In literacy class, we had a project to write an article about any topic relating to gender equity. My article is about why is it a wrong thing to teach boys not to cry.
Emotion is an astonishing ability that nature has given to us, that made us superior to other animals and organisms. They allow us to understand other and other to understand us. So, why should we teach boys not to cry? We allow ourselves and our people to lose this wonderful connection, to enclose ourselves in our own little worlds where we forget, or chose not to feel those emotions, not appreciating all those gifts that make us human.
Boys and girls cry the same amount when they’re babies and toddlers, research shows. “It’s around age 5 that boys get the message that anger is acceptable, but that they’re not supposed to show other feelings, like vulnerability.” said Tony Porter, co-founder of A Call to Men.
In Cambodia, as well as many parts of the world, elders often teach boys not to cry. They believe that crying is a representation of weakness. They also believe that boys need to be strong and tough; therefore, the perfect way to do it is by not letting boys cry.
One common phrase that Cambodia elders always told to the boys is “ធ្វេីជាកូនប្រុសសូ៑បង្ហូរ ឈាមមិនបង្ហូរទឹកភ្នេក” which translated as, “Be a son rather bleed than tearing”.
We allow our daughters to be human beings where we allow them to show their emotions, but do we really want to teach our sons to be robots and bury their emotions? Absolutely not.
Cara Shelton, a literacy teacher at the Liger Leadership Academy, believes that it is unfair and could end up very dangerous for not letting boys to express their emotions. She stated “I think it’s unfair because all people feel things and all people have emotions. But it bothers me that only women seem as emotional. It’s a privilege sometimes that women can express their emotions without being criticized, however, I think emotion has been seen as weak. So when you express your emotion you are often are seen as weak and you aren’t taking seriously.” She continued, “ When boys are taught not to cry and be tough it can allow violence and bullying to happen. It seen as more appropriate for the boy to make fun of each other, to bully each other, and to hit each other.”
When they are not expressing their emotions, it seen that the problem is getting bigger and bigger and soon they can’t hold on to it. This can cause them to get depression, and can lead men to suicide. Research showed, globally death by suicide occurred about 1.8 times more often among males than among females in 2008, and 1.7 times in 2015. In the western world, males die three to four times more often by means of suicide than do females.
Historically, we taught the boys to not cry and show emotion to avoid appearing weak. After all, this phrase repeated in every generation and everywhere in the world. Depression can be a serious problem if emotion can’t be expressed. We can’t just bury our emotions and instead we should appreciate all those gifts that make us humans. Men need to start getting over that stereotype or that expectation that they always need to be tough because in the long run it could really hurt them.