Real Men Don’t Cry: A Defense of Hyper-Masculinity
REAL MEN DON’T CRY
The excessive display of emotion is a weakness. This may be one of the most controversial statements that I’ve ever written in an essay. The free and casual open displays of certain emotions such as Love, Sympathy, Compassion and Pain are perceived as a weakness to the masses of our society, whether justified or not. There’s a time and a place for everything.
Using a sports analogy, when a player exposes his vulnerabilities, he basically advertises the ways in which he can be targeted by present or future opponents. He also loses the confidence of his fellow players, which breaks morale. The same applies to manhood in general. In war, would you confidently follow the General that stoically displayed control or the General that emotionally displayed his fears of battle by openly weeping?
I’m not saying that men shouldn’t cry ever or under any circumstance. Be it when sharing a problem with a friend, an intimate moment with a lover or grieving the loss of someone to death, there is a time and place for everything. The only time I ever remember seeing my father cry was a memorable one. If he cried more than that one occasion, it was behind closed doors. He understood that the public perception of his composure and confidence was integral to his manhood and masculinity.
This philosophy on public displays of emotion by my father was passed on to me as well. The one time I cried in front of my entire family as an adult, it was at a funeral. I sobbed like a baby, mourning the sudden loss of a beloved cousin. The crying was so bad that my own mother had to console me in front of all those people. I knew what was happening and how it made me look but I just couldn’t stop the tears from falling.
Eventually I composed myself and regained my familial respect by delivering an equally passionate eulogy. To this day, many in my family both young and old look to me as a leader and inspiration for my actions on that day and many since then.
So it must be said that I’m not a dispassionate robot…I’m still just a human being so I do have emotional moments of sorrow, loneliness, hopelessness and sadness.
However, I was taught to be a man that places the energy that would otherwise be used on crying into something far more productive: Action. I was taught that crying changes nothing. Only action changes anything, giving you a reason to not need to cry in the first place.
Many elder African Americans view the integration of the races as the reason the black community in general is not as cohesive as it once was. No matter if one agrees with this view or not, the correlation is very strong and open to serious consideration. This brings us back to this new-age conditioning of men being more emotional and sensitive…Men acknowledging their feelings and expressing them publicly.
Research shows that nearly one in five men is in touch with their feminine side. What this creates is a slippery slope of men so free emotionally that they are now open to becoming the male “Beyoncé, Mary J Blige, Rihanna” diva worshipers we see today. Men eager to listen to the new R&B album from Brandy with a glass of wine and a box of tissues.
So what does that mean for the men (like myself) who are in the minority, who are immune to this conditioning and nostalgically remember when it was celebrated for men to just be men, flaws and all?
The way I was trained, by my previously mentioned masculine role models, was to get up when pushed down and to never back down. I get a lot of flak by peers for my conservative (and possibly antiquated) view of masculinity, but I refuse to keep silent about them.
I’m not a perfect person…and I’m not the toughest, most confident, masculine man a person will meet…but I definitely try to project traditional hyper-masculinity as much as possible that feels natural to me. This is the reason that I have a good number of people that I consider friends in my life. This is also the reason that I have a good number of enemies. I hold both as badges of honor because it shows me that there are people in my life that love me for the same reasons that others hate me.
Like many of the last remaining of my masculine counterparts, I stay the course…I continue to be an example for young men seeking role models to shape their developing minds and manhood. I recognize that when it comes to these young, impressionable masculine men (the future leaders of our communities) the quality of the strong within the few far outweighs the quantity of the weak within many.
– Nick D