Disclaimer: I am in no way disregarding a man’s or woman’s experience, nor am I making excuses for any man’s lying, cheating, abusive, or misogynistic behavior. This article aims to to bring awareness to the fact that that boys and men cry too, and that is okay.

The same way women have been raised to be quiet, submissive, docile and accept the fact that men control us, men have been raised to be a macho, loud, unemotional, strong figure. Women have been taught that when a man shows you unwanted attention, even after you say no, it is a compliment, and after sexual assault, women are asked what they were wearing or doing to cause themselves to be raped. However, society doesn’t acknowledge the pain men experience after sexual assault, too. When men go through sexual assault, they’re either dismissed or made fun of. Most of the time, men don’t talk about it. Just like women who don’t speak up because they’re controlled by the fear of how everyone else around them would think of them as sluts, men are controlled by the shameful feeling that their sexual assault has somehow made them less of a man.

No wearing pink, no need for lovey-doveyness, no playing with girl toys, no getting caught up in emotions, no being clingy, no crying when you are hurt or scared because boys are boys and boys do not cry…but they do.

Boys do cry. Boys do get scared. Boys do want hugs and kisses. Men do cry. Boys and men do go through depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Men do get sexually assaulted. Men do hurt. Men do want love. Men do want attention. Men do have feminine qualities. None of these things make a man any less of a man which is why it is important to talk about it because their whole lives they’re told they should not cry. Society says wearing pink makes them a girl, that talking about their feelings is “gay” and they have to prove their masculinity constantly to their family, friends and society so they don’t get bullied.

It is so internalized that we have men who believe, truly believe, that a man showing any sort of weakness or vulnerability makes him less. They walk around, asserting their dominance over women, suppressing their feelings to make themselves feel like a man because it is what they have been thought.

Why? Why do we, as a society, do this to our boys? They grow up with such a distorted view of not only themselves but towards emotions and women which then lead to later issues in life such as anger issues, being abusive towards their partners, self-loathing for being emotional, and handling mental illnesses in the wrong way. It is to the point that when a traumatic event happens to them, they do not know how to deal with it or talk about it all because we have taught them since they were little that crying is wrong. Emotions are girly but then when girls cry, they’re overly emotional, but the truth is, men don’t know how to gauge feelings. They don’t possess emotional intelligence because they have been taught to suppress the emotions they have in order to always maintain their masculine self.

Recently, my long-distance partner and I met up and decided it was time to say goodbye. Although we were both heartbroken, and there I was bawling my eyes out, but he was sitting there, showing no emotion to the point where I thought he felt nothing at all. When I looked up, he had a tear rolling down his cheeks, and suddenly it hit me, this is hard for him too, he feels the sadness and pain. I said, “oh look, you are also crying!” and we both laughed. He immediately started making excuses, and wiped all his tears away, focusing on just moving on from that ’embarrassing’ moment. But to me, it wasn’t embarrassing; it was beautiful because it was real and raw. I would always tell him all the time that him showing his emotions and vulnerability is not a bad thing at all. I appreciate it because I know it is hard for him to do. After all, men shouldn’t be weak, and men don’t cry.

It’s detrimental to a man’s mental and emotional health if they grow up in such a society that stunts his emotional growth. Men can then start acting out in various ways as they grow up, finding different outlets to let out all their suppressed feelings. As a society, we need to let our men know, especially our men of color, that it is okay to cry, to hurt, to talk about their traumatic experiences. That their feelings are valid. Their thoughts, voice, and experience are valid. It does not make them any less of a man for being human.