live with for any number of reasons, and because they don’t understand it, they either deride it or doubt it. Well, here’s the truth ladies: If a man has never cried over you, your impact on him was minimal and for any man who has never cried over a woman, my condolences. None of this is to say a relationship without tears doesn’t count, it’s just to say it probably never got deep enough.

The most honest thing I’ve ever seen from a man was seeing my Pop cry when he and my Mom were breaking up. For so many years he told me to never cry. There were even times when I heard my mom cry over something he said and his reaction was so insensitive. He’d ask, “Why are you crying?” He never got it, and I swore he never would, until the day I saw him in the garage wiping away his tears. The reason? If I recall it was because my mom questioned his love for her, and told him straight up, “You don’t love me.”

I was like in 7th grade when I saw this, and I didn’t get it then. I was on my mom’s side and I too decided his love for her wasn’t real, or at the very least, wasn’t how any person should love someone, but as I’ve gotten older, and as I’ve loved someone with whom I made mistakes, I know why he cried. It’s the same reason why some men sing to a woman about how they feel.

We want her to understand just how serious we are about this love thing or hate thing because she doesn’t get it when we say “I love you” or when we say “I hate you”, and the latter may sound egregious, but it’s just as honest as the emotion of love. The point of it all is to understand, there’s real feelings stirring from within, and it was her who set them off. To express those feelings, however we choose, doesn’t make us less of a man, it probably makes us more of one.

Warning: Video of a sensitive rapper rapping about his feelings towards a woman, may cause you to feel something.

  1. Rae
    November 15th, 2011 at 20:09 | #1

    Well put.

  2. I Mind
    November 15th, 2011 at 20:18 | #2

    Good post… still doesn’t change how I feel about “emo” men though… not that that’s the goal of the author, but I’m just saying.

    I think the problem is it causes an unbalancing to an extent. Women are the emotional ones (typically)… when men wanna start adding all their whining into the mix sh!t just gets far too confusing and NAUSEATING!! Imagine… all my life I’ve read, listened to and seen men say that the act of women expressing their EMOTIONS is annoying and yet now men are so supposed to be coddled for doing the same thing they hold against us… One of my favorites… “Are you PMSing?” lol… smh men.

    New man law:

    If you wanna PMS, grow a vajayjay.

  3. Yanta Rettaulo
    November 15th, 2011 at 21:08 | #3

    Random response:

    “I never cried when ‘Pac died/But I prolly will when ‘Hov does” –Drake, from “Fear,” (what I believe to be) one of his most honest tracks.

    I actually drafted a more substantive and apropos response to your post, but these are the first lyrics that came to mind after reading.

  4. November 15th, 2011 at 21:34 | #4

    Good stuff, brotha.  

    What you say is true, there’s a sick and vicious cycle going on. We’re raised all our lives to think that expressing any kind of  emotion (ESPECIALLY not crying) is a big no-no and makes you less of a man.  Women complain that men don’t show enough emotion, but when they do, both women and other men label them as “emotional” or too much like women.

    The problem is that when boys are told to not show emotions, they either keep them to themselves or refuse to acknowledge them altogether.  When they finally decide to show their emotions, at that point they are ill-equipped to handle and process them, thus you have “men” who whine, complain and cry instead of showing them in a mature way.

    I’m not saying this as an excuse, I’m just saying that it is a legitimate obstacle that we men face.  Some of us overcome it, some of us don’t. And there is a balance to be had. We can’t be at either extreme.  We can’t refuse to acknowledge our emotions or keep them bottled up only to explode later, nor can we just let it all hang out at the risk of sounding whiny or, God forbid, like a woman.  

    One thing that will help is if men and women alike stop confusing a man’s expression of his emotions as being “emo” or “whiny.”  Just because a man chooses to express himself, that doesn’t make him “soft” or a female dog.  Now, if dude really is PMSing, then call it what it is.  But don’t say he’s PMSing just because he’s choosing to express himself.

  5. guest 2
    November 15th, 2011 at 22:03 | #5

    this is your best damn post to date.  bravissimo!
    and a HUGE f you to all those who mock men who show emotion, especially you daft females. is this not what we’ve been begging our men to do for centuries!?!?!? STFU.

  6. November 15th, 2011 at 22:31 | #6

    You brought up a very good point. Men who demonstrate their vulnerability are regarded as “too sensitive” or a punk. Men cannot openly express their emotions without being ill-perceived. It’s not surprising. Media and society only perpetuate this notion. But women, we can help our men by allowing them to be vulnerable without judgment. Thanks, Jozen.

  7. Nicoledingels
    November 15th, 2011 at 23:12 | #7

    Wow. this is so real. I wanted to say ‘this n that’ but I just need to sit with it and appreciate .

  8. November 16th, 2011 at 00:00 | #8

    From a female perspective:
    Unfortunately you are right about a lot of women thinking men are soft if they show emotion.  Being a bachelorette and actively dating/meeting people I don’t want/need a guy to be hard (or soft?).  I need him to be REAL.  Emotions and feelings are part of being real.  Relationships involve communication and emotions.  I’m not saying I want you to be crying or ultra sensitive, but you need to possess the ability to show feelings. 

