Monday, 22 September 2014

Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: Crying is For Girls

The first time I saw my father cry was at his mother’s service of songs. Even then it wasn’t a deep, heaving show of sadness; instead it was a steely, release of tears – quickly wiped away.
The next time I saw him cry was…
Wait, that was actually the only time I saw my father cry. At my brother’s death his skin was dark and ashy
and he seemed 10 years older than his actual age but I didn’t see any tears. He had lost his oldest son and there was no wailing, or running tears – just an outward show of strength in the face of utmost bleakness.
My other brother had sunglasses plastered permanently on his face, so I have no idea if he cried. Maybe the tears were well hidden by the sunglasses. Maybe they didn’t come, as a result of years of practice of ‘being a man’.
Apparently, crying, like sleep, is for the weak. In fact, I am told that crying is for little boys, girls and women. Real men, do not break down in fits of tears at every life event that throws them. Men remain sturdy and firm. They do not exhibit weakness, evidenced by running tears just because life doesn’t deal them the cards they want.
Girls, on the other hand, cry at every chance they get. Hey, they get proposed to by a man they’ve been dating for 8 years and they still cry. Someone comes on X-Factor, tells a sob story and the female judges are sniffling and hogging the box of tissues. Girls cry at their weddings – they’re soooo happy that they express their overwhelming joy by letting down the dam. Girls cry when they see cute puppies. Girls cry every opportunity they get.
Guys? Not so much – at least I don’t know any guy who expresses emotions by crying. It’s almost a universally accepted fact that MEN DO NOT CRY.
This has always intrigued me and because I am a sucker for socio-cultural and lifestyle dynamics. Why not?
A young lady that I spoke to about this said that a man who expresses his emotions by crying is a sign that something is terribly wrong. According to her she can’t stand a man who cries.  “There’s just something disgusting about a man who cries. There are other ways for men to deal with emotions.” She went on to say that she met a man who was wailing just because he wanted to win her heart and for her it was an epic fail.
One guy said guys aren’t allowed to cry – at least not publicly. Another guy said that crying is a show of weakness and men are not supposed to be weak. Another girl I asked said men are not supposed to cry. I asked why? She said, she didn’t know but it just shouldn’t be.
So how does a man express his intense feelings of sadness, grief, misery, displeasure if this option is not available to him… just because he is a man?
In trying to narrow down the source of this ‘norm’, I asked some friends, who are currently raising sons if it was something they consciously instil in their boys. A few of them said if they were doing it, they weren’t aware – especially since it was something they hadn’t consciously given thought to. Some of them mentioned that they raised their sons to show strength – especially those of them who with sisters. It was important that they realise very early that they’re meant to be the stalwarts when everybody (read as women and children) is crumbling in a fit of tears and despair.  One guy in particular told me that he wasn’t raising his son to be a wimp and he quickly snuffs out any signs of weakness being exhibited by the child. I asked how the child is supposed to deal with upsetting situations. “He will deal with it. Life is not a bed of roses. If he cries at every instance of trouble, what kind of man is he going to end up being?”
One man did mention that he didn’t agree that men weren’t supposed to cry. According to him, moderation was key. He noted that he didn’t want his son becoming broody and channelling his emotions in other self-destructive ways.  “If a man needs to cry to feel better, then he should. As long as he doesn’t turn himself into a whimpering weeping well. I think there’s nothing wrong with a man who isn’t afraid to express his feelings.
As the equilibrium of the world shifts towards more equality of genders, one is forced to ask questions like these: are tear ducts missing in the male anatomic construct? Are men conditioned not to express their feelings through tears? Have we reacted so shockingly to the sight of a weeping male that men signed a pact never to cry? Is this one of those things that are best left the way they are and passed on to the next generation of men?
Maybe women need to take a cue from men. Maybe we don’t have to cry every time we see random people getting engaged in the mall. Maybe watching Titanic the 1000th time shouldn’t get us bawling like crazy (*note to self*). Or maybe we just need a world where peace reigns, everything is yellow, bright and beautiful.
Just maybe. In the mean time, go out and have yourselves a fantastic and beautiful week ahead. Do something nice and uplifting for someone this week. Remember, you might just be the one who’d stop someone’s tears.
Peace, love & cucumber slices.

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