Not to Worry. Real Men Can Cry


They cry before the camera, and they do so unapologetically.p. In the days following Sept. 11, television viewers were inundated with images of weeping men: Howard Lutnick, the chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald; the real estate mogul Larry Silverstein; David Emil, owner of the Windows on the World restaurant; the CBS anchor Dan Rather; Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik; Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen; and countless others. Even the mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, long seen by many as more callous than compassionate, shed tears for lost colleagues and friends.p. How things have changed. In 1972, Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine, the early frontrunner among Democratic presidential candidates, wept at a press conference after denouncing a newspaper editorial critical of his wife. His campaign collapsed.p. “It changed people’s minds about me, of what kind of guy I was,” he said. “They were looking for a strong, steady man, and here I was weak.”p. Are tears no longer a sign of weakness? Are Robert Bly’s woods and John Gray’s Martian cave, where men could emote in privacy, obsolete? Many would be pleased if that were so. According to Dr. William Pollack, the author of “Real Boys” (Random House, 1998) and the director of the Center for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., boys, like girls, show “vulnerable, empathic, caring emotions until we push it out of them.” And, Dr. Pollack says, male violence, depression and drug abuse are in part a response to this training.p. Heartfelt sadness and the willingness to experience one’s emotions are precursors to “real warriorship,” said the late Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa in “Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior.” “The ideal is that the warrior should be sad and tender, and because of that, the warrior can be very brave as well.”p. That seems to sum up the death of Jeremy Glick, a passenger on the hijacked plane that crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside on Sept. 11. Mr. Glick’s wife (and high school sweetheart) told “Dateline NBC” that she had seen Jeremy cry only once, when their daughter was born. “And then when everything was happening on the plane, he was crying,” she said.p. Mr. Glick had called her from the plane to say goodbye, after which it is believed that he and fellow passengers attacked the hijackers, possibly preventing the plane from being flown into the White House.p. To be sure, crying has become much more acceptable for men in recent years, said Tom Lutz, author of “Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears” (Norton, 2001).p. In addition, Giuliani did not cry in such a way that he would seem “out of control,” said Glenn Hendler, University of Notre Dame associate professor of English and co-author of “Sentimental Men: Masculinity and the Politics of Affect in American Culture” (University of California, 1999).p. “The meaning of a man’s display of emotions depends a great deal on how he has performed masculinely in the past,” he added. “If Giuliani hadn’t seemed so unsentimental, even inhumane, previously, would we have been so affected by his display of emotion?”p. Paradoxically, while men have been released from tearlessness, it is increasingly expected of women. “While male figures of authority have been given more latitude, in recent years,” Mr. Lutz said, “women in authority are under stricter sanctions not to cry and to show the kind of stoicism we used to expect from men as a sign of their leadership abilities.”p. It’s doubtful, in other words, that leaders like Condoleezza Rice or Hillary Rodham Clinton would get much sympathy if they welled up.

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