The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

The Student News Site of Kent State University

a magazine

Boys do cry.

Art: Grace Carmen

It’s a terrible day to be the patriarchy. The secret is out and everyone knows it, the chiché motto “Boys don’t cry” is false. Boys, as much as girls, do cry– they are just taught not to. As a result, society produces emotionally-repressed men who will face anything but their feelings.

According to journalist Daryl Austin in an article for Today, men holding back their tears is not a biological effect, it is simply a societal norm. From a young age, boys receive an education that values strength, courage, leadership, capacity to provide and emotional restraint. This is done by limiting actions to a binary code: “Boy Behavior” and “Girl Behavior.” For example, girls play with dolls and boys play with cars. Girls like pink and boys like blue. Girls like ballet and boys like baseball. Girls cry and boys don’t.

Through this strict and misogynistic code, boys quickly learn that their emotions aren’t relevant to society because they are not “supposed to” show them. Therefore, as a result of emotional suppression, many men experience increased stress, anxiety, and depression, which according to a group of medical researchers in an article in the National Library Of Medicine, over time, bottling emotions may even unlock cognitive decline and cardiovascular disease.

Although men are mostly forbidden to cry based on societal norms, there are acceptable times when a man may cry and not be judged for it. However, these “crying windows” are kept to extreme or occasional situations, and they don’t last very long. Some crying windows may be the death of a loved one, or a life-goal failure like the end of a marriage.

To better understand this issue, we must dig deeper into the fragile expression of masculinity our patriarchal society prospects for men. We’ll measure these expectations on a masculinity points system.

Traits like:

• Dominance
• Power
• Ability to Provide
• Aggression
• Heterosexuality
• Emotional suppression

Will win you a whole lot of masculinity points!

Now, traits such as:

• Vulnerability
• Sensitivity
• Expressiveness
• Non-Competitiveness
• Tenderness
• Anything other than heterosexual

Will lose you a bunch of masculinity points!

This trivial arrangement represents what makes men feel validated as thriving males in terms of social norms. Despite being obviously unfunctional, this system makes men feel accepted and attractive. At the end of the day, nobody wants to be rejected, so if full emotional suppression is what it takes for men to receive validation, so be it. Except, this is extremely toxic and pointless.

If we concluded that men do have feelings and they do cry, when do they do it? The answer is simple: in private. When in solitude, men have an opportunity to embrace vulnerability and experience moments of emotional release.

When the pressure gets unbearable, according to Associate Professor Lieke Ten Brummelhuis for Harvard Business Review, emotionally repressed men often resort to women as a channel for emotional support. There wouldn’t be any apparent problem with men relying on women for emotional support, the issue is when instead of seeking psychological help for years of emotional baggage, men charge the women in their lives to take care of their unresolved emotional conflicts. It gets even worse when the female counterpart doesn’t get the same emotional support in return because men frequently trivialize women’s problems and justify them as being weaker or more emotional.

Most men don’t know how to provide emotional support because it diminishes their virility. Afterall, we weren’t even taught to process our own emotions–instead, we were taught to bottle them up.

As a society, we have constructed a dysfunctional patriarchal system that only generates hate, toxicity, misogyny and permanent mental health issues. In our emotion-despising culture, we neglect a fundamental aspect of our humanity: emotional freedom. While there is a strong focus on projecting dominance and courage to the external world, there is a crippling fear when it comes to confronting challenging emotions with emotional intelligence. It all encapsulates into one fundamental truth: men suppress their emotions in fear of feeling emasculated.

Boys do cry. It’s time we eliminate our suppressive norms and give way to an emotionally intelligent society where men do not dominate, violate and discriminate against emotional expression. The courage to cry and navigate hard feelings should be celebrated, not frowned upon, and we can take back the power of vulnerability.

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Hi! I’m Annie Gleydura, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine. 

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