The Stereotype: Real Men Don’t Cry

Ankita Pokharel

The concept of masculinity is diverse or multifaceted and encompasses different socially acceptable attributes. Among them has been the belief that “Real Men Don’t Cry”.

Armed with this inner archetype, he carried himself with a high head despite the many obstacles and low times he encountered at that stage of life. While growing up, everything was typical, but he was constantly confronted with comments that asked, “Are you a girl that would cry?” and positioned him inside the stereotype of men who are inflexible in the face of difficulty. He carried the conviction of establishing himself as a true man; he should never cry, no matter what.

His feelings intensified when he eventually met the love of his life. Like a springtime garden, their connection flourished. He believed she was the one just by gazing into her eyes. Yes, she was! She provided him with an amazing sense of contentment by taking care of everything while seeking the fewest requirements. Just a tender touch of her conveyed a sense of care that transcended the ordinary. They would spend hours holding hands, singing together; unworried about the lyrics, offering comforting words and gentle caresses. The place would echo with laughter at silly jokes and reflect on the memories they had created. They created, for each other, a haven of warmth and comfort as they shared a relationship that was socially tagged to be inappropriate.

As destined, the society won over and he loses her as he decides to become a socially accepted being.  A strong, indescribable feeling enveloped him. He couldn’t seem to let go of it even though he felt like he should. With his eyes wide open the entire night and his heart as heavy as a mountain from the daily tasks, he forced himself to develop into a stiff man who would neither accept nor permit himself to appear weak on the outside. Eyes dry and expressions stoic, he felt like releasing what he had held back but some unspoken expectations lingered in the air each time he wanted to do so.

The society had nothing to do with his ability to endure the pain without outwardly expressing his grief and his effort to support the statement that men don’t cry inadvertently.

Furthermore, the environment had been teaching him not to mourn over something as trivial as losing a lady.

He reflects on the time when she had said that they could fight the world which he had assured to fix socially. Acknowledging the present was challenging. He sometimes wished for a second chance and yearned to undo the decisions that led to her departure. He wished he could hold her close and tell her that she was the missing piece in the puzzle of his life even though he had established himself as successful in society. He reflected on the time she had cried like a baby begging him not to let her go. He somewhere had that pain and desired to let go of his emotions through tears but he held them back representing the social definition of a man. He had proven through his vulnerability that he was a beacon of strength. He, now, had fame, but not having her in his life would always haunt him.

Simply another difficult day like always, trying to cope with the void left by her absence that as always would seem insurmountable, he gets to know that she is gone never to get back. He couldn’t hold back this time. He knew letting her go was a choice he could now only regret about.

The Society that kept him off from holding her hands had nothing to do with the intensity of emotion he was grabbed within. He lost with all the suppressed emotions he had been wrestling with.

And, as the tears fell, each drop seemed to carry a fragment of love he had lost. In the quiet spaces of remorse, he grappled with the painful truth that some choices, once made, alter the course of one’s life in ways that nothing could undo.

After that, he hears voices again, warning him of the social limitations! Overhearing it, he sobs uncontrollably, letting out all of his feelings and wondering several hypothetical scenarios. What if he had chosen to defy social expectations, what if he had grieved and realised what he truly wanted? What if he accepted that shedding tears isn’t just a sign of weakness but a weapon that can help him decide better and logically? What if he had understood that crying can provide emotional release, allowing for introspection and a clearer perspective on one’s feelings and needs? What if he had not accepted the prejudice that stated Real Men Don’t Cry?