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Mens emotions, sledging, bullying and toughening up

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Society is broken. Here we are well into the 21st century and after more than 4 decades of effort by many including this organisation and we still have elements of our communities that hold the view that men should "harden up".


I like AFL footy. Last night there was an incident that, from what we are told, was a sledge on the field by the Brisbane captain to a Melbourne player. So bad was the words that the victim was uncontrollably emotional, crying and red faced. At the end of the game the Brisbane abuser appeared to apologise and it seemed half accepted. An investigation will commence.



Today the topic appeared on Facebook. The comments were appalling. 


-"you're among men now, you're not playing under 12's, harden up"

- "you got the age wrong, more like you're not in the sandpit"

-  "Harden up. Afl isn't for you lad. You wouldn't have lasted in the 80s or 90s"


So, if you cry you shouldn't play footy. If you cry you are immature so, you shouldn't play with the real men. If you cry you should harden up. 


How do you harden up? Besides, why should you harden up? So I did reply in that I mentioned the men suicide total for 2020 was 2384 and the road toll for males and females was 1094... less than half.


Sadly we cannot change the way people think. Society, is a large slow machine that takes evolution to bring about change.



8 Replies 8

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hey Tony,


I am unsure whether the post refers to society as a whole or the incident last night. Though really, at the end of the day it does not matter. 


Sledging in sport is nothing new and the reasons for it are not for here. 


There was a report about one of the Melbourne forwards receiving racial abuse (6 days ago).  


This incident will disappear in a few days. Previously there was an interview with Betts about a camp held in 2018 and that is now old news. Racial abuse still exists in AFL from "fans". This is  in both the men and women's league. Players will get abuse from their own "fans". This is just in the AFL.


It happens in many (if not all) sports.


Where and how these "skills" are learnt???


In some junior sports they are educating kids about sledging (not to do it).


Change is slow.

Community Member

Hi. I know this is about the AFL, but I understand the pain of expectations of manhood. I am actually a very emotional person, almost every disney movie i watch i get tears. But i never let them out. if im with family or friends i will always hold it in. I know that i can cry and that i dont have to conform to society that i have to man up. But i can never do it. iv been laughed at for doing "feminine" things like dressing up as an angel, or wearing nail polish. it can be so hard to feel yourself when your so scared to be that. saying dont care what people say is easier said than done. and by a long way. or maybe its that men judge themselves is the problem not other. I m about to cry in my room watching a show yet i cant and no one is here. its crazy to think about it.

Hi Rocketman and Smallwolf


Yes guy I was using the sledge in the AFL as one of the clearest examples in recent times of this traditional but frowned on practice. The social media comments that followed were deplorable and I must say, I wasn't prepared for the many Mancho "harden up" comments. One fellow claimed that the victim should not have cried "simply because he earns good money".


Smallwood, I've let my own guard down in that I'm usually hopeful for the future and young kids being taught not to sledge is a start in the right direction.


I'm 66yo. Those older than me I think, are the worst examples of the rubber stampers of abuse. "Back in my day" often precludes the endorsement for cruelty. I don't understand it and in a way I'm glad I don't.


However, there's a video from USA recently where a boy pitcher in a baseball game landed his throw on the batsman's head. Pitcher cried as he didn't mean to hurt him. Batsman walked to him and hugged him.



Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi TonyWK


I was actually somewhat enraged by a woman I know who commented on this incident. The lack of compassion and brutal degrading opinion she put forward seriously triggered me. She's normally a very feeling person so it shocked me, to hear her speak like this. I hate it Tony, I really do. The fact that people can't recognise what a raw nerve being touched in someone looks like is something I tend to question.


I think a raw nerve can be touched in just about anyone. It's easier to do if you know their history. I know there are a few raw nerves in the woman I speak of. I could have hit any one of them but why do that to someone? A sensitive person will feel the nerve being hit. For some, it may lead them to tears, for others it may lead them to be 'choked up', with them wanting to verbalise the impact yet choosing to hold it within their mind and throat. It can hit the heart, to the point where literal heartache is felt or it can feel stomach churning, almost sickening. Sensitive people, those who can sense or feel, can feel words and their impact. I believe this is one of the reasons why sensitive people/feelers are more careful with their words, compared to others.


The public don't know what's behind that footballer feeling those words so deeply. They don't know what that raw nerve is about, how it came to be. All they know is what they witnessed and they've judged (ignorantly) what they've witnessed, ignoring what lays behind the tears. That guy's worked damn hard to get to where he is in his career. With all that effort ignored by many, based on this moment of self expression, it infuriates me. As 'a feeler' myself, I feel so deeply for him as my heart goes out to him. With a child in every one of us, I wish I could hug the little boy in that man while leading him to easily master ignoring thoughtless insensitive people. 


