(LENS) Nocturnal Animals | Male Sensitivity

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*Spoiler Alert* You’ve been warned, people!

For those of you that don’t know me, you’ll come to learn that I LOVE LOVE LOVE movies. They have this ability to speak to me, that I’m not sure people quite understand. I get so much out them … They are a constant source of joy + inspiration for me. Well, you’ll see… ;)

I just recently rewatched Nocturnal Animals. Now playing on Netflix, if you didn’t know that already. I won’t lie, it’s a dark movie. Not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure. When I watched this movie the first time, I remember being so uncomfortable with Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as his character of Tony. Like why don’t you fight back? Why are you letting these punks treat you like that? And to be honest, it took me out of the movie a little bit because I was so unused to seeing Gyllenhaal play a character like that, I mean just watch Southpaw .. right?!

This time watching it, I was prepared. And it allowed me to take in so much more of what was going on. It’s definitely a movie that warrants multiple viewings — there’s a lot going on there … There are two storylines happening at once, somewhat mirroring each other. In ‘reality’ Gyllenhaal’s character Edward, is ‘accused’ of being, so sensitive, weak, a romantic, fragile … in the ‘alternate reality’, Gyllenhaal’s character Tony is seen + treated as weak and is taunted with phases like, What? Are you gonna cry? because he’s doesn’t react in a ‘typically’ masculine fashion. In the movie you find out, he’s just not built that way. And in my opinion, what’s heartbreaking is that he blames himself and the way that he is for not being able to protect + save his family.

This film challenges the idea of what it is to be a man. Asks the question, what is it be masculine? In all honesty, it got me thinking about my own prejudices about how + what I think a man should be, or perhaps, act like. On the one hand, I say that I want my man to be strong, sensitive, romantic, but when that was mirrored back to me in this film, I didn’t like it. It made me uncomfortable. And that gave me pause. It’s one thing for us as women to say that’s what we want, but when a man is vulnerable enough to show this side of himself, we recoil, or we perhaps aren’t present enough in ourselves + in the moment, to be able to hold this space for the men in our lives. And that upsets me because it’s such a double standard, and if we expect the men in our lives to be different, we are ourselves need to be different.

You all may be thinking that I’m talking about personal relationships + friendships, but you have to understand that the issue is so much bigger than that. If we are being this way in our personal relationships, then if anything, the situation is exacerbated in our professional relationships. Culturally, the professional environment leaves very little, to no room for feelings + emotions. Of any kind — whether you’re a female, but especially as a male. The difference, is that women have an outlet for these sorts of things, whether it’s talking to other females, or partaking of other resources that are available to them, generally. But what healthy resources + outlets do men have to move through and process these feelings. It’s generally not something that’s discussed or supported. It’s not fair, really.

Professional organizations operate primarily in the energy of masculine, which doesn’t help matters … where projects and people move forward quickly, it’s very action-oriented, and there’s very little time for reflection or the fact that we are actually humans, having a human experience, and that includes our emotions.

We are no longer in this industrial era set-up where we need to be in a space where we punch a clock, unconsciously crank things out, and call it a day! In this day and age, there is room for individuals to be fully embodied + expressed, while creating beautiful, well-intentioned products and/or services. We just have to be open to a new way of doing things, and be open to holding that space not only for ourselves but for the people that work around us, whether you’re in a position of leadership or not. And understanding with compassion, that if we are unwilling + uncomfortable experiencing emotion in ourselves, then most likely we’re not going to be able to hold space for the people in our lives to do so around us, either.

Calling myself on my own bullsh*t is not easy, I will say. But I do believe that creating an awareness in yourself about something that you would like to change is half the battle. It’s not really fair to expect someone to be or act a certain way and then not hold the space to support them in that.

Looking back, I think that’s it also very interesting that Gyllenhaal’s counterparts — Michael Shannon + Aaron Taylor-Johnson were both nominated for awards for what can be considered uber-masculine roles, and Gyllenhaal was not, although his performance, was on par — in my humble opinion. They all gave great performances. I suppose we’ll never know, but I do wonder if that cultural bias had anything to do with it … Definitely, food for thought.

Much Love, Always


Jessica Maloney