Tidbit: Do You Cry?

I have been going through some things recently, and I've realized that I don't know how to cry.  I've been aware of this for a long time, but I started wanting to do something about it recently.

Crying, and whether you're able to and willing to, is related to issues of gender, masculinity, and other issues.  but I don't know whether they come from South Asia or whether they come from the United States or whether they come from The Empire.  For example, consider this:

Historically, men have been free to cry. The idea that men shouldn’t been seen crying is really a 20th century creation, largely created by movies and warped ideas of male heroism. You can buy into this distorted idea of what make a man if you want to, but I personally feel that a man who has the strength to admit and accept his emotions is a much stronger hero than anything that Hollywood has ever produced.

So maybe it's a silly question to ask, but I want to know, do you cry?  What allows you to?  If you don't cry, what do you think accounts for this?  Is there something specific to the emotional practices of South Asia that influences this?

Perhaps difficult and extremely personal questions, so  be gentle with each other in the comments if you choose to engage in the conversation.

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Comments

wanderer, what you wrote was

wanderer, what you wrote was beautiful. This is how I feel too. I don't care about trying to be "strong" or trying to be the typical stoic male any more. Crying is healing, and I too wish I could let the tears flow when I am in pain.

I’m sorry I didn’t do that,

I’m sorry I didn’t do that, it’s because I don’t see things your way (which is inaccurately and falsely intellectualizing everything and expecting academic responses in return, especially when it comes to your own personal issues).

DI, thanks for your apology for this line and more generally for what I feel is an opening to communicating about some of the issue in communication on this blog. the boiled down version of my response - "But why gotta be so negative in the first place man?" and "I feel like I've been overly negative in talking to you in the past, and I'm sorry for that" and "here's how i think we can move forward..."

In terms of answering my questions and whatnot - I've been trying to communicate implicitly to everyone that comments on any of my posts that you have power in this situation - at least when I write - that if I write something in a way or in specifics that you object to - you don't have to answer my questions - you can tell me that the questions are stupid, you can tell me that the whole topic is stupid - you can offer your own thoughts on a broader topic that the thread is a part of - as kawaa did (in a way that wasn't really academic but was, as you can see form my comments, much appreciated). The conversation is more important than my ego or my sense of control over the narrow direction of it, assuming goodfaith interest in the braoder topic.

The only request I have is that it's done in a way that's not violent and that it sticks broadly to what the conversation is about (so in a conversation about "Crying" it's totally legitimate to bring in emotions, masculinity, gender, race, personal experiences, movies, etc. as people have done - and allow those tangents to move forward in the conversation - moving the converation to the Eurocup would be threadjacking :).

There are some important issues you raised in your comments - for example what "personal issues" are and how we talk about them vs. other issues (which are presumably poltiical)-- is relevant to a lot of topics that I feel are important like DV, alcoholism, mental health, sexuality, etc. - but it's one that i feel like i can't talk about with you because I will be told that I'm too intellectual or too academic or too theoretical or too something...and never given the space to just be. I feel I would ideally do more to listen to what you're saying and what you're communicating both emotionally and analytically, to try to understand where you're coming from, but it's hard for me to do that at this point. I feel like the reason is constant critique of who I am at this moment in a way that hurts me, which it makes it hard for me to do anything exceept feel bad. So I don't respond unless I feel like i have to or I see a possible opening, like here.

Sure, there are infinite

Sure, there are infinite varieties of “culture” in South Asia as locally practiced etc and there are specific circumstances for people by jat, nationality, family, “religion” and all the other categories.

Did you mean to say "jati"?

Dr. Anon: "I think what I

Dr. Anon:

"I think what I have written in the past few years on this blog and elsewhere demonstrates that I’m aware of the objections you’re raising to the framing"

So why include it, then?

"why not try to simply address the topic of emotions in a way that you think would be useful to try to or reframe the post in a helpful way like kawaa did?"

I answered your questions in your post, but apparently my answers weren't satisfactory. Would you like me to put a brown, Freudian psycho-analytic spin on it?

