Boys do cry

I want more men crying. On television. Particularly straight men. Not because I’m mean-spirited, but because I don’t want to be so surprised when I do see it. It bums me out that in our culture as a whole, men’s grief and other vulnerable emotions are undervalued and even mocked.

mancryingWhen something tragic happens to a male character—like their wife dying or their girlfriend breaking up with them—I want to see crying portrayed as the normal response. Think about it: when you’re watching any sort of television drama, the husband/boyfriend of a murder victim is sort of slightly sad, at most.

We regularly see women on television crying or being emotional when horrible things happen. Don’t men deserve the same full range of emotion? The rare times we do see a man cry, it’s generally used to show that he is weak. The show may even go so far as to portray him as laughable, effeminate, or worthy of derision by the other characters. The end result is that when we see men crying in real life, it can make us uncomfortable.

As I was writing this, I Googled “men crying.” The results are pretty telling: the top five all reinforce the idea that a man crying is unusual at best and unnatural at worst.

google

It hasn’t always been this way: tears are as influenced by culture as they are by biology. Other time periods have been much more accepting and even celebratory of men’s emoting, according to historian Tom Lutz.

When musician Pharrell recently cried during an interview, it made headlines and prompted hundreds of blog posts. And why shouldn’t he cry? He was discussing the success he’s had in his life, the importance of his grandma who helped him get there, and the impact of the song “Happy” on people all over the world. Those are a lot of complex, overwhelming emotions and I loved seeing him express them.

So here’s to more images of men crying! When we value the full range of emotion in all people and recognize that masculinity and vulnerability are not mutually exclusive, we set people up to have healthy and fulfilling relationships.

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Girls in sports

I was planning on writing this blog post about the Lingerie Football League and its recent announcement of plans to start a youth league. (In case you haven’t heard of the LFL, yes, it’s just what it sounds like.) I was going to rant a little bit about the mind-bending absurdity of claiming to strike a blow for girls’ empowerment by grooming them to play football in their underwear just as soon as it’s legal. Or how despicable it is that this “league” claims to break barriers for women while dismissing its players’ requests for basic safety equipment.

But then I realized I was falling for the oldest trick in the book. Curtis Cartier at the Seattle Weekly blog got it just right. This youth lingerie thing is a red herring calculated to stir up controversy―a.k.a. publicity―for an organization that really deserves less attention, not more. So, I’m not going to talk about that after all.

Instead, I’ll just say this. Giving girls real, meaningful opportunities in sports is important. Most girls still aren’t taught to develop their physical strength and skill as fully as most boys are. (In fact, research shows girls are actually trained to make themselves weaker.)  As of this morning, the top Google results for “girls in sports” include “hot girls in sports,” “hot Olympic girls,” and plenty of pictures of naked women. In order to change that we need to teach girls to value their bodies’ strength and agility for their own achievement, their own freedom, their own joy―not men’s entertainment or profit.