No crying, please, boys!
The public message on television says it all too clearly! The camera pans on a little boy's face, a little boy who has tears running down his cheeks. The reasons may be galore - either he has been bullied by somebody, or he has fallen and hurt himself. Maybe his friends didn't want him to play with them! Or it could be a deeper hurt - his father has walked out on him and his mother. Or his pet has just died and his tender heart is breaking!
Whatever the reason, the message is, 99 times out of a 100, the same. "Don't cry! You're not a girl!" and "What's wrong with you? Don't you know that only girls cry?" "How dare you be a namby-pamby?" Parents repeat this like a litany, classmates enforce it, and the world turns into a war zone, with emotions battling it out with attitudes that refuse to ever change.
It is said that most of a child's learning takes place at his mother's knee. And if mothers reinforce the above message, their little boys grow up, ashamed to cry and to show their emotions. However miserable they feel, they maintain a stoic exterior, having learnt to keep their chins up and "to take it like a man", much like in the British public schools of yore. "Hey, old chap, don't be a ninny! And don't let the other blokes catch you crying!"
The public message goes on to show how the little boys grow into big strong men, who refuse to cry. They swagger around like heroes, not realizing how bad it is for their hearts to bottle up their emotions. For the heart is like a pressure cooker that explodes when it is subjected to too much pressure! This is why men are more prone to heart attacks than women are.
But the public message does not end there. There are times when all those emotions play havoc with the emotions of loved ones as well. The message continues to show shots of a battered woman, her face all bruised, sitting in abject depression, finally glancing at the man who has done this to her, a strong man who knows not how to cry, a big man whose emotions are all churned up within him, a relentless man who does not know where to stop. If only he had been allowed to cry, allowed to be more human and humane!
Happily, the final statement says it all. "A real man is not one who does not cry, but one who does not make women cry!" A real man respects women, and does not abase them. A real man can be tender and loving, not harsh and judgmental. A real man is allowed to cry and show his emotions!
Now that makes sense, doesn't it?