Lately I’ve had some time to watch movies in my free time and though my thoughts have been straying back and forth to this topic, I keep forgetting it, hours later.
It’s a movie trope/trend that’s been on the rise since the late 80s/early 90s, I think?
Cue in the sensitive, ‘feelings’ guy – the opposite reaction to the more traditional macho lead males in many movies.
I would say in the 50s and even earlier, basically at the beginning of the cinema age and film, we have had the traditional macho lead male. You see them through the decades. From James Bond, Ward Cleaver and Chuck Norris (the adventurous guys) to Moses of the Biblical movie kind. They’re the ‘huff and puff, I’ll save the day’ kinda guy with more actions and no words. Well, that’s the stereotype anyway. They were fighters, problem-solvers, tough and stoic. They have a romantic side too, though are hesitant to show it, unless there’s bravado.
Cue in your more modern, sensitive-feelings guy. He’s the guy who writes the lead woman poetry. Strums on his guitar. Listens to her emotional outbursts in several scenes and quick to cuddle. He shuns traditional work and is some sort of creative artist/painter/musician and is involved with some community/charity work that is overwhelmingly obvious. Think Lloyd Dober, Daniel Hillard and almost every romance lead Adam Sandler plays.
This sensitive-feelings guy started emerging, I believe, from the 90s and onward, popping up on the rom-coms alongside a lead female who’s shown to complain about the ‘unfeeling’, ‘brutish’ and ‘bully-like’ traditional macho guys. Now these traditional macho guys start getting portrayed as dumb, beefy jock guys while sensitive-feelings guy is shy, sweet and nerdy. The latter is obviously better.
Now many of you know, one of the things I hate to do is to tell creators what to create – that is basically a form of censorship and limits creativity. I am not saying that these writers should not write these characters, these are movies, pieces of fiction to be enjoyed.
It’s when life imitates art/fiction that it gets worrying.
Since then, a lot of women have started idolising and wishing for these sensitive-feelings guys in their real love life that you start seeing things go wrong. At first, ideally, it sounds great – a super sweet guy who writes you poems and letters, tells you all the intimately loving things you want to hear all the time. He’s all about showing emotions all the time and opening his heart. He’s creative. Artsy. He believes in a lot of great causes. He goes against the horrible so-called ‘mainstream’ of tough typical guys who will just abuse and push you around. He will worship you, you’re his Queen.
Until you realise sensitive-feelings guy can barely hold down a job, is so liable to emotional breakdowns because of his overly-sensitive feelings radar and when the going gets tough, expect him to skedaddle away because it’s too much. He definitely won’t provide for or protect you as a man, since he ‘respects you as an equal’ and will basically split everything.
Congratulations, you’re now basically dating a woman.
Yes yes, I understand this can be pushing the purest of the stereotype, though please inform me if there are a bunch of real guys out there who fit this type and are successful in looking after their relationships, their partners and family.
You have to have some toughness if you want to be a worthy man who can take on the responsibilities of real life, having a girlfriend/wife and family. These older traditional macho-types are also a pure stereotype and I’m not saying that one can only be a good guy by being quiet and marching your way through problems.
It’s a bit of both. There’s a time to be open about your emotions, to have a heart-to-heart and not be stoic and silent. Though sometimes, more often than not, it’s time to man up, toughen up and face a situation head on and think logically. Since the world isn’t a soft place, it’s a competitive place where you have to keep pushing through to succeed and men need to understand this if they want to be able achieve enough to look after their families and have the constitution for the problems of life while having these responsibilities. In turn, women can be the softness in the world for their men, where they can finally let their toughness (well, most of it) go and recharge.
Sensitive-feelings guys basically have all the traits a woman would wish for in a bestie, usually a female bestie, not the man who would be her partner in life, her protector and provider. It’s hard to respect and look up to a guy who acts more like a girlfriend, it’s a recipe for relationship disaster. It sounds dreamy in fiction, though not in real life.
Next time you hear a real-life woman complain about another ‘brutish’, ‘unfeeling’ guy and wanting the sweet guy, maybe tell her that.
I’m not saying go for the bad boy, especially not for the sweet loser either, go for Mr. Responsible-and-Resilient.