My best friend is going through a divorce, and it’s driven home the point of how entrenched the concept of the “right” way for men to express emotion is in our culture and my behavior.

We’re both liberal and well educated. We’re both feminists of one degree or another. We’re fairly well in touch with our emotions. For lack of a better term, we’re both (at least partially) “woke.”

But when we’re talking about what he’s going through mentally and emotionally as his marriage of 20 years dissolves, our conversations are couched in terms of movie quotes, jokes, subtle digs at each others sexuality, and all the stereotypically coded talk that makes up men’s communication about emotional issues.

For some reason I can’t say “I love you, I get it, I’ve been there, and I’m here anytime you need to talk.” And he can’t admit that he’s scared, and devastated, and questioning his own self-worth.

I highly doubt that his wife is having to work through this morass of internal and self imposed “rules” about what you can and can’t talk about with her female support system. But 40+ years of conditioning isn’t something either of us can just set aside.

This is why I need feminism. <3