"address whatever else you’re interested on this broad topic of how emotiosn play out in the many many many different and varied settings of South Asia and its diasporas?"

I'm sorry I didn't do that, it's because I don't see things your way (which is inaccurately and falsely intellectualizing everything and expecting academic responses in return, especially when it comes to your own personal issues). I've either seen Desi men from the Desh, American Desis, Mexican, Arab, East Asian, Italian, and white guys cry in front of me, or at least confide in me the moments in which they wept. Clearly, the men I know do not have problems showing their emotions or crying, it's just that some people (myself included) do not bawl at the drop of the dime (barring Bollywood filmi time). Maybe my case is unique, but I'm not about to make up some theory concerning 1 billion-plus people just to suit your expectations.

Kawaa:

"And so they go around being crazy and dysfunctional — crying or dry-eyed — and the world has to deal with that sublimation. And I would suspect that is the norm, not an exception."

I don't think there are many non Desi people going around advertising that they are on medication, so I think that this is the norm for most people, Desi or not (despite the fact that there are many, many Americans on medication thanks to the drug industry in the US).

Thank you all for speaking so

Thank you all for speaking so openly and honestly about this topic.

Kawaa, thanks for writing your comment the way the post should have read :) Honestly, I've just been watching too much sex and the city :) I agree that the the failure to deal with emotional/mental health issues well and to develop effective and nonviolent communication in family and social settings is one of the reasons you see alcoholism, domestic violence, denial of sexual violence (against girls/women especially), and a lot of other issues in many, many different varieties of south asian and diasporic communities. At a Bengali American Hindu bourgie puja, I have seen a grown man slap down a small child, and no one raised an eyebrow, let alone did anything (well until my rage goaded my father into it, who had his own history of hitting which I found out about/confirmed my memories of later). Things become SO not simple SO quickly. But as several people pointed out, there's such variation in the ways in which even different fairly well off South Asian american Hindu diasporic communities express themselves- as evidenced at minimum by a Punjabi / Bengali wedding in the U.S. I went to :) How to understand what's common and what's not to the many many varieties of South Asian communities and for those issues that are "common" which are more broad than "South Asia" (whether postcolonial or something else or even...universal?)

Nizam, thanks for your support. I agree with you that indian masculinities--that i have seen, anyway--are very different in some respects from american masculinities- from the handholding that people not from South Asia often mistake (or not? :) ) for queerness to men (and people more generally) sleeping in the same bed with each other without necessarily having a sexual connotation to it (or when does it, in some subterranean way?). On the other hand, there are a lot of commonalities - domestic violence, assertions of superiority over women, etc. are evident in both areas, though they play out in different ways.

Desi Italiana, the questions you're raising are totally legitimate but self-evident--I think what I have written in the past few years on this blog and elsewhere demonstrates that I'm aware of the objections you're raising to the framing, and I would guess that many of the peopel on t his thread are also, since they objected as well. why not try to simply address the topic of emotions in a way that you think would be useful to try to or reframe the post in a helpful way like kawaa did? address whatever else you're interested on this broad topic of how emotiosn play out in the many many many different and varied settings of South Asia and its diasporas? or not...your choice how to deal with my imprecise writing :)

BQ, Your assessment gibes with my experiences of the bourgie Bengali Indian Hindu community in the U.S. One is either "pagol" or "not" in the discourse of the members of my families who talk about this. I'm on a couple of anti-depressant type things, have one family member who is "crazy" and another who is basically in the same position as me though worse off and hasn't been treated effectively psychologically, socially, or medically. My father used to drink in the basement, but was not an alcoholic (I guess?); now my brother does this, basically. But I think this is an area that could do with a lot more looking into because the fact that no one talks about it leads to...no one talking about it.

FW, was using the bangla just because I didn't feel like using an academized translation of an indigenous word ;)--call it linguistic nationalism that's open enough to be understood by other people who speak the academic lingo or Hindi (or other languages?). But if you want, here you go: pakora; Dil Se; cummerbund; dhoti. Demonstrate away your local knowledge.

