Admonishing her seven-year-old son for crying, my neighbor Sheela said, ‘‘Silly, can’t you fight back if a boy beats you? Crying! go take your sister’s bangles, wear them and be like a girl.” I thought it was the most atrocious thing to say- both to the boy and his sister.
Why do mothers try to give wrong values about the macho image to little boys? Why do they make crying tantamount to cowardice? Why can’t a young fella release his pent-up emotions with a good cry? I think the male chauvinists of today are a product of female instigation.
There is nothing wrong in a boy, however old he is, crying. Tears are like the sluice gates of dams — they open up only when the pressure is at breaking point and needs an outlet. Because of this misguided idea 'that it’s womanly (I’ll come to this point later) to shed tears, boys are brought to bottle their feelings.
Denied nature’s way of releasing inner turmoil, they become complex beings, develop boorish ways and resort to physical violence which could take the form of rape or even murder. The more they keep their emotions locked up within their bosoms, greater the chances of heart failure. You very rarely hear of a woman dying of the heart not functioning. That’s because she has this wonderful panacea for all frustrations- tears.
At funerals, a woman not crying makes news while a man shedding tears is considered a manifestation of his feelings. The" ‘stiff upper lip’ image is the legacy of the poker-faced British who have done more harm to humanity than Attila the Hun.
The other part of Sheela’s statement, struck me as being inane. What did she mean by asking her son to don bangles if he can’t fight back? She seemed to be implying that a man is as bad as a woman if he can’t avenge his wrong-doer! By saying this, she has doomed her own sex to being a spineless one. How mistaken she is!.
Woman, for all her apparent frailty can stand up for her rights much better than a man. That’s because she does not make a song and dance about her revenge. She goes about it coolly, calculatingly and secretively. Just when she has lulled her opponent to a sense of complacency, she makes her move. This way, she preserves her own image and also achieves her goal. It is a myth that a woman is helpless, dissolves into tears at the slightest provocation and is a symbol of passive acceptance of her fate.
‘‘Wear a bangle” is no more a derogatory command. It is symbolic of resilience, tenacity and the will to get even. If, just by crying a man can be labelled a woman, all men would be sobbing their heart out!
Next time you see a man crying, give him your handkerchief and pat him on the back for being man enough to show his emotions.