While walking down a lane, I saw a family consoling their son saying “Why are you crying? Don’t behave like a girl!” The five-year-old boy had lost his favourite toy, and the first thing he did was to go to his mother and cry. His first natural response was “crying”. But instead of consoling him, his mother told him that “boys don’t cry”. A five-year-old who has just started learning what emotions are and how to express loss is being taught that crying is not for boys. Why do we say that? Why do we have to associate gender to an emotion which is our very first reaction the moment we come into the world? For the longest time, I could not cry because according to society, it is wrong; it made me look ‘weak’. People laughed at me when I cried because apparently when people cry, it is perceived to be funny.
We say that crying is for the weak. While growing up, men are taught not to cry and to resort to other emotions to deal with their issues. What we don’t realize is that crying does not make us feeble; it helps us build a better coping mechanism. There are many ways to address one’s feelings, and one of those ways is expressing it through tears. When a person cries, it shows that they are in touch with their emotions. When men are taught not to cry, they come up with different coping mechanisms. Some find positive ways to deal with it, and some find negative outlets. Most men, when they do not find a healthy vent out system, resort to aggression.
It is a fact that crying helps in releasing stress, and people tend to feel better after crying. When we tell a person, specifically a boy, not to cry, we are taking away their right to experience one of the most important emotions. When a person is raised in a manner where he is void of a particular coping mechanism, then he will be prey to more violent coping mechanisms. When parents see their boy crying, they ask him not to behave like be a girl. That boy was letting go of pent-up anger or maybe frustration through crying. When parents take away his right to cry, he will be forced to go towards something violent to let go of this feeling of resentment. Instead of dealing with it like positive emotion, he will start throwing things and breaking them. Parents will be angry and would look down on this behaviour, still, by the time parents realize this, their child would have already developed a negative coping mechanism.
A person boasting “I have not cried in years” should realize it is not something to be proud of. We need to acknowledge that crying is an emotion which is psychologically produced in our body and blocking this emotion can lead to mental health issues. Crying is not only a way to release stress, but it also shows that a person can address his emotions. A person who can cry is actually a strong person despite what others perceive.
Crying is not a gender-based emotion. Tears do not say that “We will not drop down your eyes because you are a man, and men don’t cry”. Let us face the fact that crying is for all, and it is a much better way of dealing with issues rather than shouting at people around or breaking things. Let’s not say man up when people cry, let us give them their space to cry in peace and move on over any loss. Crying does not make us fragile; it is the first step in the grieving process. Crying is just tears rolling down saying “I know what I feel and I am strong enough to face my inner feelings and do something about them”. Let us not make a big deal about a man crying; he is just attending to his mental health.