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Boys Don’t Cry

Why we should promote positive masculinity

Raina Bailey, Op-Ed Editor

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Walking down the street with jean shorts, neon graphic tees and cackling over a Youtube video, my friend and I heard a car horn honk twice, followed by a whistle.

Our attention diverted to a middle aged man, with a gritty face and baseball cap in a faded blue Pontiac, smiling wide with his cigarette stained teeth.

We weren’t stupid, we knew what just happened- we were catcalled.

We were in sixth grade.

Opening up my phone to the news of a leaked recording of a woman pleading to Harvey Weinstein to simply leave her alone, it’s not surprising. For years, the entertainment industry has been notorious for it’s violence, judgement, and discrimination towards women.

This case hit me harder than most and left me wondering just as much as it left me disgusted.

What’s the stem of this behavior that’s heightened-but not limited to- with men? Why is the western world creating a society that not only accepts but at times encourages this behavior?

Our culture has a deep issue with masculinity. Men are often born into certain sets of behavior and expectations which reject emotions, celebrate anger and award violence.

That being said, these expectations aren’t always accomplished. But just like any cultural norm, there can be a great pressure placed on those who are trying to be accepted by others.

Often, people associate this idea of toxic masculinity with the treatment of women, evident with the Weinstein case. According to the Council of Europe, “Gender stereotypes and overtly sexualised images of women feed into the violence towards women,”

While it is evident that this idea of masculinity in the western world has a monumental effect on the lives of women, this also has it’s tolls on men and their health psychologically.

As a feminist, I believe that the roles of men and women of all races need to be equal. But often, there are statistics and issues within men’s lives that many forms of feminist media fail to bring awareness to.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men are 3.5x as likely to commit suicide than women. Many researchers believe this is due to the repression of emotions and the fear to appear “weak” or vulnerable.

The British Columbia medical journal states that men’s suicide rates are “consistent with men’s relatively low levels of help seeking for psychological difficulties.”

This trait among men can be linked to not only suicidal tendencies, but also with some men resulting to act out their emotions on others.

I’m not claiming that all men dealing with these thoughts and emotions express them violently towards women, but that the root of both of these actions stems from the same place.

We need to start creating spaces where men feel accepted when sharing their thoughts and feelings- where we stop telling them that “boys don’t cry”.

As soon as men stop feeling the pressure to assert their dominance and show just how masculine and “strong” they are, I believe that less of these events will take place within our society.

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Boys Don’t Cry