Why a manifesto for male emotions?


The manifesto for male emotions is the culmination of years of thought and comparative study between men and women’s different behavior.

The positive changes observed both in the clinical and in the corporate world point to interpersonal and emotional skills. Knowing one’s own and other people’s emotions, understanding them, and using them in a thoughtful way, is a resource that everyone has.

It has been rarely explained that emotional skills are almost entirely the prerogative of women and only partly the prerogative of men. It is possible to bridge this gap, but to do so it is necessary to promote a different conception of the male human being, at least as far as his emotional world is concerned.




Manifesto for male emotions

In memory of Giorgio Armenise


Keeping in mind some neuropsychological foundations

1. Unlike reptiles, mammals have developed emotions that are among some of the most evolutionary achievements necessary for survival.

2. This manifesto underlines the importance of the emotional world in human beings and highlights the ways in which culture modifies it, especially in males.

3. There are six universal emotions for both males and females: fear, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise, anger.

4. Neuroscience has identified seven emotional systems for both males and females: desire, anger, fear/anxiety, sexuality, care, sadness/panic, play.

5. Although there are some neuropsychological differences between males and females, these differences are not enough to explain men and women’s differing behavior.

6. Unexpectedly, unlike females, males at birth have a greater need for contact and comfort: they are more needy and yet this is usually denied and suppressed.


We noticed that

7. Notwithstanding these pillars regarding the similar way in which men and women experience emotions, different cultures have delegitimized some emotions in favor of others. The suppression of the need for contact in males, indeed, produces a chronic deficiency, which every man copes with in a different manner.

8. These cultural distortions have had negative consequences upon men and women, which have been profoundly neglected.


The trend of emotions in women and men

9. For centuries, women have been inhibited in their expression of anger, since they have been subject to male dominance unable to claim respect, to counter the injustices experienced, and make themselves heard; this incapacity is still extant, even though in some geographical areas things are beginning to change.

10. Men, instead, have had to repress the emotions of fear, sadness, and care that due to a distorted and unnatural idea of virility have always been considered as being unbecoming: come teenagers, males have already lost the use of two out of Ekman’s six emotions ( sadness and fear) and three out of Panksepp’s seven emotions (fear, sadness, and care).

11. The resulting emotional handicap nullifies millions of years of evolution that our bodies’ biological systems have gone through.

12. Emotions cannot be suppressed: they can only be moved. Anger is the most opted for wildcard emotion that hides suffering; anger, however, pushes away the people who are most needed in times of difficulty, thus only increasing suffering and loneliness.

13. Violence is one of the final consequences of suppressed emotional needs

14. This means that men are less relational/social than women, more lonely and much less willing to undergo treatment.

15. Not only do fathers involuntarily contribute to this state of affairs by their role model, but also mothers who expect their sons to suppress the emotional responses of fear and sadness, leading to a deficiency in emotional intelligence.


Physical and psychological consequences

16. Worldwide, the rate of male suicide is at least double that of female suicide, due to this differing management of emotions.

17. The higher rate of male mortality (about 5 years’ difference) is also caused by further consequences attributable to these emotional distortions.


History teaches us that

18. The handling of emotions has changed several times. The study of Homer’s heroes and the Epic of Gilgameš can reveal very original and modern alternatives.

19. Plato, instead, was the promoter of an opposite manifesto of male emotions, suggesting that “We [would] therefore be right to abolish the lamentations of famous men and to make them matter as women, indeed as sissies”.


We suggest that

20. Male human beings should be able to exercise the freedom to perceive and express the same emotions that any human being can feel, without incurring derision or discrimination.

21. When faced with situations that can cause physical and psychological pain, or danger, men should be as free as women to feel fear or sadness, to be able to express it and to receive the appropriate emotional response.

22. Men should be free to show uninhibited care that has been repressed and censored up until now.

23. Men should not be forced to deny and hide their fragility and vulnerability that is typical of every living being.


The results of this change

24. Heightening emotional intelligence in males would draw their emotional world much closer to the female one, making human environments better than they are today. Indeed, unlike male’s, women’s emotional intelligence, as described by Goleman, is centered on empathy, democracy and collaboration, care towards others, leading by example, and concern for the ones who are left behind. By heightening emotional intelligence in males, the gap between males and females could finally be bridged.


Quotes and subscriptions

"All human beings have the same emotions, sometimes we males forget we have them, or we are ashamed of them, or we find it very difficult to express them. Alberto Penna's Manifesto encourages us to venture towards a profound awareness and provides us with the secret of relationships and connections, that are respectful of the other and welcoming of ourselves." 
Giacomo Poretti, actor

“Having read it, I can see how important it is but also how women will have to change almost as much as men in terms of facilitating and enabling men to express their vulnerability and caring emotions through their participation in the caring of their children.” 
Felicity De Zulueta, Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer in King’s College London, UK

"Interesting statement. I agree with most of it, especially that the emotions of men and women don't differ much and that it's mostly a difference in 'display rules' that we see in daily life.” 
Frans De Waal, primatologist, professor at Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA 

“An incomplete development of emotions often turns fear and sadness into anger towards others or towards oneself. In men, educated to deny these emotions, it produces a heavy fallout in terms of damage to the individual and to the community. This Manifesto has the undoubted merit of showing in a clear, precise and accessible way a problem that men are the first to underestimate. I consider this Manifesto an important first step towards a future of greater awareness in which emotional development will be increasingly gender-neutral.” 
Massimo Fenu, Director of Krav Maga Global Italy 

"An important contribution for future generations, which contrasts a taboo in our society. Males compared to females struggle to be aware of their emotions. Bridging the gap between men and women could be considered another great step forward in human evolution." 
Mario Palmisano, 2004 world rowing champion, Sydney 2000 Olympic rowing champion 

"Legitimizing the emotional world is the first challenge in any approach aimed at improving people's psychological well-being. I believe that the Manifesto is a synthetic and complex document, a punctum on the male emotional world that simultaneously legitimizes universal emotions. The three languages ​​in which it is published implicitly underline its universality, referring to cultural domains and superstructures rooted in different contexts." 
Agostino Vietri, professor ISPPREF Salerno, Italy 

"I subscribe to Alberto Penna's Manifesto, the result of an important research work that can shed a lot of light on the origin of differences between men and women based on cultural stereotypes that condition the quality of care given to both in the course of their growth It is a perspective that makes us freer and puts us more at peace with ourselves, with the human and natural environment of which we are a part.”
Antonio Romanello, Psychologist Psychotherapist, Director of the Change School of Bari, Headquarters of the Study Center for Family and Relational Therapy in Rome

"Many therapists are content to work with women and are afraid to involve men, who are less accustomed to using the emotional register of self-care and self-analysis. Therefore, the call of this Manifesto to deal with the emotions of males, unjustly neglected, is welcome."
Stefano Cirillo, co-director of the Mara Selvini Palazzoli School in Milan