“They say a man not supposed to cry– Black Cloud, by Kevin Gates
Tell me why these tears keep fallin’?
We die to live, but we live to die
I could feel my heartbeat often”
I recently went down a Reddit rabbit hole. A user posed a question that may seem like bs to some, but it inspired some thoughtful and robust replies. The question was, “what’s the hardest thing about being a man?”
Yes, I’m down with smashing the patriarchy and acknowledging that I have male privilege. I’ve said it many times sexism hurts all genders and sexualities. But it didn’t stop men in this Reddit thread from baring their souls and sharing some of the insecurities and challenges all men have to navigate.
The men in this thread had lots of thoughts. Some thoughts were about being a man and working as a preschool or elementary school teacher. Them avoiding not being perceived as a child predator. Even single dads with small children deal with this negative perception when they go to a PTA meeting or playground with their little ones. SHAME! Men talked about coping with going bald or custody battles with ex-partners. One thread took the cake and filled me with great disappointment.
Some men discussed the shame they faced when they cried. Many men in this thread commented that they were shamed by lovers, friends, and family members for showing emotion and vulnerability. Some men dealt with the loss of a parent or family pet or just watched a movie that moved them. They cried, a normal ass human reaction.
According to men in this Reddit thread, that was a big no-no. One person talked about how a girlfriend said it made her see him as weak for crying after his dog’s death. Another man spoke about his mother shaming him for crying after hurting themselves as a child. There were many comments about men and boys being told that crying is something they aren’t supposed to be doing.
The name of this site is the Evolving Man Project. I like to think we encourage and uplift men to be vulnerable. This is a good thing. Men are human beings too. Bottled-up emotion can become toxic and, in many cases, violent. The vast majority of mass shooters are primarily men. Men deal with higher rates of suicide, addiction, being perpetrators of rape, and being the cause of domestic violence (men can also be victims of abuse in heterosexual and same-sex relationships). Men are told to be unemotional and stoic. Bottling up emotions comes from men being told that since a young age, they must “man up.”
If you go through life like this, those pent-up emotions will one day boil over. And the worst of our human emotions, rage, will erupt like a volcano if a person has spent their life repressing their feelings. I’m a licensed social worker, a man, and a person who’s experienced rage in its most violent form. A psychotic break. It’s not good to never unpack how you feel. It ends terribly for many men, myself included, and I have the scars to prove it.
I want to say it’s okay for men and boys to cry sometimes. I cried like a baby when I watched the movie Powder on cable back in the 90s when I was eleven years old, I cried at my best friend’s wedding this fall, and I cried when my now wife said yes when I popped the question.
Its nothing wrong with men, women, and people who identify outside the man-women gender dynamic to express the range of human emotions we all experience living this weird, crazy, and beautiful journey called life. Boys are told that crying or expressing emotion is something that we shouldn’t do. It’s wrong to shame men for expressing their feelings.
Showing emotions doesn’t make you weak or less of a man. This shows again how patriarchy harms all people thanks to traditional ideas surrounding masculinity and femininity. It limits who and how we can express ourselves. It puts people into confining boxes. I say fuck those boxes!
Vulnerability is the most incredible show of strength a person can express. It means allowing yourself to be at the most ease with your family, friends, or community. You have a human side and can be vulnerable in times of sorrow or happiness. It’s lots of reasons why people cry. The world needs more of that, especially from men. In a world with high suicide rates, particularly among military veterans. It shows that the boys don’t cry mentality has hindered men. It doesn’t help that these faux Alpha Male types in the Manosphere space keep telling men they need to be in this type of box to be a ‘real’ man.
Too many men suffer in silence because they’re afraid their loved ones and the larger society will judge them for showing little emotion. Life can be harsh and unfair at times. We lose friends, lovers, family members (including the furry ones), jobs, homes, and minds. These all can be genuinely traumatic events. We all should be free to express our grief positively and healthily, including crying over that loss.
I was happy to see in the Reddit comments that many of my fellow men were in agreement with my sentiment. It’s great to see men lift each other up and not judge a friend if he needs a shoulder to cry on. So, in the end, boys do cry. And that’s okay!