It’s over 40yrs since The Cure gave us that great pop song “Boys Don’t Cry”. Funny enough, as popular is it became and still is ( My kids love it ), the song didn’t even crack the top 75 when it was first released. Not everyone resonated with what the boys wrote about, but this song certainly did help a lot of young guys be more open about sharing their emotions. Robert Smith was writing from the heart, he was raised in a typical “Stiff Upper Lip” culture that discouraged displays of emotion. So good on him for challenging this attitude in his song.
However, here we are in the 21st century and men still carry the stigma of not being able to express their emotions comfortably for fear of being seen as weak. Ever had any of the following comments directed at you?
“Boys don’t cry” , “Man up” , “Grow some balls” , “Be a Man” , “Stop being a sissy”
Well sorry, I do cry, a lot more than I used to. I don’t know whether it’s an age thing, a mellowing out, but I find a lot more things move me to tears these days. Not always sad things. I cry when I read or watch acts of courage or sacrifice. I’m moved to tears when I see other guys get vulnerable and share their raw emotion. It makes me very proud too.
But I’m usually by myself. With all the work I’ve done on myself, there is still that little niggling voice that comes up sometimes that tempts me to hold back on being vulnerable, on showing my emotions. That’s how intense the social programming is , especially for guys my age and older. Things are better now of course as we are becoming more aware of the need to stop gender conditioning but it still has a firm grasp, particularly in western culture. You still see it in choices of colours, toys and hobbies that are assigned according to gender.
It usually takes copious amounts of booze before guys can open up and be more uninhibited. If we’re going to change things, us guys need to tear down the stigma associated with expressing our emotions. We need to stop joking about it and mocking each other and create of culture where men feel safe to share.
Boys can cry and so can men. When that’s just accepted as normal , we will truly have evolved