Letters to the Editor

Let boys cry; let men cry

Thursday, August 31, 2017

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Dear Editor,

One day last week, while in my house, I overheard my neighbour shouting at her young son, “Stop crying, only ooman cry, I'm growing you to be a man, not a gyal!”

Repeatedly, she issued the command to end the flow of tears, and I couldn't help but think about the experience as a young boy growing up in an urban, middle-class suburb in Kingston, Jamaica.

I thought about the many times my own parents would issue the same command to me as a child because “men don't cry”.

Parents still reinforce sentiments shared by our African ancestors that only females in our society cry.

Whenever I think of these parents, I think about novels like Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, where the father character, Okonkwo, refuses to show affection for his son because it is unmanly. Parents are to be blamed for creating hyper-masculine figures who associate masculinity with aggression and a fear of being seen as weak.

How many times are we going to tell our little boys, “mi nah raise nuh gyal bwoy”; “save your tears for my funeral”, and the most emotionally dismissive of all, “Act like a man!”

Being female is the ultimate rejection — the ultimate dismissal of masculine power and strength.

We teach men to pull up pants, survive on their own, and fend for themselves, but we never really provide an outlet for them to express their emotions. Do we listen to our young boys when they're truly hurting inside? These men of ours, we raise them with such fragile egos and these are the same ones who will insult you once you point out anything feminine about them.

They can't rationalise or even begin to think about what their wives or partners go through on a daily basis when they see them break down because when we don't let men cry. We take away empathy. A lack of empathy creates a lack of understanding.

Just imagine the amount of pent-up anger men carry around on a daily basis because of that.

Let boys cry; let men cry.

Mikhail C Williams

mikhailwilliamsart@gmail.com

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