Regardless of whether gender differences in adult behavior arise from conscious or unconscious psychological processes, one thing is clear: boys grow up in a world inhabited by a narrower range of emotions, one in which their experiences of anger are noticed, inferred, and potentially even cultivated. This leaves other emotions—particularly the more vulnerable emotions—sorely ignored or missing in their growing minds.
Boys have always known they could do anything; all they had to do was look around at their presidents, religious leaders, professional athletes, at the statues that stand erect in big cities and small. Girls have always known they were allowed to feel anything — except anger. Now girls, led by women, are being told they can own righteous anger. Now they can feel what they want and be what they want. There’s no commensurate lesson for boys in our culture.
"It's a myth that violence in a culture only affects those it specifically targets, and patriarchy is a form of cultural violence," says Amanda Lindamood, director of training and community engagement at the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC). "When how you are allowed to engage in relationships, how you are able to relate to your body, and how you know to feel powerful is tied up in not feeling anything, you lose a lot of authenticity. You also lose your ability to have your emotional needs affirmed and met within your relationships, and lose out on developing those skills which are crucial to maintaining your relationships."