Mar 292013
Learning not to cry

As adults, women are learning not to cry in public as it is not socially acceptable. Photo by David Castillo Dominici/

Men learn early on that crying isn’t acceptable for boys. The way we raised them, the way we talked to them and the way we socialized them in childhood manifested in a tough outer shell.

We unknowingly made the boys emotionally distant, as well as physically tougher than girls.

It’s that generational quirk that we pass down to our kids from our own parents and grandparents. A never-ending cycle of gender bias that starts as soon as we learn if our newborn is going to be a boy or a girl.

This unintentional type of gender bias is more dynamically deep-rooted than just choosing the color blue or pink. It’s the way we subtly guide their behaviors during their childhood before they choose dolls or trucks.

Girls cry

We put the baby girls in dresses and expect them to learn how to crawl with the dress inhibiting their movements. And when they cry out of frustration, we soothe them. Or we dress them in skirts and then show displeasure when the playtime shows their ‘underclothes’ influencing yet another frustration episode. What do we do? We encourage the ‘pity me’ attitude and say something to the effect of being ‘ladylike.’

We pampered them when they scraped their knee instead of telling them to walk it off, we fed into the empathetic moods after watching a sad movie instead of laughing at their tears and we encouraged them to get in touch with their feelings instead of calling them insulting names.

Then when these girls grow up to be women, they are ridiculed for exactly what we taught them.

When women cry, we think they are whiners and when they are empathetic towards others, we call them emotional.

Recently, we are seeing a societal shift in male emotion. High profile male figures are letting their guard down and weeping in the media’s eye. We feel empathy for them. We aren’t used to men crying in public.

But the same cannot be said for women. We see high profile women cry and we automatically label them as cry-babies or whiners. Their reputation as being business leaders or employment bosses are in jeopardy once they are caught crying in the public eye.

It’s an intrinsic double standard with our perception of the societal expectations of genders, still.

Women will cry at night when no one is looking. They learned to hide their tears from their partners, family and children.

They had to learn not to cry.