Grown Men Don't Cry

“He [Elisha] fixed his gaze and stared at him [Hazael], until he was ashamed. Then the man of God wept.”- 1st Kings 8:11, NRSV

“Jesus began to weep.”- John 11:35, NRSV

Chris Bosh

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Emotions & Gender Construction

Growing up, I was told by my male parental unit (nope, not using the “f” word to describe him), that big boys don’t cry.  We were to leave the crying and emotions to women, well, of course except anger and wrath.  Sobbing after a little league baseball game was a taboo. Shedding tears after failing to get all A’s? Definitely a no-no.

Where does this notion come from?  My MPU was a nominal Christian, and in early U.S. American Christianity, in history classes, we learn that the image Dei for many early Puritans was male rationality. Indeed, some classes of human beings were deemed incapable of being rational, ala women, while others, ala males of the First Nations & Africa, deemed to have an inferior rationality.  Of course today in the church, this phallocentric way of being/doing/thinking in the world goes unchallenged.

Lately, the members of the Miami Heat, especially Chris Bosh, have been made fun of (I admit, I even giggled when I heard the story, since, you know, it’s only a game), and while some of the jokes were childish, there seemed to be, in my eyes at least, a sexist tone to this comedy.  Basketball is what these men do for a living; what person does not cry when she fails to succeed on a presentation at work or get reprimanded by her boss? It’s okay to cry behind closed doors for men, but it’s okay for women to mourn in public? Why? To affirm our misogyny, and patriarchal ways of being?

This sexist mode of gender construction does perpetuate gender violence, especially if anger is the only emotion where it is okay for males to express, well, except if you are a black male, because then you end up being stereotyped as an Angry Black like Malcolm X or someone of the like.  But it’s okay for Bill O’Reilly to express outrage every night on the T.V.

bell hooks say in her salvation: Black People and Love,

“Since patriarchal masculinity also encourages men to mask what they feel as a way of manipulating others, black males are especially at risk; they may be rewarded for being estranged from their feelings.  Creating and maintaining personal integrity is especially hard in a culture of domination where lying is rewarded.” (page 87)

The Bible says nothing about a ban on men crying. Was the prophet Elisha a REAL MAN? Was Christ Yeshua of Nazareth, A REAL MAN? Probably not according to the Promise Keeper’s definition, I mean, since we do have to keep those women in line, and young black boys, they are dangerous (so goes the racist/sexist stereotype), so they need firm hand, perhaps someone like CNN’s Steve Perry.  This what a society based on lies looks like.  And as we all know, only the Truth, integrity, can set you free.

Now, pardon me while I go watch Al Pacino in Scent of A Woman, and cry again.


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0 thoughts on “Grown Men Don't Cry

  1. KenLeonard

    “Everybody used to tell me big boys don’t cry
    But I’ve been around enough to know that that was the lie
    That held back the tears in the yes of a thousand
    Prodigal sons
    But we are children no more
    We have sinned and gown old
    But our Father still waits and He watches down the road
    To see his crying boys come running
    Back to His home
    And be growing young …”

    – Rich Mullins, “Growing Young”

    I have nothing else to add.

  2. J. K. Gayle

    Rod, I wish I could say your post made me cry (which might say something more about me than you). But, reading it, I only giggled and guffawed! 🙂 Great post, man! Right now, I’m headed over to fb since you and Jesus and bell hooks have given me a status to post.

  3. Charles

    Interestingly, one of the places where I have seen men crying frequently is the UFC. And, for the most part (there are always stupid people with big mouths), it is not frowned upon. Emotions can run very high in and after a fight, and to lose after spending so much time training and preparing and psyching yourself up for the match can be devastating, so it is not considered “unmanly,” especially since nobody can doubt the manliness of a professional fighter.

    For example:
    Forrest Griffin is one of my favorite fighters, he’s just so likable and he has a great self-deprecatory sense of humor. Here is his reaction to losing to Keith Jardine (Notice how Keith immediately goes to Forrest, not to mock him, but to comfort and show respect)

    Fighters are only criticized if they cry without “good reason” (Andy Wang’s crying on The Ultimate Fighter was mocked only because it was, in his coach’s opinion, motivated more by injured pride than anything else).


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