Since the very beginning, it has been said that men are physiologically and emotionally stronger than women and this is a commonly accepted notion. India being a nation boasting of having a predominantly patriarchal society it has been practicing and promoting this belief for a long time. In fact, showing any sign of softness or any show of emotion is considered to be shameful for a man. It is believed that it is not okay for men to cry.
Being emotional and soft is considered to be a sign of being feminine, which is blindly synonymous with a weakness for many in Indian society, even in the present day. In fact, the recent breakdown of ISRO chief K Sivan, after the breakdown of communication with Vikram Lander of Chandrayaan 2 has led to a lot of debate, whether it was okay for a man of his stature to cry on camera.
Indian men do cry. Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Ranveer Sigh, Abhishek Bachchan have all cried some time or the other in intensely emotional moments. Tennis star Roger Federer’s breakdown at the Wimbledon Court in 2009 after Nadal beat him to the title, is another moment in history that saw a champion cry. But Andy Murray followed him in 2012 and there have been ample occasions when international sporting stars have shed tears after a win or a loss, in full public view.
In the western world it is already acceptable that men who lead, also cry. Is the image of the macho, alpha Indian male changing then? Are men allowed to be emotional? Are men allowed to cry?
We spoke to psychosocial analyst Aman Bhonsle and asked him how society perceived men who cried.
Is crying okay for a man?
I think all emotions are okay for both genders. Crying is an expression of sadness, an outlet through which an individual wish to express their grief. I mean, I don’t really see emotions as something to be segregated based on a person’s gender.
So, it’s all right if a woman cries, but not okay when a man cries?
I think these are archaic ideas and are based on the kind of the caveman logic that perhaps we had in the past because back in the old days if a man cried, we automatically used to assume that his leadership and his position as a patriarch is compromised in many ways. It was seen in a way, as his inability to lead his tribe.
Societies are highly patriarchial, particularly Indian society…
Yes. That’s what it is. A man’s role as the leader, the breadwinner of the family is a position which is one of strength. In fact, strength is one of the main requirements because strength is a factor which comprises decision making. So, when a man cried in the past, it was seen as his inability to keep his act together, and perhaps, be a source of inspiration for others. It compromised the very concept of keeping things together. He was called weak.
But now, leadership is not limited to any particular gender. In the present day, leadership does not only mean your ability to lead a family. You can be the front face of everything, you can be a mother with a flourishing career.
In the modern era, it is absolutely okay for a man and a woman to cry. It is not something which is to be analyzed particularly.
But you know, what happens our movies feed our brain with this kind of logic that the man comes crashing through the windows of the warehouse to save the woman from the gundas all these depictions build our notions that the man is the ultimate protector for the woman.
“Mard ko dard nahi hota”, “Men don’t cry” all these are notions with faulty logic. These are archaic and give rise to cases of depression.
Worse is many are self-medicating without even consulting a medical professional or taking a specialist’s guidance because they are so lost and they have been conditioned to keep their emotions hidden, throughout their lives. This is not very healthy- emotionally, physically and socially.
“Guys don’t cry”, “Real men don’t cry”- are these myths?
These are peddled myths, these are stories that have been told since the olden days and somehow they have even lasted this long. In my opinion, saying that men don’t cry is equivalent to believing in superstitions. It’s the same thing for me. It makes absolutely no sense.
Do men cry when they are in love?
Of course, they cry. In Shah Rukh Khan’s movies, he has cried whenever he has been in love. All men cry when they are in love. Rajesh Khanna has cried in most of his movies! He was the romantic lead in most of his movies. Amitabh Bachchan has cried; Salman Khan has cried in Tere Naam. It becomes okay when they cry in the movies, right?
We cry when we are unable to find a solution to our problems. Crying is a sign of our minds and our bodies giving in. Crying is that response, regardless of gender, sexual orientation and irrespective of how much money one has.
When does a man cry in front of a woman?
When he feels that his crying might reveal certain truths to her, of his agenda to her.
If crying accomplishes a certain purpose, he may choose to cry in front of a woman. He may not have voluntary control over himself at that moment and he may cry in response or as a reaction to something the woman has done or said or something that has complicated or compromised the relationship that they share.
Is it okay for a man to cry after a breakup?
Of course, it’s okay for a man to cry after a breakup.
Of course, it’s alright. How else is he going to process those emotions and get those emotions out?
After all, the woman he was with, he wanted to be with, is no longer in his life. Crying is an outlet, regardless of gender. It has nothing to do with a person’s gender.
So things are changing. Boys should not ever be told, “Boys don’t cry.” Instead, tell them you can cry it’s a natural instinct to do so. It’s okay for men to cry.