Like a little girl

“Verklempt” is a Yiddish word meaning “full of emotion”. It’s fine to express happiness in today’s society but not sadness. Why?

I read Mike’s blog post about a great story and he said, “The Jason McElwain story almost brings me to tears every time I watch it.” Almost. I watched the same story and I almost cried as well. Heck, I watched the clip 3 times and got goosebumps and watery eyes every single time. But the tears didn’t fall because I held them in check for two reasons. I was about to go to class when I saw the clip and people tend to associate red, puffy eyes with something bad that happened.

Crying has been taboo in our society for a long time because it is associated with weakness for both men and women. If men cry, then they are “acting like girls.” If women cry then they clearly can’t handle life. In 1994, Sesame Street realized this trend and released a short film saying that it is alright for anyone to cry.

The video says that it’s alright to cry if you’re overwhelmed. Work and school present many overwhelming facets of life. Comedienne Tina Fey had this to say about crying in public or in the workplace in her book Bossypants, “Some people say, “Never let them see you cry.” I say, if you’re so mad you could just cry, then cry. It terrifies everyone.”

So crying clearly has an affect on more than the crier. For example, when I see men cry, whether in films or in real life, I feel more emotional than I would if a woman were crying in the same scene. Is it because I have been conditioned that when women cry, it’s normal but if men cry then something has gone really wrong?

A Jezebel video shows how men are portrayed crying in films and it’s usually supposed to achieve a comedic outcome or it’s the result of rage.

I have never seen my father cry. Ever since I was a child, I have seen more women cry than I can count. Is this because women are more sensitive or is it because men have been trained very carefully to never shed a tear?

In this extreme case, an award is offered to the first man to drop a tear onto the table. After over 30 minutes, not one of them can do it. A woman comes on afterwards and produces many tears in less than 30 seconds.

If we’re conditioning males to become emotionless tough machines, it isn’t a wonder that we see so much violence among males in our society today.


2 responses »

  1. Thanks for the link to my story, and appreciate you reading and enjoying it! And… caught me! Good pick up on the “..almost cried” from me after watching Jason’s story. I’m guilty. My experiences and background (team sports/military) have built a strong “men don’t cry” ideal into my subconscious. I cry, and I expect men to cry, but the cause has to be massive. Men are taught to conceal their emotions. I think some of this is due to simple primal survival instincts. How can you be the alpha male while breaking down into tears every time things get touchy? Or maybe we learn to control and sequester our emotions to survive due to needed control of male fits of rage and competition. If we didn’t learn how not to cry every time the idea passed through our heads, then could we learn to control the fits for physical violence and rage that come with testosterone and jostling for “male” position? I don’t know. Maybe we hide our emotions to protect us from both ends of the “lose control” spectrum. Just thoughts. It’s a weird phenomenon, that’s for sure!

  2. yea i think that it is very ingrained in our behavior, as men i mean, to conceal those sorts of emotions, at least in public. I beleive that there are many good reasons we may do that, I think that Mike pointed out some pretty strong examples.

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