All, "emotional practices" is just a phrase I made up - basically to mean the ways in which emotions are felt, shown, dealt with in a social context. Apologies for the unclear writing.

And thanks!!!! You're awesome.

"Is there something specific

"Is there something specific to the emotional practices of South Asia that influences this?"

Jesus Christ...this sentence has completely gotten on my nerves and reeks of a lot of things, but I won't say them because I don't know how to be gentle :)

"Crying, and whether you’re able to and willing to, is related to issues of gender, masculinity, and other issues. but I don’t know whether they come from South Asia or whether they come from the United States or whether they come from The Empire."

I sincerely want to know, but do you think you might be intellectualizing this a bit too much?

"I want to know, do you cry?"

Yes, but extremely rarely. But I weep copiously during Bollywood films (yes, this is the truth).

"What allows you to?"

"Allow" meaning what? In what circumstances do I cry? What unleashes a torrent of tears?

"If you don’t cry, what do you think accounts for this?"

Personality? Few things make me cry? I have other ways of venting frustration/anger/sadness?

i know "cultural" context

i know "cultural" context matters, but sometimes the categorizations are too broad, you know? I think it\'s a very personal and individual thing. Since gender roles aren\'t the same across South Asia, I have to disagree w the framing.

the sound of children singing makes me cry :P

I think i was a big crier in high school.

“Is there something specific

“Is there something specific to the emotional practices of South Asia that influences this?”

OK, what exactly is an "emotional practice"? I didn't know that emotions themselves were "practiced".....

“Crying, and whether you’re able to and willing to, is related to issues of gender, masculinity, and other issues. but I don’t know whether they come from South Asia or whether they come from the United States or whether they come from The Empire.”

A. What is "The Empire"?
B. Dude, you've really gone over the edge in theory on this one.

Let things JUST BE, for once, ok?

Zen out!

I think this is a great

I think this is a great question. I am an Aussie bloke, and I cry at all sorts of things. Most Bollywood movies can usually make me cry. Iris Dement almost invariably has me bawling into my cup of tea, as does listening to anything by one of my favorite songwriters who recently past away. I used to cry to his stuff occasionally,now it is automatic. This is really not culturally acceptable in most situations. It is unmanly, it is a sign of weakness. Do I care enough not to cry? Not really.
My sense is that this is not really the case in other cultures. Can men cry more freely in different parts of South Asia relative to itself and the west? What about for people of South Asian heritage of varying degrees living in the west? For instance, is there a difference between first and second generation desis in the US?
As I said, I think this is an interesting question and you should stop picking on the good Dr.

Dr. A, you said you are

Dr. A, you said you are having a hard time and I wanted to also say that I hope things get better.

Thanks bq, for your kind

Thanks bq, for your kind thoughts, and to all for your personal sentiments.

Sure, there are infinite varieties of "culture" in South Asia as locally practiced etc and there are specific circumstances for people by jat, nationality, family, "religion" and all the other categories. BUT with all that said - if the construction of masculinity in a particular way was part of colonialism (which is a standard argument) and if "emotions" are viewed as feminine and "rationality" in some kinds of post-enlightenment thinking (another standard argument), then doesn't that beg the question of exactly what ways (i.e. the HOW not the IF) south asian gender roles are colored by history, discourse, etc. and how that in turn affects emotional expression and gendered behavior?

Richard: "My sense is that

Richard:

"My sense is that this is not really the case in other cultures."

Obviously, you have not met the men I know, who are Desi and not.

I don't understand about how

I don't understand about how your incapability of crying and other issues have to be tied into 1 billion South Asians, tens of millions more in the diaspora, a geographical entity larger than Western Europe. I mean, what if that is just you, not the 'emotional practices' of South Asians and South Asian diasporans?

And BTW, what does 'emotional practices' mean? And whatever that means, I know that a geographical entity cannot have 'emotional practices', it's not a person.

Also, curious to know what the 'emotional practices' of white people are...

