BOYS DO CRY!
It was just another lazy Sunday night at the beach and all I wanted to do was sit and stare at the stars and smell the oceans salty scent. As I was enjoying this bit of calm, a little girl about ten years old was running around me. She suddenly tripped over a kite that a boy was flying and fell on the ground and got slightly bruised. Before I could help her get up, her father came running and carried the little girl in his arms. The little girl thanks to all the attention her dad was giving her broke into dramatic tears. “You are my little princess. Please don’t cry darling” the dad hugged and sweet-talked her.
It was a picturesque moment, right out of a movie and I could have watched it for the rest of my life. Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder if the same dad would have been pleased if his ten year old son had broken into dramatic tears for a little bruise. His instant reaction may have been “Stop crying, boys don’t cry.” In fact if this difference in parental approach ended at the day in a beach no one would talk about it, yet the truth is it goes a long way in shaping our ethos. This is probably the reason why we find ourselves in a society where women don’t know how to restrain their emotions whereas men have issues expressing it.
A surprise awaited me in one of the classes of a teacher whom I really looked up to and respected. While mentioning about Rani Lakshmi Bai and Indira Gandhi she accidentally remarked that these women were as brave as men. I was shattered as I wondered about the impact that a sentence like that would have on young girls today. Are courage, bravery, valor and chivalry qualities that only men can set benchmark for ?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where what was okay for my brother was okay for me too. Every time we go to a theater I find myself running to buy the tickets or stand in that long queue to buy snacks without the men in my family telling me it is a man’s job. From a young age, the two most important men in my life, my brother and father have never showcased a chauvinistic attitude! My brother has always been more than a best friend and never once has he instructed me to dress or behave in a particular manner. In fact he is the one who continuously funds me for the large chunk of Feminist books that I pick out at Landmark.
Thanks to this kind of upbringing I find it a little uncomfortable to see that gender bias is widely prevalent even for a modern young woman in this city like me and that even my peers think that it is their responsibility to protect a girl. Even today, while asking about career choices a girl is sometimes asked to keep her family in mind, where as no boy is ever asked if he has thought about transfers, working hours etc.
Girls are still made to believe in this pseudo belief that it is their ultimate responsibly to weave a fairy tale marriage and raise a beautiful family. Any kind of aspirations or goals will have take a backseat and family will always be her first priority. Yet, even now boys are brought up with the attitude that the family and household is not their forte! Sometimes I feel many women even in the city are like Modern Eve’s waiting for their Adam’s to bring back a chunk of meat so that they can split it up and live happily ever after.
We have had enough problems living in a cliched society where a man who cries is called a weakling whereas a woman who does not is called ruthless. Every time I see one of these stereotypes in the society I am reminded of Elaine Booslers words, “I am just a person trapped inside a woman’s body”. It is impossible for this change to come within a day, yet it is in our hands to create a generation of people who are free from such prejudice and learn to value the person irrespective of their gender!
Boys should be allowed to cry. They should.