I have often heard, “be a man and act strong” Does gender have to do with how one handles pain?
Society has instigated the fact that men ought to suppress their pains and should not cry. Why? Females are regarded as being feeble who are allowed to shed tears just to let out their pains. But does a man have to hide under the pretence of being ‘all strong’ and not express his emotions? What’s your take on that? Come with me, let’s rub minds together.
I’m Oluwatimileyin Emmanuel and here with me is Mr Kayode Adedeji, a historian, and a motivational speaker. Together with him is Mrs Roseline Emefiele, a career strategist, speaker and coach.
Timi: So, we have often heard the societal notion about how ‘man’ should not cry. What’s your opinion about that?
Mr Kayode: For me, I would say the ancient culture has it that men are warriors, they are seen as being strong. And because of this, the male gender is supposed to be strong on the inside due to his masculinity. He is not supposed to be touched by little things, but to conquer.
Timi: So, are you standing on the fact that a man ought not to cry?
Mr Kayode: No, no, no. I haven’t concluded yet. Crying is a sign of vulnerability or feebleness as far as a man is concerned. And because of the societal view of the responsibility attached to a man, he is supposed to stand strong. Tears are a sign of feebleness and due to the identity of the man that the society has crafted, it has laid many expectations on the male gender. We are not just talking about expectations; we are talking about responsibilities that are attached to a man. For example, a man is supposed to be the head of the family, he is supposed to be a leader. So, when a man that is seen as the head is now crying, he is seen as a sign of weakness. He’s been bullied. Do you get it?
Timi: Yeah. I can imagine seeing my dad crying. I would be like, what?! (laughs)
Mr Kayode: Exactly. He is seen as being weak and nobody wants to be seen as being weak. Plus, the fact that a man naturally has an ego and the expectations that society has put on him. Do you understand now?
Timi: Yes, I understand. But we all have ego now.
Mrs Roseline: Yeah, but for a man, it’s quite different. Naturally, a man is a package of ego. And now plus the external influence expectations of the society, the culture of man, he tends to act all strong.
Mr Kayode: Now, what they don’t know is that before we are male or female, we are first human. And being human, we are susceptible to our emotions. So, because you are a man, you are expected not to be touched by silly things which to some extent, yes, you should not be. And because of those pressures of internal and outsider, the truth is you don’t want to be seen as stupid or as a weakling and then you don’t want to be seen as a vulnerable person. But the truth of the matter is a little bit of vulnerability is needed because a lot of men or male children are going through a lot, but cannot express it because they don’t want to be seen as a weakling. And the result of that is that he is piling up emotions inside which is a time bomb or he expresses it in another way. That is why you see sometimes, I’m not saying that is the only reason, men tend to be violent. They indulge in a lot of vices and I am not justifying that. So, the idea of the male gender not crying is wrong. It is a false undue pressure on manhood.
Timi: Hmm… Wow! This calls for deep thinking. I really like how you put it and I hope a lot of people will learn from this.
Mrs Roseline: And another thing is, let me just add this to it. This notion of the male gender, not crying could also lead to depression. You know bottling things up could leave you vulnerable just as Mr Kayode had said. Acting like a man is not supposed to be judged by how much a guy can hold situations they are passing through. It is in knowing who they are and even the ability to humbly accept what has happened and sort for solutions instead of bottling things up.
Wow! This is an awesome discussion. I must really commend you both. Gender has nothing to do with shedding tears when you are hurt. This even makes you vulnerable if you think you are all that strong. I really have learnt a lot from this discussion and I hope we have learnt something as well.
“Don’t forget that you are human. It’s okay to have a meltdown. Just don’t unpack and live there. Cry it out and then refocus on where you are headed.”Anonymous
Everyone should be allowed to let out their emotions. And to cry when they feel like. This way, we can reduce the rate at which people are dying of depression.