    On the note of music:
    It took awhile for Drake to grow on me.  Now that I’ve come to enjoy his voice and style I’m excited for the new album.  I agree that we should definitely leave Tupac’s legacy alone and just enjoy the music he made while he was here. 🙂

  9. November 16th, 2011 at 00:06 | #9

    A) I think you not only missed the entire point of this post, but also misunderstood it. 

    B) From the female perspective: your post throws up a HUGE red flag.  Red alert!  Emotionally unavailable male.

    The message wasn’t that you need to be “emo” or whining.  It was to not be some stone cold, emotionally suppressed jerk face.  The part about Jozen’s parents splitting up is a prime example.  If a guy isn’t emotionally available then the relationship will never grow and flourish.  If a woman is with a guy who is emotionally unavailable and she recognizes it then she needs to leave that relationship.  If she recognizes it and doesn’t then she probably has a serious self-esteem issue and is as emotionally dysfunctional as that particular male.  And if she doesn’t recognize he is emotionally unavailable then that’s her own fault because the red flags are all over the place. 

  10. November 16th, 2011 at 01:31 | #10

    I can’t with this dude Drake. Actually…I can and I will. My favorite thing about him is that he bleeds on tracks. Pours his soul into music. If that’s soft to you…fyl #thatsmusic This is a great post Jozen. Truth be told, I don’t like soft men. At all. #trustme But if you can’t feel what you’re feeling, and identify with it…we gon’ have problems. Men should be able to express themselves without worry. I respect him for that. Maybe they do it differently over there in Canada.

  11. Guest as well
    November 16th, 2011 at 06:58 | #11

    You must have not read some of his other posts to say that this is the best post. Keep in mind, every reader has their favorites. This post definitely shows the passion in Jozen, which is a good thing because it’s passion that brings out the love in all of us for people and things. Nevertheless, it was a great post to read.

  12. Brooklyndime
    November 16th, 2011 at 20:27 | #12

    People said the same thing about J …He raps for chicks…and we see how well that worked for him. Drake know women have the money to buy his cd and concert tix. If he’s smart he will continue to sing for us…straight to the bank! 

  13. November 17th, 2011 at 12:15 | #13

    I actually enjoy Drake’s music and personally have no issue with take care. I do feel that society would have us believe that real men do not show their emotions and honestly that is probably the problem with many of our relationships. Men keep things inside because they think that expressing them will get them deemed as sensitive. However, I think the issue with take care is the amount of expressing of these feelings. I don’t think anyone would have an issue if it was just two songs, but once you go past that people take it as whining. And as my father told me, men don’t whine.
     To be fair, everyone criticized Rihanna for her video telling her to “let go” or “get over” Chris Brown. And Mary J got flack for continuously making sad songs about Jojo (it was that 1 right?). The issue is no one likes a whiner and when people think we’re beating a dead horse, that’s what we seem like. True, Mary had several albums about him rather than just one but when it comes to men y’all don’t get as much slack. Society expects emotion from us. I don’t mind a guy expressing his feelings but I’d rather him do it privately like with his lover or his friends. To be honest I’d rather girls do the same. lol Drake is an artist so it gives him an excuse to do it publicly, but even so… you can only do it so much. Like I said, a song or two. Did they all have to go on the same album? I don’t mind, but if he doesn’t want to be considered sensitive… he should spread em out. I’m not saying that we don’t “misunderstand” but just like double-standards… it is what it is. A girl who sleeps around will be a h*e while a guy… will be a bachelor. Just as a guy who expresses himself publicly will be overly sensitive and a girl… will be normal.

  14. Jvtaylorjr
    November 19th, 2011 at 02:52 | #14

    My only issue is where is the transition?  The feelings Drake expresses in my opinion are ones felt by most if not all men, but feelings you eventually grow out of on your path to manhood. There is nothing wrong with crying in front of your lady.  There is nothing wrong with expressing your feelings of love, anger, pride, happiness etc.  But I do think there is something wrong with the complacency Drake seems to have with his insecurity.  He is strangely fixated on “who taught her that” and “is this your first time doing that” etc., especially for a guy that seems to live the life he portrays through his music.  While I appreciate a guy showing his emotion, the difference between Drake and Pac is Pac understood and accepted his insecurities as a part of who he is, while Drake seems to still want to change those things about himself.  He ignores all the things he has going for himself and hones in on the one thing he doesnt have…and then overcompensates for that by pretending he doesnt care because he has all of this other stuff.  But at the end of the day he knows the money doesnt mean anything without the love he wants.  Pac toed that line much better than Drake.  I think the reason a lot of guys dont like the album is because we can tell he’s overcompensating.  We are waiting for the resolution where he begins to accept himself and love himself.  I promise you Jay loves himself, so he can make a track like “Excuse me” or “Where have you gone”, and have it be complete because he is complete.  Pac can make “Keep your head up” and “Do for love” because he is complete.  Ye can make 808’s and Heartbreak and “Big Brother” because he’s complete. But Drake is gonna have to look back and say, “damn, i made marvins room.”  He’s not complete.  He doesnt think through his actions to the point of understanding their possible/probable impact. 

    But the album is well made.  Great production.  Great music.  But the storyline is a bit…incomplete.  Just my humble opinion

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