Wed | Nov 22, 2017

Letter of the Day | Let boys cry, let men cry

Published:Thursday | August 31, 2017 | 12:09 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

One day last week, while in my house I overheard my neighbour shouting at her young son, "Stop crying, only woman cry, I'm growing you to be a man, not a gyal". She issued the command three times and I couldn't help but think about the experience we shared 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 hypermasculine figures like 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 their 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. Imagine the amount of pent-up anger men carry on a daily basis because of that.

Let boys cry, let men cry.

Mikhail C. Williams

Youth Advocate

mikhailwilliamsart@gmail.com