I read this article on Facebook about Nick Offerman’s response to the question of men crying, and it nearly brought me to tears. Why? Because it’s nice when a famous man who is often seen as a “man’s man” comes out and just throws a monkey wrench in machismo.
It got me to thinking about the things that move me to tears. There was the last scene in the original Independence Day. The thought of an advanced species coming all the way to earth in spaceships that were larger than most cities losing to humans who can barely avoid an accidental nuclear war stirred something in me that I couldn’t deny, and I had to shed those tears.
There were two parts in 2012 that brought me to tears. First was the part where Woody Harrelson’s character dies in the explosion at Yellowstone. That was more happy crying, because I always imagined myself facing down the end of the world with glee. See, as you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking I’m kidding. I’m not kidding. The most pure beauty that can be expressed in this universe is that of destruction.
I’ve broken down and cried after feeling harassed by a woman who couldn’t seem to take no for an answer. I also cried when Elsa sang that song Let it Go in the movie Frozen. I bawled like a baby at the end of Meet Joe Black, when Anthony Hopkins’ character walk up the stairs, and out of the frame with Joe Black (Death) and didn’t come back with the guy whose body Death had “borrowed.”
In the words of Dane Cook, “It’s good to let out a good cry.” I’ve cried so many times in my life, and I’ve never felt like “less of a man” for it. Though I haven’t been diagnosed (mostly because I refuse to talk to a psychologist), most days I feel kind of “down.” It might be depression, or it might just be the blues, but I’ve broken down at work in front of my female supervisor who in no way made me feel emasculated because I was crying. I’ve had episodes that I could probably be defined as anxiety attacks, where I’ve just walked into work and suddenly felt like there were too many people around, crushing my own presence, looking to destroy me.
I’ve cried at times when I’ve felt that I just wasn’t good enough, or when I’ve felt like I didn’t deserve to be here.
This isn’t a fishing expedition for pity. I hate pity. My point is, I never really thought about toxic masculinity. We men have this habit of ignoring what we’d like to think of as our “feminine sides.” But I’ve long wondered why we have the ability to cry if crying was anathema to being a so-called man. How does it make one weak to cry? How is a woman weaker than a man because she’s able to let the pain of whatever she’s feeling at any given time manifest in tears, sniffling, and whimpers? How is a little boy a “pussy” if he cries over the scraped knee that he got after falling off his bike?
I’ve come to believe, over the years, that it’s best to cry when you feel the need to cry. To be sure, I still won’t let a man see me cry because I’d hate to be in a situation where that man ends up getting trounced by a dude who’s crying (I’m not out to embarrass anyone).
Toxic masculinity is the reason movements like #MeToo are necessary in the first place. Is it possible that we can teach our young men that being “sensitive” is in no way a strike against how well they can toss a football, whoop someone’s ass, or earn the respect of a woman?