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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

And What Is This?

Posted by on September 12 at 9:35 AM

As I prepared to leave my apartment earlier this morning, my ears heard one of the worst sounds in the universe: a young man crying. Through the living room window I saw the pathetic subject (between 11 and 13) crying as he waited for a school bus. I had no idea what was making him cry, but no matter what the cause—a scolding from mommy, the death of his furry pet, humiliation from an older brother—nothing is bad enough, worthy enough for a young (or old) man (and I only speak for men) to cry about. I come from a culture that allows men to hold hands as they walk. That is totally acceptable. But to collapse into tears like a Greek actor? How can you do such a thing and hope to maintain a strong will of mind, a will against a world that is at every moment trying to overwhelm you? The best thing we can teach our boys is to cast on their moments of grief an icy eye or shatter them with laughter but, no matter what, never retreat into the imbecility of overemotional, overloud tears.

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Oh dear god, fire this idiot.

Please don't reproduce.

Charles - isn't it a bit early to be so baked?

O.K., maybe I shouldn't take the bait, but really, Charles? If a child of yours died a sudden and horribly violent death, you'd "cast an icy eye" or "shatter" the moment with laughter? Weeping has its place--and its function.

Charles... You finally lost me.

You mention the cultural divide between where you came from and where you live now. Where you came from, dudes can hold hands. Where you live now, dudes can cry. Being impassive or distracting in a moment of sadness sounds awfully uptight to me. Probably like being grossed out by 2 straight dudes holding hands sounds awfully uptight to some people. Your observation ultimately sounds like that of someone who doesn't fully understand what he is looking at. Now if only we could live in a place where dudes could hold hands and cry without being looked down upon, we'd have something.


you are an idiot.

i don't know about 'in your culture', but here in the US we're seeing an epidemic of men who are in their 40s, 50s, and 60s, who are dying too young. the rates of depression among men at this age are sky high. blood pressure problems and heart disease are extremely common. rates of suicide among middle-aged men are also very high-- particularly following a stressful event like a divorce or a job loss.


because in america, for so long, it was not okay for men to cry-- we systematically told men that they were not allowed to express emotion, aside from anger, and as a result, men internalize all their repressed feelings and its taking a toll on their lives.

hurrah to the little boy that cried.

Are you for real?
A young man?
This was a boy and there is nothing wrong with crying.
Did you think to go ask him what was wrong?
Or were you to busy turning an "icy eye" to the whole situation?

Well, my son is close to that age. He's cried a couple of times in the past year or so. It was mostly a function of being tired and not being able to control the very real emotions he was feeling. It is of course a wrenching feeling to be a parent and experience this in your child. But a boy that age is really quite young in an emotional sense, so I see crying as a normal coping mechanism - it is the body calling a timeout, "no more input now," if you will. As he matures he likely will be able to "act more stoic," although I'd agree with some of the previous posters that trying too hard to subjugate emotions just to put on a straight face stresses the hell out of my demographic cohort.

I suppose you were trying to be hip or ironic or something, but Jesus Charles, you really are a pompous twit.

Do you remember what it was like to be that age? The poor kid is going through hormonal rushes that, if you were to get them now, would leave you a blubbering mess, despite whatever your bullshit cultural code is.

When I was that age, I was sent on a plane alone once to go see my dad in New York. I was excited and happy, but as the plane was taxiing on the tarmac, I suddenly got desparately homesick and burst into tears. I was mortified.

Luckily, an adult - probably a father, like you are - was kind enough to give me a Kleenex and tell me it was OK, and ten minutes later I was fine.

Would it have killed you to drop the hipster pose for a second and do the same thing?

Yeah, a young boy crying isn't too bad. But as a woman, if there is something other women with any strength or self-esteem cannot tolerate it's man tears (if not connected to grieving or something substantial). It isn't sexy, attractive or remotely touching. It's very uncomfortable and no one wants to shag a wuss. American culture encourages people to show their feelings. My question is why? To subject the rest of us to your discomfort? Those of us who watch it don't give a shit about your tears so put a lid on it. It's time to stop this emotional bullshit and suck it up!

What's really weird about this post is that Charles is forever bursting into tears during edit meetings.

If America would just go for those three-day retreats in the woods where the grown men enact mytho-dramas and circumcise a handful of boys' penes, we'd probably have a generation of youg men with a sense of responsibility and belonging to their community. And boys who have been initiated into adulthood by placing the individual in the larger context of the intersection of the psyche, the soma, and the pneuma--these boys-to-men have a true sense of community and have no need to create their own initiatory acts--drugs, gangs, harrassing people at malls. These are pseudo-initiatory acts with dead ends. They foster a false sense of connectedness and sameness and, in the end, contain no element of terrible and profound mystery.

Yes, if America learned how to initiate its boys into manhood through mythology, there'd be a lot less trouble with our society and probably less crying babies.

I agree Charles. i certainly don't want to live in a future, run by the children of today, who think it's ok to cry in public like that. the children i see around lately remind me of that little bit of vomit you catch during a big burp.

