A Bit of A Rant – But It Is Only the Tip of the Iceberg


                I just finished reading a blog post about weakness. And in that post, weakness was personified as feminine. I could not get past the fact that terms used to describe weakness—not the least being “he cried like a little girl” are offensive and merely lend credence to the fact that we are not as far in this journey of equality as I thought. The post was probably a good one, but I could not get beyond the way that feminine traits are looked upon as weak.

                I admire a man who cries—he is not weak—in fact he is usually so strong in his convictions, in his compassion, in his beliefs—that this outlet is far from being weak. And when a woman cries—it is because that is how she becomes brave—that is how she gets over things—that is how she temporarily expresses her anger, frustration, and sometimes, compassion for others.

                Whenever I see tears well up in my husband’s eyes, I know that he has been touched deeply by things—and to be touched deeply is not for cowards. It is a deep disservice to men (I am the mother of two boys) to have their feelings taken away from them. To disrespect someone, to mock someone, to make fun of someone for being “soft” is outrageous.

                I do not mean soft in not having strength of conviction, in being spineless, or lax and pathetic. I mean soft as being flexible, sympathetic, gentle, sensitive, and soft-hearted.

                Men and women need to give men permission to feel and to express their feelings in ways that do not entail punching a hole in a wall, spouting angry words, or making fun of perceived weaknesses.

                As a woman, I cry. And I always feel I have to apologize for crying. Yet it is a real expression of real emotions, real feelings. And I should not have to apologize. Nor should you have to apologize to me for crying.

                Equality has a myriad of faces. That there is even the question whether or not men and women are equal angers me. Men should not feel the burdens they do; women should not apologize for their independence. It is so basic and so ingrained in me that I cannot see the other side of this issue. As far as I am concerned there is no valid argument for inequality. And once everyone agrees that men and women are irrevocably, conclusively, forever equal — men will not be made fun of for expressing their emotions; and woman will not be looked upon as weak.

Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 12:43 pm  Comments (44)  
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44 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree on every point, here, LouAnn. Our feelings are what make us human and gender should have nothing to do with feeling or expressing emotions.

    • so true – we should not be bullied into not feeling or apologizing for feeling

  2. Excellent rant LouAnn….and all of it spot on!!

  3. Great rant, should be more of them. As a man who gets emotionally moved over films, etc I have never looked at the mechanics of why, this has made me think. Thank you for ranting.


    • everyone should have permission to feel their feelings–the very fact that I have to say that is too bad

  4. Bravo! Couldn’t agree more…..you put my thoughts into words very succinctly.

  5. I was raised that it was okay to cry. It was a bit of a jolt when I tested that theory in the company of others, but it certainly ingrained in me the idea that tears aren’t weak, and that someone else crying doesn’t mean “pretend you don’t see them.”

  6. I’m right there with you Lou Ann – such biases (aside from being wrong on all counts), are also tired, trite, offensive to both sexes and ultimately diminishes some of our finest human qualities.

    • tired and trite are so correct–aren’t we past this–you and I have sons and we want them to be able to face life fully and without preconceived notions of manhood

      • It’s true – to the good and to the ill they only had me for the first years of their lives (until they were 10 and 8), so they got a very good dose of the perspective that any and all emotions are acceptable to both men and women. That said, the younger of the two occasionally vacillates between society’s perception of ‘macho’ and mom’s.

      • society can be a very strong master sometimes–I know whereof you speak

  7. Crying and/or showing emotion is a sigh of strength not weakness, whether the emotion is displayed by female or male. I think that is slowly changing. Each generation loosens some of those old ideas. We are equal and we are different (women and men) and that’s a good thing.

    • we are equal and we are different and I would never want to change that–I so agree that showing emotion is a sign of strength

  8. My son has cried in front of me several times, even now that he’s older (11 years old) and more aware of his emotions. I always let him cry, offering him my shoulder and let him get the pain or sadness and frustrations out. You are so right, this is what makes us stronger, both men and women, there should be no difference in how we accept our sensitive sides.

    • love your observation–“there should be no difference in how we accept our sensitive sides”–and it is parents like you that will make the difference

  9. Well said – and even though we were raised with the traditional “suck it up” attitude, my husband and I have witnessed the full range of emotion in each other. Not many others have seen it.. but still. 🙂 You have to have someone you feel safe to let loose with, I guess.

