Click here for shortcuts to regional language blogs and city-specific events.
This is something I feel very strongly about and have wanted to address for a long time. Here it goes. But, before I put my opinion out there, I would like you to analyse the following situation and think.
A 5-year-old girl is playing in the garden. She swings, gets on the slide, runs around the garden and flashes a smile that can very easily make you believe everything is right with the world.
Then comes her friend, same age as her, with his mother. The kids gallop up to each other and start playing. They decide they want to race to the little pond, the one where they can see the lotus blooming, the big fan-shaped leaves, where the ducks swim by. And the fun begins. They do that a couple of times and perhaps by the 10th time, they both fall down and hurt themselves.
The mothers run to their children to check on their kids.
Mother to girl: “It’s ok baby. It will be fine, don’t worry about it,” and she hugs her.
Mother to boy: Hugs the boy, “Stop crying like a girl. Are you a girl? You are a strong boy na? It’s ok.”
If you think that there is nothing wrong in the above scenario, then this post is definitely for you.
I am really tired of this clichéd reaction. When Rey gets hurt and people tell him stop crying like a girl, it makes me livid.
Oh! I am seeing red even as I write this.
Why can’t boys cry?
Aren’t they human? Or are they specially created in a manner that they are incapable of the emotion?
I am worried about the times when I am not around Rey, and someone indoctrinates him with this school of thought! Then what? Will he grow up thinking that only girls cry? That crying is eventually a sign of weakness? Eventually will it lead him to believe that women are weak? NO WAY! I don’t want Rey to believe this, and I hope that every parent ensures that their boy is not conditioned and tuned into believing this either.
How do you think the little girl in the above scenario were to feel when she hears this comment from her friend’s mother? You are making her believe that being born a girl is the problem here.
Let’s begin with this, stop putting people in boxes. Pigeonholing is a bane of our society! Let us begin by making our kids good humans first before teaching them what it is like is to be a man or a woman. Let them discover it as they grow up, and decide for themselves which actions / behaviours / talents were to define them as individuals. Our society dictates the rules of manhood and womanhood, gender stereotypes that continue to be a battle that needs to be fought. Let us ensure our kids don’t fall prey to this societal conditioning.
Crying is one of the most natural human reactions triggered by a variety of emotions – pain, hurt, fear, happiness, sorrow etc. It is a common language of grief and a cathartic experience. It has nothing to do with the show of power as the society would like to believe.
Even the former U. S. President Barack Obama didn’t flinch to be emotionally open in full public glare. We have been emotional watching the finals of any World Cup football, where players of both the winning and losing team, all men, have broken to tears, with the spectators joining in solidarity. Don’t we swoon over a Shahrukh Khan or Ranbir Kapoor when their eyes well up in tears during an emotional scene? If we find all this natural, then why is it different when it comes to our own sons?
It is human to have feelings and there is no gender discrimination in it. We seek sensitivity in men, but have a problem in accepting the legitimacy of emotional outbursts from them.
Gender stereotyping is real and we must save our kids from it. Evolution of thoughts begins at home, so let us first do away with any archaic thoughts. Kids have impressionable minds and by telling our sons not to cry we will hinder a natural human emotion, leading them to build an unnatural coping mechanism. In the process we might even alienate them, as parents incapable of understanding their emotions. By telling our boys not to cry, we are passively participating in making them believe that crying is for the weak. And since, according to the society, the sign of being a man is someone who does not cry but toughs it out, they may end up with trapped emotions that will find an outlet in ways which would be even more difficult to handle.
Do you want a child who grows up not knowing how to deal with his emotions? To have his emotions suppressed till it drives him to have an outburst? How do you think he will deal with it then?He won’t. He won’t know how to because you did not let him. You were too busy moulding him into being the man the society wants to see. Not a person. Not a nice human being. A man.
That’s not what I want Rey to learn.
Let your little boy know that it’s great to cry. It’s liberating when you let out all those pent up feelings. Cry when you fall down, but pick yourself up. Weep when someone close passes away or even if you lose a pet. Howl if it makes you feel better over lost love. Cry if it makes you happy, cry if it makes you free, just cry if you feel like it. Let your child choose for himself how he wishes to react to a situation.
Another thing that really troubles me is the fact that the boys are expected to only play or watch “masculine” things. I don’t see anything wrong if your boy wants to watch a movie that has Barbie in a pivotal role. Why do you find it necessary to justify by saying, “I watched it and it has Ken too.” Oh! It has Ken! Great, you’re little boy is now perfect. You don't owe an explanation to anyone. Why are you so worried about your kid watching a movie with dolls in the lead role? Shouldn’t you worry about more important things than his choice of a movie? As far as It’s not hampering him you should not be worried. Remember when we were all proud to see Sakshi Malik roar at the Olympics, when ‘Fighting like a girl’ was the new cool thing! Are we still going to believe in such society driven stereotyping?
Rey, this is what I want you to know – It’s completely ok if you want to play with a doll in a pink dress. It’s ok to cry if you are happy or sad. It’s ok to howl if you are heartbroken and hurt. It’s also absolutely ok to shed a tear or bawl even if it’s a scene in the movie that makes you feel like that. It’s also ok to be petrified of things, you are human after all. I promise to be there by you, hugging you and telling you, “Cry it out baby, it gets better.”
Let your child be a child, don’t hold him down with your mind set. Let him be his own person, not you or an image of you. Let him be him!
(Photo Credit: Lopolo/Shutterstock)