You better watch out. You better not cry. Better not pout. I'm telling u why - patriarchy discourages men from displaying emotions. #FeministXmasSongs from Gemma Correll. It's alright to cry. Crying gets the sad out of you. [...] It might make you feel better. ~ Carol Hall, as sung by Rosie Grier in Free To Be You And MeCrying is wonderful and sometimes I need it. It empties my chest of painful pressure and fills me up with clean energy.
I cry a lot but I used to cry more. Fortunately, I am no longer ashamed of my tears. Growing up, I was. I cried in school when I was frustrated, which was often. I self-identify as having a mathematical learning disability and for being a highly sensitive person. I got teased a lot about being shorter than average as a kid - in fact, dealing with it was the subject of my college entrance essay. Plus, there was the fact that I was a budding intersectional feminist and so was teased about that from kindergarten onward.
I hated my sensitivity as a child. I felt embarrassed and ashamed a lot. Adults used to tell me that they wished that they were that sensitive but I told them they wouldn't if it caused them to cry and be miserable all the time. I still think I'm right, at least through the eyes of a child.
However, now I am glad.
My sensitivity causes me to be more aware of the world around me and of what is going on with myself, which helps me take care of myself. I cry now when I need to cry and I am not ashamed.
The other day I had forgot to return something at work and I felt panicked when I realized that I needed to go back to work and return it immediately. Then I got even more anxious when I realized that my boss already knew about my mistake. I handed the item to my coworker and informed her that I was going to go to my car and cry before my shift. She reassured me that I did not need to, that everybody makes mistakes, but I did need to and it wasn't because I did not know that - it was because I could feel the pressure in my chest and I needed to let it out. When I got to my car I cried for about five minutes and then I was good and ready to go to work.
Attending to my emotional needs makes me a better worker but many places would deny this. Most jobs do not want to support the worker and so the unsupported worker develops health problems from holding their emotions in. Read the book, The Managed Heart, by Arlie Russell Hoschild for proof.
And then this past weekend, I was with a friend and feeling very rushed. This made me feel very anxious again and I started to cry. I pulled over and told my friend how I felt. I just needed to cry for a little bit and so I did. And after about five minutes I felt a whole lot better. I laughed and suggested we go to Waffle House. She agreed and we had a pleasant dinner together.
That afternoon as I was crying, I thought to myself, "I am so glad that I am a woman and that I am allowed to cry." Yes, growing up I felt ashamed of my tears but it was not because I was a girl but just because it happened so often. I did not feel like I fitted in but at least it was not because of my gender. Of course, the reason why boys are not allowed to cry is because they are not supposed to emulate little girls. Little girls are weak. They are emotional and sensitive and fragile....which are all actually very wonderful things.
I wish men were allowed to cry. I wish when they felt the pressure building up in their chest they would feel safe enough to let it go. Of course, in most work environments crying is frowned upon and I am very lucky to have a job where I can safely express my feelings but even so, men experience a much greater degree of stigma related to their tears than women do.
Here's our secret: crying cleanses the soul. I wish women weren't the only gender allowed to be pure. It is unfair to make us the ones responsible for washing away the stains of the patriarchy.
It's 2015, almost 2016, and we still need to hear Rosie Grier sing, It's Alright To Cry.