Monday, November 22, 2010

Its My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To

Jesus wept. Its the shortest verse in the Bible, and therefore the one that almost everyone else knows. But think about it for a second. Jesus didn't cry. Jesus didn't tear up and then look away. Jesus WEPT. Whether or not you believe the Bible's account of Jesus, one thing still remains: the mainstream Christian "hero" (if you will) wept. He gave way to tears. So if someone that so many people respect and even follow could break down crying, why can't a man today do the same thing without being mocked?

I'm not saying that I'm emotional. I'm not given to tears, I rarely get my feelings hurt, and my gamut of emotion is stereotypically male: I experience and express anger, frustration, disappointment, and relative happiness. Does this mean I've never cried? No. I've cried on several occasions, some more obvious than others. I've cried at funerals, for obvious reasons. But I've also cried at movies. I'd like to pretend that this isn't the case, but there are a few movies which actually made me cry. Now stop for a second. Right now, the majority of you reading this just passed judgement on me for crying at movie. If I were female and I told you that I'd cried at say, the Notebook, most of you would be understanding about that. You'd even agree with my emotional response. ("Yeah, the notebook was a pretty sad movie." "The ending is a tear-jerker" etc.) But as a man when I say that I cried at the end of the Notebook, (which, I did) I get labelled as being soft, or even less than masculine or effeminate. In fact, after disclosing this knowledge in casual conversation, I either have to defend my masculinity to a doubtful audience, or convince everyone I'm talking that I'm not just saying that to be funny and then defend my masculinity. But why is crying considered a feminine trait?

Tom Hank's character in A League of Their Own yelled the now famous line, "There's no crying in baseball!" When you think about it, that supports the stereotype that men don't cry. Sports are by and large considered a masculine endeavor. I'm not saying that girls don't play sports, nor am I arguing that they shouldn't. What I am saying is that the societal standard for children is that boys play sports and little girls who play sports at a young age get labelled as a "tomboy". That's why there's no crying in baseball. Its considered a masculine sport, and men don't cry.

On the TV show the Bachelor, Jason Mesnick cried on air, repeatedly, and his tears apparently were polarizing. When ABCNews talked to soldiers about whether or not it was okay for men to cry, they found two camps. One felt a man shouldn't cry unless a limb or a life was lost. (See the whole story here.) As a whole our society is split on this matter, but the general consensus is that a man only has tear ducts to wash dust out of his eyes.

What do I think? Men cry too. Its okay. To quote the Black Guy Who Tips podcast, "Man...stop hating." And start crying. It just might make you feel a little better.

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