While walking down a lane I saw a family consoling their son saying “why are you crying, don’t behave like a girl”. A five years old boy lost his favourite toy and the first thing he did was, he went to his mother and cried. His first natural response was “crying”. What do you think would have been his mother’s reply? A very simple reply, reply that we all may have thought of while reading that statement “boys don’t cry”. A five years old who has just started learning what are emotions and how to express loss, he is being taught that crying is not for boys. Why do we say crying is not for boys? Why do we have to associate gender to an emotion which is our very first reaction when we step in the world. For the longest time I was not able to 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 crying is for weak people. While growing up men are taught not to cry and to find other emotions to deal with their issues. What we don’t realize is crying does not make us feeble it helps us to build a better coping mechanism. There are many ways of addressing how one feels and one of the ways is showing 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 mechanism. Some find positive ways to deal with it and some go to more negative side of emotions. Most men when do not find a healthy vent out system they resort to aggression.
It is an established 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 mechanism. When parents see their boy crying, they say don’t be a girl. That boy by crying was letting go of pent up anger or may be frustration. When parents take away his right to cry he will be forced to go towards something violent in order to let go of this feeling of anger. Instead of dealing it with positive emotion he will start throwing things and breaking them. Parents will be angry and would look down on this behaviour but still by the time parents realize their child would have already developed negative coping mechanism.
A person boasting “I have not cried in years” is not something to be proud of. We need to acknowledge that crying is an emotion which is psychologically produced in a body and blocking this emotion leads to mental health issues. Crying is not only a way to release stress but it also shows that a person is able to address his emotions. A person who is able to cry is actually a strong person which is perceived to be as contrary by others.
Crying is not a gender based emotion. Tears do not say that, “I will not drop down your eyes because you are a man, 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 on people around or breaking things. Let’s us 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 grieving process.