A neuroscientist on National Geographic talks, seemingly through the television, to a thirteen-year-old boy who just lost his mother.
In our brain we have these things called neural pathways. They are like roads in our brain. Every time we do something repeatedly the road becomes strong. These repeated motions, well-used pathways, are called habits. When we change a habit the neurons in our brains slowly start to build into a different path.
For example, you are a boy and your whole life you have been taught to suppress your emotions. It is going to be hard for you to show your emotions now because suppressing your emotions has become a habit. Your mother dies and then the thinking part of your brain shuts off. And you know what part is activated? The feeling part of your brain. You’re sad, you start crying, but you haven’t cried in years. You see your family around you at the funeral, you feel like a coward. The feeling part of your brain starts releasing stress hormones: adrenaline. The primitive part of your brain reacts; you’re in a flight or fight response. (Frenzied) Three sections of your brain start running into each other: motion, feeling, thinking. You feel anger; in the heat of the moment, you ruin the funeral.
(Composed) And that’s one example of how gender stereotypes can trigger many different things inside the mind of a boy. Men are rewarded for suppressing feelings, programmed by society to release success hormones when not showing emotions, hormones that should be released when accomplishing something good.