Saturday, November 7, 2020

Do Real Men Cry?

Another day, another piece of nonsense from the therapy culture. This time, it’s not just the thought police; it’s the emotion police. A woman has decided that her husband is not showing a sufficient amount of emotion about the death of his best friend. She wants him to undergo counseling so that he can get in touch with his feelings. 

Consider her letter, written to Carolyn Hax:

My husband's lifelong best friend died two weeks ago. My husband has been acting like everything is okay, and at the funeral he was the one comforting everyone else, but I could tell he was hurting and encouraged him to talk to me or look into grief counseling. He assured me he's fine.

Well, yesterday I came home and found him sobbing uncontrollably. I held him until he stopped crying, but as soon as he stopped, he again insisted he's okay and doesn't need to talk to anyone.

I know he was raised not to show emotions — I have actually heard my father-in-law say the words "Real men don't cry" — but I don't think it's healthy for him to just bottle things up. What do you think I can do for my husband?

We will note, with Carolyn Hax, that the man did express some emotion in private. So, the nonsense about him not feeling anything is nonsense. It's about displaying whiny emotion in a public ceremony. The man stepped up when he needed to step up-- at his best friend’s funeral.

He manned up and held it together in order to take the lead in a ceremony where crying is optional.

Of course, it is not manly to become the center of solicitous concern at someone else’s funeral. The notion that you have a moral obligation to make a fool of yourself in public, to make a spectacle of your grief in public is deranged. Leave the crying to others.

In truth, this wife should be proud of her husband, for how well he handled himself at the funeral. The problem is hers, not his. And the problem derives from the therapy culture nonsense she has accepted.

So, Hax takes both sides of the issue. She notes that the man has chosen to cry in private. And she explains that different people experience loss differently. Actually, members of different sexes also do so. And she adds, importantly, that his stolid attitude at the funeral surely helped him to console others.

But, she errs in adding that people should not be ashamed of their feelings-- because this implies that there is a special virtue in displaying them on the public square. In that she is wrong.

In her words:

Also, teaching kids to be ashamed of their feelings is hideous — real men don’t teach boys that real men don’t cry — but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad not to show emotion. The ideal isn’t for all of us to experience love and loss the same way — it’s to be given room to experience them in our own ways. I imagine it helped him a lot to be the one consoling others.

So, again, keep a close eye for signs of danger or distress, but otherwise give him room to sort this out the way he feels is right.

Her conclusion is correct. The wife who imagines that bottling up feelings will give you cancer ought to keep her feelings to herself.


Sam L. said...

Hax gets one right? Well, YAYYYYY.

Ares Olympus said...

Strong emotions like grief and joy and release of any tension are complicated and surprising. Whether strong emotions allow you to cry in public isn't always a choice, but if it helps when you're connecting to important thoughts, or a relief of long tension. It is very different from a whiny child which is not attractive at any age or gender. Hoping for a president who doesn't call people names may make some men cry. Van Jones was emotional talking about Joe Biden becoming the next President of the United States

Maybe some men feel more freedom to cry in public after 50. Remember John Boehner? John Boehner cries during Pope's speech