When they say men cry too, it is usually misread as a clarion call for men to always shed tears at the slightest. The champions of patriarchy often, in response to this, decry the attempt to “effeminise” men and turn the supposed pillars of our society into sobbing, unhelpful versions of themselves.
What’s the truth to this?
What is often missed is that the phrase men cry too is at its heart, a call for acknowledging men’s emotions. It’s not inherently about crying but about humanising men. It’s about taking away the untrue idea that men are unemotional creatures doomed to go through life without ever really being seen.
It means men are human too, and that’s okay.
It is a very dichotomous, black-and-white view of life that causes men to flinch at the concept. One that is in itself a consequence of the dehumanisation of men and masculinity.
Masculinity has been associated with a false sense of stolidity for so long, that whenever an attempt is made to add in some colour and depth, men themselves do not know how to deal with this.
We’re so often told that we need to be men in situations that have nothing to do with our gender at all. A man is expected to be a provider but is also somehow made to believe that this cannot be done while his emotions are considered.
This ideology is entrenched in men because it is taught and reiterated from childhood. The boy child is told not to express his emotions because he is a man and any expression of his emotional state is dismissed as unmanly.
The result of this internalisation is that we see threads on Twitter and WhatsApp statuses about how men should not cry because that makes them utterly useless to society. Men reject the possibility that their own emotions are valid because it’s often an entirely new concept to them.
This also stems from fear as well. If men have been told their entire lives that their emotions do not matter, what are they to make of this sudden change in the narrative? How can they expect and believe that their emotions will be taken into proper consideration and not used as a benchmark to measure their masculinity as it previously has?
Why is masculinity even so associated with a lack of emotions? There is some subtle misogyny to the idea that both intensifies and underscores the importance of the humanisation and relevance of men’s emotions.
That idea that men are utterly ineffective when they are in touch with their emotions alludes to the idea that women are less effective members of society because they, unlike men, are more in touch with their emotions.
Again, this is untrue. Emotions are felt by every human being. Pretending like you do not feel them doesn’t make them go away. They’re always there. Not succumbing to them is, of course, something that anybody is capable of, regardless of their gender.
The men cry too movement is not so much about an attempt to turn men into weeping messes, but about acknowledging and accepting the reality that men, like every member of our society, have emotions.
This means that we should not dismiss their emotions, but acknowledge and accept them. We should be aware enough of this emotional side that in our dealings with men, we treat them with the kindness and consideration that every human being deserves.
To the men reading this, I hope you let yourself accept this kindness when it comes your way. You are strong and courageous, and acknowledging your emotions is not going to take anything away from that.