Let's allow our men to cry when they want to
A quick question to all football fanatics out there who will still be reeling under the hangover of a month of thrills and spills from Qatar.
What is common between Rudiger, Suarez, Neymar, Ronaldo and Muller (in 2018) besides being topnotch on the turf?
They are men who we saw shedding copious quantities of brine from their eyes when their teams failed to make the cut. They were people who debunked the theory that men don’t cry, especially the chivalrous ones. They were warriors who we believed could take anything in their stride – the rough tackles, the stress of the battles, the high-octane crowds, the gargantuan expectations, and every other challenge that came their way. They were men made of steel, and they could withstand any hurricane.
However, none of this held true.
Whoever established the case that ‘men don’t cry’ in the name of masculinity and its attendant dogmas was a bona fide sadist. The theorist who laid down such a callous rider to human behaviour was perhaps a determined stoic or a man with zero emotional quotient. What they did by disallowing men to express veritable emotions was rob them of their innate tendencies to be essentially human. They deprived them the right to feel and give their feelings an open expression.
It is curious how we see a bawling boy and a girl as equals - children crying for a ‘reason’. But as they grow up, a wily set of rules gets ingrained into their brains. Men don’t cry. Rather, men shouldn’t cry. The disconnect between what the heart feels and what the face reflects becomes so deep set that eventually boys become men who spend a whole lifetime smothered by emotions they are not allowed to channelise. So where do our men go to vent their sorrows? How do they cleanse their system of the everyday frustrations and rinse their disappointments? Is it only in wine that they deposit their whines or is there a secret crying zone in their system that sheds tears unobtrusively and an invisible screen on their faces that hides their unspeakable sadness?
Let’s put the record straight. There is no disparity in the level of emotions that men and women feel. We have been fed with the fallacy of ‘unemotional men’ for far too long and our society has pandered to this doctrine with its strong patriarchal prescriptions.
Men have been trained to get a hold on their emotions. Crying is deemed inappropriate in their textbook of behaviour and social etiquettes. But then, when men feel their inner most core being ripped apart by an undigestible defeat or loss, how inhuman it is to expect them to swallow their sorrow and seem equanimous and composed! Why can’t pain and suffering be given its due outlet and let the men relieve themselves of its roiling aftermath?
To the men who we saw dropping to the ground in despair and baring their broken hearts at the end of a tournament lost, it was a moment of truth; a bitter moment that they had to come to terms with willy-nilly. And no social norm nor the echoes of their distraught fans could have stopped them from being what they are – feeling, pulsating, aching, suffering human beings. Nothing but an open, unabashed meltdown could have stanched their deep-cut wounds inflicted by the rout. That they let go of their sadness and acute misery unconcerned about the cameras that were zoomed on them without being cognizant of the fact that history will document their tears and make posterity remember them as men incapable of keeping emotional balance is a redeeming thing.
Death and defeat are ruthless in their capacity to break the human spirit, and no man has been created with enough will and fortitude to remain unfazed in the face of these afflictions. Those who remain so are either emotionally deficient, like cold-hearted criminals, or they are travestying poise in order to be seen as indomitable and heroic.
It is time we altered our evaluation of human emotions and the need to express it appropriately when required. Let men who want a good cry, cry. Composure is a virtuous thing to possess, but it has to be organic and hard-wired, and not foisted by norms. Like for instance, the man who took the cup home this time. Who would believe there wasn’t a twister of joy in his heart that could have swept him all the way to Buenos Aires when reality kicked in at the last whistle? The quietude he displayed wasn’t fake; it was his innate nature. He merely stood witness to the moment, not crying, not laughing excessively – just being as graceful as he is when he knocks the ball to the net.