From my observations, 'toughen up' equates to 'see how insensitive you can become, to the point where you feel next to nothing'. On the other hand, becoming more sensitive is what leads us to better sensing the depressing people around us we need to detach from. Those who face or have faced depression know what 'down' feels like. Why put or bring someone down intentionally? I believe we are witnessing the insanity of insensitive people.

Hi the rising,


I see the steam emanating from your ears. I feel likewise and am surprised and disappointed at the number of those promoting.. (demanding) for this young man to "harden up". Then there is the next level that have a greater need to humiliate "you're not a 12yo playing footy in school where you can cry" or the follow up comment "more like he isnt in kindergarten in the sandpit".


This element in humans I blanketly call the "cruel crowd" is the part of society that was partially responsible for my own rejection of society when in my 20's. As a 21yo warder in one of Melbourne's maximum security jails I saw things this sensitive young man should never have subjected himself to. The hardened attitudes of ruthlessness was unbearable. I left that job with the notion "if I cant beat them, I'll get away from them". This was because in general I had a "save the world" mentality that years later was corrected with good therapy. 


The "get away from them" remedy has served me well. It does however need a consistent application to humans I'm in contact with. It's not dissimilar to a mental trap door. Such rejected humans include the extremes of jealousy, nastiness, manipulation, the violent, the sexist, the racist and (apt here) the ones with expectations that are unrealistic and inconsiderate.


Re: " I believe we are witnessing the insanity of insensitive people." I never thought of it like that. I had thought "are these abusers just dumb? Is there an element of some humans that havent developed empathy? Is there a sport factor in this eg the factor in animal kingdom of - only the strongest survive? The most recent post about this a woman wrote "typical woke, would never have seen a real man cry on a footy field when my dad played". So I guess when players retire and break down while carried off the field these people look and think "typical woke". Isnt showing emotion or taking hurtful words about your dying mum and breaking down - natural? If so how can any decent human being expect us to reverse a natural emotion? Insane might be on the money.




Hi TonyWK


Was talking to my 17yo son just yesterday about the insanity of people. As I said to him 'One person's inner sanity will appear one way, whereas someone else's inner sanity may appear another way, based on beliefs and experiences. What comes across is a certain level of insanity, when both look at each other's beliefs and behaviours'. So, with that footballer, to the 'toughen up' people we will appear as insane and be labelled 'Too soft. Not able to recognise weakness when we see it. Ridiculous (based on the fact we should be ridiculed for our take on things, in their opinion) etc'. If seeing, hearing and feeling the need for greater consciousness and compassion is insane, I'm happy to wear that label with pride.


A wise person mentioned to me not long ago the struggle with greater consciousness. To be asleep to sufferance, neglect, abuse etc is easy. You don't feel what you have not woken up to yet. When you do wake up, you will begin to witness and feel all things wrong with this world. While you will feel deep compassion for those who suffer, those who are neglected, those who are abused etc, you may also feel the overwhelming sadness and the incredible rage that can come with greater consciousness. This helps explain why ignorance is bliss.


To all those spectators who witnessed the sufferance of that footballer and then dictated how 'weak' he is, in so many words, I'd like to say to them 'You do know your beliefs are not yours. They are outdated beliefs given to you by those who came before you. You inherited them from closed minded people who lacked compassion. Now, would you like to let go of other people's beliefs or would you prefer to keep them, while imagining they are your own?'.

Hi the rising


That is very interesting.  I'm picturing clones of humans mimicking each other. Peer pressure, parental influence, etc. For young males the lion "only the strongest survive" and "strongest" meaning physically aggressive, non crying, if crying it is interpreted as folding and they go in for the win. I've tolerated this all my life. Even developing verbal defence is an art. When physically threatened you need to choose an option... threaten greater to bluff your way in the hope he'll be as afraid as you? To try to reason? To run? 

I often say "all leaders of all countries should be women. Then we'd have no wars. Some laugh but I don't.



Hi Tony


Perhaps one of the reasons as to why women have been known to live longer than men, in the past, is based on the fact that women have a history of being 'venters'. You gotta channel that dis-ease out some way. For men, the degradation is terrible, when it comes to this form of venting (tears). I figure, whoever is doing the de-grading isn't really top of the grade when it comes to emotional intelligence, so who are they to judge. Emotionally intelligent people tend to bring their 'A' game to this experience called life. A+ if you're super emotionally intelligent or a super natural person 😄


We're definitely in need of some inspiring leaders in this world. Male or female, I believe the first course of action should be to take out all self serving, immature, bullying narcissistic non feelers and put in folk who feel deeply and passionately the way the world needs to head. Throw some real problem solvers and visionaries in there and some folk who put mental health and social reform high on the agenda. Add a dash of those who excel at conflict resolution. It's a recipe for success. That should all get rid of a large amount of currently sitting politicians. What we're being served up these days is rather unpalatable and even sickening to some degree. I have faith in this up and coming generation of feelers (those who can easily sense what's wrong with this world). They're an intolerant bunch, thank goodness.