“Girls can cry”, I heard another girl say this to me. If you are an Indian you can relate to my next sentence. The same girl also told me. “Chee, but boys don’t cry because they can fight. They are brave.” As a 10-year old girl, I was told about how girls are “allowed” to cry. This was not told by my parents, thankfully, but by a group of other 10-year-old girls just like me.
Peer pressure always wins over parental gyaan. And so, I believed those 10-year-olds more than my own parents. However, I grew up to believe that boys also cry when I saw my father cry at his sister’s wedding.
That incident changed my belief system. It shackled my perceived fact that “Boys don’t cry”, and that emotions are exclusive to gender.
Emotions are emotions.
Emotions are equated to Stereotypes
Most children who grow up into adults and are startled to see men cry. They go through a similar cycle of belief formation. But, I noticed an additional phenomenon influencing this process.
Statement 1: Girls can cry.
Statement 2: Boys don’t cry.
Do you see the glaring difference? The first statement is also designed to feed a victim mindset into the person — a girl or a boy. If you recall, what that 10-year-old told me, you should equate not crying to being brave.
Now, the second statement can instill a mindset of self-definition. A mindset that helps you establish your own belief system can also help you self-perceive your character.
This indicated something very powerful. If the first statement is told to a boy, it probably empowers the kid to cry. And if the second statement is told to a girl, then it becomes a matter of obligation.
The intent of each statement reverses with gender. So, the powerplay is very little about society and gender, it is about one’s personal mindset.
Unfortunately, just like what happened to me in my earlier anecdote may also happen to others. Many other women may succumb to social pressure and start obliging their nature. Sadly, the nature to oblige also instills a victim’s mindset that encourages women to self-sympathize. It allows them to be a victim to society, family, friends, and things.
A Small Detour
We often mention a lot about gender equality and diversity. Some unfortunate women undergo a lot of abuse. And, to step out of it is not easy. Very few of those women step-up to speak the truth before others or to not oblige the abuse. Those who don’t, I feel sorry for them.
But, for those who speak up, I have learned that their feminity is not making the difference. It is their mindset that makes all the difference.
Their non-obliging mindset helps them stay away from being a victim to their own belief systems, and fossiled rules of conduct. Such a mindset helps them take action against stereotypes.
This mindset does not let you grow into a victim. The person inside you tells you, how others should treat you.
How I am treated is my choice?
If I am humiliated or abused and I feel like a victim, then let’s not choose to be a victim. This is something that I would share with both men and women.
But, if you need to put forward your voice, then you need to choose to be empowered.
Stay empowered. Girls may not cry and boy may cry.
Inspiration: Here is a video that might inspire you to stay empowered.