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Real men do cry

By José Castellanos

Section: Opinions

September 16, 2016

It’s an idiom constantly heard both in media and in social settings: Real men don’t cry. It’s drilled into the minds of young men: Real men don’t cry. It’s repeated by the patriarchy until young men feel no sense of emotion and disconnect from it: Real men don’t cry. The belief that real men are above feeling emotion is frankly horrible and only reinforces toxic ideas of what a “real man” should be.

Namely, this man is a cisgender, heterosexual, tall, athletic white male who works with his hands, rarely shows emotion, doesn’t parent, doesn’t care for his appearance and is in no way sympathetic towards women. This idea calls for young men to become stoic figures, disconnected from emotions and all other things that the patriarchy considers to be “too feminine” for a masculine man.

This is perhaps most evident in the “bro” culture seen on campuses. Young men often encourage toxic ideas of masculinity when in packs like this. They hold a blatant disregard for women by treating them as sources of competition or only seeing them as trophies to be collected, and Brandeis is no different.

The disconnect stems from a deeply flawed culture, one where people of all genders are told to fit in a mold set by society, and that any degree of nonconformity is a sign of weakness or unredeemable abnormality. Though we are all too often reminded of the impact that this has on women and other genders, we often forget that the patriarchy harms young men by forcing them into the archetype of the “real man,” with seemingly no other options. To embrace anything seen as “feminine” is to instantly be labelled as gay.

Jaden Smith, for example, was ridiculed for breaking the gender binary in fashion when he began modelling skirts in a Louis Vuitton campaign. This is often taken to extremes, with men becoming paranoid about having to hold the purse of a significant other, or even being disgusted when they hear any mention of menstruation. Eventually, this leads to a sense that conformity to traditional masculine ideals is the only correct path for many men to undertake.

In short, they feel that if they do not fulfill the archetype of the “manly” man, they are somehow less than their peers who may fit the mold. Eventually, this can escalate to a blatant sense of sexism. Cultures viewing things as “too feminine” can lead men to believe that femininity is somehow lesser, and therefore hold a disregard for women and people of other genders.

To prevent this, we need to destroy our toxic ideas of what it means to be masculine. There is no wrong way to be a man. No societal pressure should make you feel that you are lesser simply because you’re not like the “real man” figure that our society often holds as the only possibility. Additionally, combatting toxic masculinity can combat sexism in society by normalizing what is seen as “feminine” and allowing men to realize that it’s perfectly okay to be nonconforming.

The effects of toxic masculinity are undoubtable: It can lead to senses of desperation or even depression. Some people may feel that they do not belong simply because they do cry, don’t look like bodybuilders or because they are not afraid to show emotions rather than suppress them. Destroying toxic masculinity would normalize the feelings and sentiments of supposed “outsiders” and bring down the patriarchy and sexism in our society. This process can begin by teaching our young men that men do cry, because there is no single right way to be a man.

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