“Coco McAtee, I thank the stars everyday that we had that conversation and I decided to have you come and talk with my Girl Scouts. That is one of the best things I think I ever did for those girls..."

Coco McAtee LSCSW
Family Life Educator | Speaker | Facilitator


Telling the Truth About Bodies


Man Crying

February 21, 2014

“Big Boys Don’t Cry”
I have referenced Jackson Katz’s work in previous blogs, the author of the DVD “Tough Guise”. This remarkable work explores masculinity in America and the very limited definition of what a man is. I recently went to a local bookstore and a number of the newly featured books were about ‘real men’ or writings about men’s issues.

I live in a household of all males, right up to the four-legged versions. As a young mom and one who studied a bit on gender issues, I hoped to rear boys who could express their feelings without concern for ridicule. Yet that code of boys and men is very powerful and abided by from a very early age. One son broke his wrist while skateboarding with a friend and held his tears until the other child had left, stating “I couldn’t let him see me cry.” This little guy was 9 years old.

I don’t have data to support this notion that men suffer negative health outcomes in part because a myriad of human emotions are not permitted expression and get buried inside. But I sense that emotional pain can later cause health pain and depression. As Katz notes, males are given an extremely short list of available emotions: mad or glad. If not in control or showing more nurturing qualities, as well as and vulnerability, they are quickly labeled weak, wussy, pussy, a girl, sissy, mama’s boy and the list goes on.

So NOT fair. A truncated life. Missed experiences and growth. Cost.

Just recently, Jay Leno got emotional at his final goodbye and I was so glad he could allow himself that. His was a long relationship and he clearly had a host of feelings—appreciation, sadness, relief. To choke up on national TV, he gave us all a glimpse of the fullness of expression that is for all of us, male and female.