I don’t know what it is. Is it the tears? Is it the unbridled emotion? Is it the mere thought that he and I are not all that different? Whatever it may be, I cannot help but be thrown into a state of bewilderment whenever it is that I see a man cry. I shan’t dare say that I look down on a man brave enough to shed a tear in the presence of another, rather I admire him. It is an admiration born in opposition to a horrid societal notion that men are expected to be stronger, more reserved, and less emotionally care-free than women. Unfortunately, this notion is so ingrained in us that it is often hard to fight against. As little girls, we are taught that a man will be our “rock”, a stoic sense of stability in our lives. We watch movies constantly reinforcing the fact that men who cry are “too” emotional, social pariahs unworthy of a woman’s respect let alone that of their male brethren. One day we may move past this stereotype and the thought that an emotionally mature man is anything less than enough will never enter our psyche. Until then, I will ponder exactly what it is that affects me so when I see a man cry.
The first time I saw my father cry I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what to do. He had always been that idyllic “rock” but upon hearing that a friend of the family had passed away, he began to sob. How was I supposed to react to this? I was young and everything I had accepted as fact was crashing down in front of me. “Why is dad crying?” “Men don’t cry.” “This isn’t right!” Panic set in soon after and I ran to my room because I couldn’t stand the thought of watching my rock crumble in front of me. I curled up on my bed and cried; I didn’t know what else to do. “Why would dad cry? Dad never cries. Men CAN’T cry!” After hours of analyzing the situation, a habit I have not outgrown, I decided that he had every right to cry. Why shouldn’t he be sad? Someone he cared about was gone forever, that is most certainly an acceptable reason to cry.
As the years went by, I assumed that men only cried in extreme circumstances: death, death, or… death. My theory proved correct for much of my life because as it seems, men themselves buy into this notion that they don’t reserve the right to cry unless behind closed doors. This theory has perpetuated the notion that if a man has let down his guard low enough to cry before you, the situation is grave indeed. I can’t help but cry with him, it is as though his pain is so strong that it is immediately transferred between us. Bewildered by pure overwhelming emotion, I will always find you bravest in that moment and I will always cry with you.