He was probably just overcome by the lack of world-classness in Seattle's architecture. And something about Marxism.


I think Charles is off his rocker.

I'm crying just thinking about it.

you took a comment about an 11 or 13 year old boy and tuned it into something all about you not wanting to "shag a wuss". People cry. Recently I visited my father he has Alzheimers and dementia he still knows who his kids are but at 83 has become emotional under some situations especially when hugging his kids after not seeing them for awhile or when having to say goodbye to them after a visit. Now would you like to turn this situation into a self centered view about how you would not shag a crying man. If you feel uncomfortable about men crying then you clearly need to address the problem you have. People (men and women) cry for many different reasons it is ok but what is not ok is the suck it up attitude from some people. It is not toughness or strength you show when telling people to suck it up it is total weakness and fear towards people showing emotion. Spinning this story about a 11 or 13 year old boy crying into something about you not wanting to shag crying men is worse as the original post.

Charles, what the fuck is your problem? Thank God there is no way for this child to know about this post and I hear that in the Africa, 13 year olds are often given guns with the caveat to go out, earn manhood, and kill, kill, kill... so why did you leave Africa again? Are you one of the wusses who couldn't stomach killing when you were 13 or did you kill, kill, kill and escaped to become a writer in America? Either way, you shed no tears EVER about leaving the Africa you sometimes tell us you love? Bullshit.

So what if this kid had a scolding from mom or brother, or suffered a death of something loved? Would you rather he was breaking shit, acting all strong and fierce and shooting a gun at their troubles?

Crying, tears, are a response to extreme emotions... maybe you should read some psych books and drop those Marxist tomes of yours.

I love seeing men cry. I can't think of anything better.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH.... i'm crying on the inside but I steel it over with manical laughter. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. SOoooooo much better.

Charles is a master in the arts of trolling. Y'all don't get it.

that was not masterful

fuckin bullshit. My dad died unexpectedly when I was 14, and you can be damn sure I cried. You wanna mock me for it? get the fuck over here and let this cryin fag kick your fuckin ass, ice-boy.

Matt @ 6, there is in fact a place where men can hold hands and cry and are not looked down upon. It's called France. French men will cry at the drop of a hat, and think nothing of it. So will most Europeans, for that matter. Much healthier, IMHO.

And Charles, as much as I love your generally love your peculiar diatribes, even when I don't always understand you, you are completely wrong in this instance. That is because you are a philosopher, and have studied little of biology. Crying is a natural response to pain (both physical and emotional). Our discomfort when we hear crying is also a biological response. It is the caveman part of our brain telling us: "there is something wrong concerning our offspring; please attend to it immediately". It is completely natural for us to want that sound to go away. But telling the crying child to repress their emotions and stop crying is not the solution. Finding the cause of the crying, and either comforting them or fixing what is wrong is the solution.

Interesting post by Charles, but it just seems to be a cultural difference not some sort of Nietzsche trip he was on. It seems he was just commenting on what Zimbabweans call “saving face” The piece below was written by one of Charles’ homies from Harare:

Being from Central America, I think its just a product of tired Macho culture left over from the brutality of white colonialists, and it has nothing to do with what Mudede says about facing the world, it is just simple tired macho crap. Same thing you see in inner city US, where kids get jumped if they cry or the state pen where you better not cry.

Zimbabwe is a country with a culture that places a high premium on the concept of “saving face.”. With regards to emotional pain and mourning; you cry only when it is appropriate like at funerals. And if you’re a man you’re brought up to cry even less. The logic of this idea seems to me to stem from the perception of open mourning as a public symbol of giving up and succumbing to one’s circumstances. At funerals when we cry it’s because (and you’ll often hear verbal expressions of this in the crying) there’s nothing we can do to revive the deceased. The same is true for physical pain; from an early age, Zimbabwean children are urged to bottle their emotional response to pain and only to cry when it’s too much to bear.
When you cry you admit you have been overcome, with that you lose face. Zimbabwean families will do everything they can before they throw up their arms in surrendar, or mourn publicly. This is the reason why when a family has an internal problem, the first person to seek external help however appropriate the move might be, will be castigated. Zimbabweans love to take care of their busines amongst themselves. That’s why Mugabe has succeeded in labelling Tsvangirai an arrant knave for “running and airing the nation’s dirty laundry publicly.”

I think you are all taking this too seriously. Charles isn't saying that bawling is bad, but to do it uncontrollably in public is maybe not such a good idea. I actually cried myself yesterday. I was thinking about people I loved who were at risk. I was in a park, but my tears were controlled; I didn't lose it. My face was still and a few tears strolled down my happy face. I also had sunglasses on. I believe that any strong emotional outbursts of any kind in public are symptomatic of a feeling of oceanic invisibility, a vast loneliness and indifference towards others and a lack of responsibility and self control. The current conflict in the mid-east region is the result of a leadership that can't keep it cool after 9/11. It's a vast, public bawling.

