June 23, 2024

Why some Men are Choosing a Tree over a Woman.

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In case you are unaware, or haven’t caught up with the latest growing trend, we now have a group of men choosing trees over women.

In direct response to the social experiment question of women choosing bears over men, it seems many will be out in the woods, with the bears and the trees.

The idea behind the choosing of the tree is a suggestion that men would get more compassion from a tree. That sharing feelings with women can lead to men struggling with rejection, embarrassment, or discouragement. That it’s difficult to be vulnerable. That a tree would not answer back. A tree would be peaceful and comforting.

And whilst I feel a great deal of empathy and compassion for any man who has felt they cannot be open and vulnerable with a woman, or have felt rejected or shut down (I know there are women with toxic traits out there), the comparison of the choosing a tree versus choosing a bear are like chalk and cheese. The metaphor of the bear is about safety. Harassment. Intimidation. Abuse. Sexual assault. Rape. And murder. Whereas the metaphor of the tree is about not feeling heard. Feeling rejected. Embarrassed.

They are two different things. And whilst we should have a conversation about men’s mental health, we shouldn’t have it at the expense of women’s safety. They are two important issues and both warrant urgent attention and discussion. They are not mutually exclusive. We can in fact address these two issues concurrently, but let’s not take away from the fact that many women don’t feel safe. And the statistics of harm to women are frightening.

I’m a huge advocate of mental health and men’s mental health. I work as a therapist and on a suicide crisis line and speak to men who are really struggling all the time. Feeling like they have nobody to talk to and supporting them to feel heard and validated in their vulnerable state. Here’s the thing, though; men do not feel emotionally safe to talk to other men. Their mates. Fathers. Brothers. Colleagues. And whilst some women may not create this space for the men in their lives, most do.

But let’s be honest; it’s not women who have created this problem, is it? No, it’s men; it’s men who have created this problem. It’s the patriarchy and what they have built. It’s the bullsh*t that boys shouldn’t cry. Men should be stoic. Men should hide their emotions and their feelings. And there is still a whole world of red pill f*ckery out there currently promoting this. Men are wanting to talk to a tree because the system, created by men, says men should be strong. But instead of seeing that, women are blamed.

Meanwhile, women have been conditioned to people please. Nurture. Put everyone else’s needs before their own. To be kind and compassionate. Us, women, have also been raised and conditioned in the patriarchy, and some struggle with internalised misogyny that feeds the “boys don’t cry and men should be stoic” mantra. A system that women, healthy feminism, in fact, have been trying to dismantle.

The sad thing is these men choosing the tree cannot see the massive contradiction that’s being pushed by other men. On the one hand it’s masculine men don’t cry. That they shouldn’t speak of their feelings to women. That it’s weak to show emotion so they must be stoic. On the other hand it’s women don’t listen. We’re not supportive. We don’t care. So which is it? Because from where I am sitting there needs to be real change in beliefs and conditioning. There needs to be space created for men to share. And that space needs to come from a change in this bullsh*t system that is alive and well.

And men themselves need to step up and start seeking help. Because whilst an open and loving relationship should be an emotionally safe and comforting space to speak our truth, be heard and validated, it’s also not therapy. As a woman, I want to know my partner’s struggles and I want to support them, but I want them to be willing to get professional help because I’m not their emotional punching bag, or worse, their physical punching bag.

I’m not the bandage to stop the wounds that were created long before they met me, to stop them from bleeding. The patriarchy teaches that men are logical and women are emotional. Men are strong and women are weak. Yet anger is an emotion. Domestic Violence comes from the inability to regulate emotions. Bitterness. Resentment. The need to control. Jealousy are all emotions. So can we stop the bullsh*t rhetoric that men don’t struggle with emotions? They struggle all the time, and too many of them have absolutely no ability or awareness on how to regulate them.

So now some men are choosing a tree, which I personally have no issue with. Go, sit with the tree if it’s going to diffuse your anger, stop you from hurting yourself (or someone else), or simply help you reflect and put things into perspective; that’s a good thing. Sit with the tree if you’re going to feel nurtured, seen, heard, and validated in your feelings; that’s important. Talk to the tree. Journal. Meditate. Read. Google therapists. Hug the tree and ground yourself.

But if the idea of choosing the tree is some sort of attempt to insult women who choose the bear, the whole premise of the bear has gone straight over your head.

Far more women than men are proactive about their emotional and mental health and seek support, and women are far better at creating nurturing and supportive circles around themselves. We talk, cry, and feel with our friends. We give and receive openly with our friends and family, so if a man rejects, dismisses, embarrasses, or discourages us, we have our circle.

Men, on the other hand, want their partner, women in their lives, to fill all these roles. I always find it interesting when I read comments from men degrading women for taking antidepressants or being in therapy like it’s a bad thing. I don’t like the overuse of medication, but it has its place; the point is, if more men sought help and got the right treatment and support, they wouldn’t need to talk to a tree.

So I genuinely ask out of curiosity and kindness, what is it you are telling the tree? Because wouldn’t it be better to actually seek therapy? If you have things to work through and you are angry, bitter, resentful, controlling, insecure, jealous, or any of the hundreds of other emotions that human beings feel and they are affecting your behaviour, relationships, and life, perhaps a good therapist would be a great starting point. Because with respect and compassion, it is not your partner’s job to fix these. It isn’t your partner’s job to make you happy. And peace comes when you both work toward being the best versions of yourselves in an equal and loving partnership.

Are we really saying that a man being rejected, embarrassed, or taking a hit to his ego is the same as abuse, rape, and murder? Because if we are, we have a hell of a long way to go.

I’m sure I’ll have those who point out “but men kill themselves at a far higher rate than women.” I know they do; as mentioned, I work for a suicide prevention service. They will point out that men are dying from suicide, just like women are dying from being killed by men. And again, I will directly remind you that these are not the same. Men end their lives at a far higher rate, for many different reasons, but the number one reason is they feel isolated. Alone. Disconnected. They are battling addiction issues. Because they have been conditioned not to share their issues and feelings; they compartmentalise it all until they implode. So many times these men could still be alive if they sought help. If their fathers, brothers, mates, and colleagues created safe spaces for them to be vulnerable. Yes, absolutely, if they have women in their lives, they, too, could be supportive. But blaming women for the suicide rate of men is wrong. That narrative is dangerous, and it’s perpetuating such a toxic narrative.

We are all responsible for our own health and well-being. And again, we see the contradiction that men are not emotional and don’t need to talk about their feelings like women; yet, they are killing themselves and they are killing women, all because they are emotional and they do need to talk about their feelings.

I would go one step further and say the majority of men committing abuse and harming women are men who should have sought help long ago. Perhaps if they had their own supportive circle and the self awareness to seek professional help, more women would be safe. It’s quite startling to see that if men were more proactive in looking after their mental and emotional health both men and women would be healthier and safer. Even alive. That if we stopped this toxic bullsh*t of men being strong, stoic, logical, and hiding their emotions, we would have much healthier men. Much healthier relationships. And a much healthier society.

A society where men wouldn’t be choosing trees and women wouldn’t be choosing bears. Now wouldn’t that be Utopia. Wouldn’t that be a lovely, safe, and caring society to live in.

And to finish this off, if women didn’t build their support circles of friends and family and didn’t seek professional help when they needed it, many of them would also be choosing the tree because a lot of men are not listening to or emotionally supporting the women in their lives either and they are certainly not bringing them peace.

So if you need to choose the tree, perhaps think about your family and friends and what kind of support network you have, and remember the reason you are choosing the tree is not because you fear for your life or feel unsafe. And that’s the difference.

~

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