    • trust is absolutely the key – I was brought up with the suck it up attitude–unfortunately my bootstraps broke–fortunately I have had help repairing them

  10. I am glad that the men in my life can cry — it makes them special because it means that they don’t “suck it up.” I have to give great credit to my husband for showing our sons that tears are neither feminine or weak. When my boys talk about things close to their hearts, I can see tears in their eyes. They first saw it the day their father broke down into tears upon learning that they would officially become our sons through adoption. And the lessons do not stop. Last year as we repeated our wedding vows during our 25th wedding anniversary celebration, my husband openly cried. When I looked at my sons, who shared the honor or best man, the tears were flowing from their eyes as well. Tears are a language that expresses feelings that cannot be expressed in words. Not every man understands that. Sandy

    • this has to be one of the most wonderful comments I have ever received–it illustrates exactly what I was saying–you are lucky to have these boys and husband in your life–but I think they are lucky as well to have you — you have obviously done something right!

  11. You’ve received a lot of comments..which I haven’t read because it may cloud what I would say… and I too believe that when a man has tears in his eyes..it is not a weakness or a girl thing…but an honest , open expression of how he is feeling at that moment… It touches my heart..Diane

  12. Wonderful post!! I have always believed that it is very healthy to cry, and I never apologize for it! Whether male or female, crying shows that we have a heart, and we feel and care. It is also a great way to release pent up emotions and start the healing process, whether it be overcoming anger and frustration or dealing with grief. As for men, I personally think more of a man who is not afraid to show his emotions because to me he is showing that he is sensitive, and that is a great quality in any person :).

    • it takes great strength to cry and not be ashamed and to as you say–heal–perfect comment Ms. Loony

  13. I too grew up with the stereotypical male/female roles, something I fought against as you probably know or figured out. I love knowing men who can cry when they need to without worry of being looked down at. I can’t point to the exact studies I’ve read but they generally show that men have shorter lifespan because they hold so much inside. That buck it up attitude kills! It’s time to let us all be human and express our feelings anyway we need to deal with them. Great rant.

    • some men use blame rather than crying–they defer responsibility to others and that is how they handle their grief and their anger. crying is a much better way to handle these things

      • Can’t agree more with that.

  14. Amen to that, Lou. 🙂

  15. Yes. “Whenever I see tears well up in my husband’s eyes, I know that he has been touched deeply by things—and to be touched deeply is not for cowards. It is a deep disservice to men (I am the mother of two boys) to have their feelings taken away from them. To disrespect someone, to mock someone, to make fun of someone for being “soft” is outrageous.”

  16. I agree with you. We need to let all humans be human, which includes showing emotions.

    • simple concept–let humans be humans–why do we find it so darn difficult?

  17. Great post, Louann!
    I’ll never forget a photo I saw of a local police chief at the funeral of another officer. His eyes were closed and tears ran unashamedly down his face. That is one of the most vivid visuals of a manly man I have. I admire a man who is strong enough to cry.

    • and that is the very essence of it–strong enough to cry–thanks Denise–you made an excellent point!

  18. You can tell how far off true equality we are when we still talk about “men” and “women” instead of just “people”. When we ascribe traits on the basis of gender – whether positive or negative – we only show how far away from being equal we really are. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t highlight the differences between people, far from it, I’m merely saying that unless we can look at women as PEOPLE and men as PEOPLE then things like how weak or soft or brave or emotional or angry or moved or frustrated they are, the lines of gender stereotyping only become more marked.

    I know plenty of men who aren’t afraid to show emotions, or talk through problems, or make a fuss of a basket of kittens etc and I also know plenty of women who don’t do all of those things at all. It doesn’t make them any more or less men/women, it just makes them people that’s all. Every single one of us are individuals and we have as many different emotions and emotional triggers as there are hairs on our heads. To demarcate the lines based on gender just emphasises the imbalance on the scales of equality.

  19. I like a man who can cry too. Not sure I would want to be with someone who couldn’t show the depths of emotion. While I think there are a lot of difference between men and women, I don’t believe that the differences create inequality. And IMHO…women are the stronger sex. ~ Sheila

  20. […] via A Bit of A Rant – But It Is Only the Tip of the Iceberg | On the Homefront. […]

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