When will Charles just shut the EFF up? Is ANY of his stuff worth reading???

@ seattl98104 - you're right.

Sorry, Dobbs, you're giving him too much credit:

"nothing is bad enough, worthy enough for a young (or old) man (and I only speak for men [and apparently that includes young boys]) to cry about. . . ."

I think that's pretty clear.

I'm not much of a crier, but you know what? I reserve the right, especially, if, say, I'm in a room with the dead body of a good friend. Even if there are other people there.

Kudos to Chuck for calling out that little pussy! Sounds like that kid needs a couple of good beatdowns until his weepy girly-feelings are crammed down into a tiny ball of rage waiting to explode in a workplace hail of bullets. Like the rest of us.

A man who isn't afraid to cry is a man who isn't afraid.

Maybe he found his lost ferret and it was dead?

Maybe he was crying because he saw a drunken African staring in his window at 7am.

Charles, do you remember Rosy Grier's advice? It's Alright to Cry!

charles, shame on you. i really expect more compassion from a man whose writing has, at times, caused my eyes to well with tears.

to discount human emotion is to discount life itself.

What an undreamy and unpoetic post! Charles, you're losing your number one fan!


I am with Charles 100% on this one. It is a sick culture that allows its men to lose control of their emotions. Expressing sorrow is one thing, but uncontrolled weeping is unacceptable. It should be discourgaed generally, but ESPECIALLY among men. It is these kind of displays that have led to a nation of man-children who can't fight, can't hunt, don't know how to fix their own engines, and spend their time reading fashion magazine and shopping on line. It's embarrassing and should be stopped. Thank you Charles!

I second Amy Kate

Dude, cut the kid some slack. He just found his Mom's Hump 2 entry on You Tube.

SEME, where did you get this? It is exactly my point: "...From an early age, Zimbabwean children are urged to bottle their emotional response to pain and only to cry when it’s too much to bear.
When you cry you admit you have been overcome, with that you lose face." Those who cry too easily cheapen the value of that form of emotional expression. When a Zimbabwean man cries, then you know things are really, really bad.

In America, when a man cries, it means shit has finally hit the fan for him and you should move aside buddy... those tears will soon turn into a fist in your mouth if you don't watch out and/or shut up.

Obviously, this post was aimed specifically at ANNE.

The last time I was in Zim I wanted to cry. What a fucking hellhole of a country. Within 10 hours I hit a cow in a herd being lead down the fucking road, was almost car jacked entering a major city, barely was able to find gas, and had a hell of time paying the damn toll to leave the County. But hey men can't cry there so...

This is as bad as the asses who feel it's their responsibility to tell women to smile.

Sorry, Emotion-police, but not all boys are capable of being sociopathic monsters who "cast on their moments of grief an icy eye or shatter them with laughter'.

Icey eye=dreamy
Moment of grief shattered with laughter=poetic

Ha ha! What Sean Nelson said.

Any he calls me harsh. First he's a lazy journalist having Slog readers do his work. Now, he's a lazy Slog poster. The best he can do is mock an 11 year old.

I had the crying successfully shamed out of me at a very early age.

The last year of my very stoic father's life, he would tear up whenever I called him on the phone. That meant more to me than the one time he tried to choke out the words "I love you".

Ive seen the death of my father at the age of 83, and the deaths of far too many friends and lovers far before their time. I've shed a tear for none of them and it sucks not having that outlet for emotional release, believe me.

What the hell is wrong with you Charles?

word to the mother of dan paulus.

This is just as asinine as Dan's post about breast feeding. Now men can't cry and don't want to see boobs either? If someone killed your mother I'd bet you'd cry. You probably made him cry; you are a fright!

you're a professor?
my mother was killed by cancer almost exactly three years ago. i felt (and still feel) profoundly sad about it but i didn't shed one tear for her corpse. i cast a cold eye on it.

Here you go Charles. I think they explain it very well here. It might explain why black americans place such high value on keeping your "bidness" private.

What's this clusterfuck about? Crying? I say whatever relieves your stress. What a silly stigma. I saw my father cry for the first time when his father died. And it was like that "moment of grief" had come to specifically "shatter" a life's worth of "icy eyes."

Hi dad,

when did you hold a man's hand?
please take me to wild waves.

love, Eben

I don't hear your knock upon my door
I don't have your lovin' anymore
Since you been gone I'm a-hurtin' inside
Well I want you baby by my side, Yeah

I'm cryin', I'm cryin'
Hear me cryin' baby
Hear me cryin'

Im lonely and blue baby every night
Yeah, you know you didn't treat me right
And now my tears begin to fall
Well I want you baby and that's all

But I'm cryin', you know I'm cryin'
Hear me cryin' baby
Hear me crying
Hear me crying

Right on Charles. The sensitive male crap of the 1990's is finally dead. Men who cry are assholes. Charles you rock, and the Stranger is the only newpaper to print the truth.


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