How many times have you heard that “Boys don’t cry”? That real men never shed tears? That it is the women who have the privilege and burden of crying? That the man, being the “stronger” gender, must “man up,” “be a man,” “act like a man”?
This film by Vinil Mathew for Vogue shows up a mirror to society about how we bully our boys into being emotional wrecks (who in turn wreck others). Watch!
It’s funny how when a girl falls down the parent comes up to her and pretends to scold the ground, letting her know with subtle hints that the world will constantly have to protect you while on the other hand with a boy they expect him to get up, stomp the ground hard to “teach it a lesson” rather than crying.
Boys are constantly made to believe that there is only one way for a man to be and any other way is either “womanly” or odd. In a world where “being a woman” is equal to the worst insult possible for man, the man-child is brought up to hide his pain, for fear of being tagged weak, or worse, a woman. This pain manifests itself in many ways – from aggression to depression, wreaking havoc on many lives.
Our movies have only reinforced this over the decades. Let’s say the hero and heroine have a fight. Girl: Sobbing in the background. Boy: Breaking furniture or cutlery. Let’s say parents have not agreed to the wedding.
Girl: Shut in her room, artfully dishevelled hair, tear-streaked cheeks.
Boy: Drunk with friends, abusing all parents.
(Well, there’s a welcome change of late with our men tearing up unashamedly on-screen – think Siddharth Malhotra, Shahrukh Khan and Fawad Khan, but they do offset it with six pack abs and rippling forearms.)
What is our call to action? Let your children – boys and girls – cry when they are hurt. Teach them that real strength comes from being vulnerable, being emotionally available. Teach them that strong people – men and women – cry in pain but don’t make others cry. And watch out for our forthcoming series on men in the movies!.