Monday, April 21, 2014

Trials and Tears

After finishing a book, I was reading the reviews for it and found one that was complaining about the number of times the main male character cried. I think I remember it happening three times in 300-odd pages, maybe it was more than that but if it was I didn't notice it. Of the three times I remember, I didn't personally think any of the instances of tears were unrealistic. The circumstances were all ones under which I would expect most people to be upset and possibly shed a tear.

However, this review got me thinking about men crying (in written fiction, in real life and on TV). The reviewer said nothing of the number of times the female main character cried (which was at least as often--in fact I think it was more). I have to wonder why? Is it part of the general perception that men are expected to be "strong"? I can't really answer that because I don't know what was going on in the reviewers mind when s/he said that it made them roll their eyes every time it mentioned the male crying.

Personally, I find it a sign of strength in a man that he is willing to allow his emotions to show. And you will never be able to convince me that alone, in their darkest moments, men don't feel the same things that women do. That men aren't willing to give themselves over to sorrow when they are grieving. And by grieving I don't necessarily mean the loss of a loved one (although there is that too) but it might be the loss of a relationship, facing the realization that something expected and anticipated isn't going to come to fruition, or even having lost of control over some key aspect of his life. These are all, in my opinion, reasonable reasons for a man to cry.

Yet even with this belief, I have to admit I find it more confronting to watch a man breakdown in tears than to see a woman cry. Although it didn't make me roll my eyes, I did notice when the male character cried much more than I noticed whether the female did. Maybe this is linked to the same societal prejudice against male emotions that could have been part of the reason for reviewer's remarks. Maybe it's more reason why men should cry in fiction--to show that a man who cries isn't automatically a weak man.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Should men be allowed to cry in novels or does it make you roll your eyes too? Or does it depend on the situation? If that's the case, under what circumstances do you think it's okay?

Image courtesy of Naypong /


  1. Even strong men should cry in certain circumstances - what an odd thing to critique - but there again it doesn't suprise me

  2. I thought it was a strange thing to cause issues. It was a YA book and the boy was lamenting the loss of a relationship over a misunderstanding, but I don't think that's any reason why a man shouldn't cry (and a teen boy is just a young man).

  3. I agree boys and men should be allowed to cry at anything that gives them grief not to often leads to bottling things up which in turn leads to fighting, violence or self-harm. It was very modern age to write this into a novel as I think society expects the opposite which is a real shame. We need more authors like this one who goes a little way to changing societies attitude.