Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Should Men Cry?

On the radio this morning, the question of the day is 'Should Men Cry?' One of the DJ's said that he doesn't cry and he's taught his son's not to cry also. He said that crying is weak and no woman wants to be around a man that cries. Male and female callers are phoning in to voice their opinions on the subject.

I think men should be able to express their emotion and if crying is a result of that then that's fine. I think it can be unnerving to see anyone cry, man or woman. Sometimes you're caught between thinking you should reach out to comfort them to wondering if they want you to reach out to them. One of the men, that I saw cry, is the epitome of masculinity. My friends and I called him 'MAN'. When he cried, it was because he was really frustrated with some things that were going on in his life and he felt like he had little control over the outcome. Seeing him cry was difficult. I figured that if this man that can seemingly do everything, felt helpless then the situation must be worse than I ever knew. I let him cry on my shoulder for a minute or two. He composed himself and I never brought it back up to him or anyone else. I didn't think any less of him. The fact that he allowed me to see him in such a vulnerable state made him more endearing. Eventually, he was able to work through that rough situation and he came out on top. Even now, years later, after everything is all good I would never disrespect him by teasing him about how he broke down that day on my couch.

I think that's the big difference between men and women when it comes to crying. I've seen men be relentless toward a friend that has cried in front of them. I can understand why a man wouldn't want to cry. I've seen guys get teased years later about a moment of 'weakness'. Maybe if men felt more comfortable crying, they'd be more comfortable expressing other emotions.

On the flip side, sometimes I think women make it hard for a man to feel safe enough to express such extreme emotions. We want the man to be 'the man' and we can be very rigid about what that means. Maybe we need to develop a more holistic view about what man-ness is.

So, what do you think? Is it ok for a man to cry?



Anonymous said...

YES. It is okay if a man cries. Most men hide their weaknesses and insecurities in a closet. Never to be seen by anyone. Even forgetting what has been hidden inside them. Our house is clean and sturdy; just do not go into that closet. Once an event causes us to look into that closet; what do we see? What has formed in place of all that junk? Mirrors. Showing us all that we forgot about ourselves. What happens next? We slam that door shut.

Now women learn to live with those mirrors hung up around their homes. Constantly reminding them who they are, where they came from and where they need to go.

Fellas let hang up some mirrors.


news2me said...

Yes, it is OK for a man to cry. It is unfortunate to even be asking the question. I am a woman and I know I'm strong and all that good stuff, but if someone told me it was not OK to shed tears, I'd tell them to go straight to Hell. What's more damaging is not being able to show pain, happiness, sadness, and joy in a way that is most comfortable to you - you hold it in and you become toxic. I don't want a toxic man - do you?

I was watching a show the other night where Dr. Laurie Berman, a sex therapist/counselor, works with couples for about a week to delve into intimacy issues, sex issues, lack of sex issues. Of course, the issues aren’t rooted in sex –they rarely are. The issues were lack of trust due to infidelity in one couple (more than one time), being raped/molested as a young girl in another couple, and the experience of war in another couple. Eventually, each of the men cried. Each of them ultimately admitted to feeling a hurt so great that it brought them to tears. Should they have held the tears back b/c we live in a society where we think men are weak for crying? I argue NO.

Let me get a little further into each story I saw. One man cried because he felt helpless in soothing his wife through the hurt/pain of being molested as a child. After she became a mother herself, these feelings of inadequacy and of being dirty in some way crept into her marriage and she couldn’t even enjoy her husband’s touch. Another man cried because he and his wife had grown so far apart and just couldn’t enjoy each other and fought and fought. They were a couple that used to laugh, play, and enjoy each other’s company. One day during a fight, she walked out the door and he felt it was over then. She begged him to let her back in and he wouldn’t. He said that was the worst night of their married life and when his infidelity began. She wanted the marriage to work but knew that she needed to build trust in him again. As they recounted that night, they both cried. Another man cried because he started to share stories of his tour of duty in Baghdad. His unit was guarding a perimeter and had to check every vehicle coming through. Two vans coming wouldn’t stop and his unit had to open fire – it was men, women, and children. He couldn’t get over that night. The visual played itself in his head over and over. He recalled many other nights when he barely escaped death. His girlfriend said he came back numb, with no feelings. She moved out after some months, because she felt he didn’t love her. He locked the door to his emotions. Once he started sharing the stories with her, he cried, but it started opening the door. I ask again: Should they have held the tears back b/c we live in a society where we think men are weak for crying? I argue NO.