Tough crowd. You guys need to

Tough crowd. You guys need to work on loosening up your emotional practices. So what if it is just him? That's probably why he phrased it as a question: "Is there something?"

Or are you just trying to make Dr. Anon cry?

I have no idea what our colonial legacy might be in this respect, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if male attitudes towards crying were influenced by the male ideals in cinema (what's macho) -- so South Asian might even be a meaningful cultural unit, by that analysis. Dr A., I can say with some confidence that how crying men are positioned in Bollywood is different from how Hollywood is described in your quote (just watch the tsunami of blubbering in the final half-hour of Kal Ho Na Ho ... or further back, in Anand, and you'll see what I mean).

But I don't have the faintest idea whether Indian or South Asian men are more sob-happy at large. So it might just be you.

I don't know how kosher

I don't know how kosher (halal?) it is to shift the frame of the conversation a little, but I think people in subcontinental cultures have trouble getting in touch with their emotional selves, and expressing themselves emotionally in a healthy manner. And this despite bawling at the movies.

Most members of my dad's family (desi side) are on medication of one sort or another, but they're not talking about it. And as far as I know, there are no mechanisms to talk about it. And so they go around being crazy and dysfunctional -- crying or dry-eyed -- and the world has to deal with that sublimation. And I would suspect that is the norm, not an exception.

I don’t know how kosher

I don’t know how kosher (halal?) it is to shift the frame of the conversation a little, but I think people in subcontinental cultures have trouble getting in touch with their emotional selves, and expressing themselves emotionally in a healthy manner. And this despite bawling at the movies.

Most members of my dad’s family (desi side) are on medication of one sort or another, but they’re not talking about it. And as far as I know, there are no mechanisms to talk about it. And so they go around being crazy and dysfunctional — crying or dry-eyed — and the world has to deal with that sublimation. And I would suspect that is the norm, not an exception.

Kawaa is onto something here.

Desis tend to be emotional yet secretive and in denial alot too.

Kawaa, this is a bit

Kawaa, this is a bit tangential, but my family is very much opposed to psych drugs and anti-therapy. I had assumed this was a broader thing/taboo among Asian Americans. I think it's reasonable considering the historical relationship between poc and this style of problem management. But I agree with you 100% that so many families just don't know how to handle conflict and stress properly. Of course this isn't limited to any one culture...I don't know how much my family is outside the "norm" for bourgie Bengalis or South Asians in general. You raise interesting questions.

Alot of people are anti-psych

Alot of people are anti-psych drugs, and with very good reason. They are very dangerous.

However, anti-therapy??? As in talking about one's problems? Seeking counseling/help?

I think that is a taboo amongst Indians coz they don't really air their dirty laundry, denial and all that, but it is changing in the metros like New Delhi, Mumbai, etc.

Dr. Anon: "I’m on a couple of

Dr. Anon:

"I’m on a couple of anti-depressant type things, have one family member who is “crazy” and another who is basically in the same position as me though worse off and hasn’t been treated effectively psychologically, socially, or medically. My father used to drink in the basement, but was not an alcoholic (I guess?); now my brother does this, basically. But I think this is an area that could do with a lot more looking into because the fact that no one talks about it leads to…no one talking about it."

I hadn't read this part of your response (since it wasn't addressed to me), so please forgive me for the line I wrote above, saying "which is inaccurately and falsely intellectualizing everything and expecting academic responses in return, especially when it comes to your own personal issues". I was unaware of the "personal issues" that you're going through.

I'm very sorry to hear about your problems. Personally, I'd be more interested in hearing about the experiences and issues you mention above because it puts things into perspective and context. It is easier to understand and discuss someone's experiences or specific topics such as child abuse, rather than talk about the emotions of Desis. But obviously, that is up to you since it's your private life :)

Desi Italiana: I don’t think

Desi Italiana:

I don’t think there are many non Desi people going around advertising that they are on medication, so I think that this is the norm for most people, Desi or not (despite the fact that there are many, many Americans on medication thanks to the drug industry in the US).

I meant talking to people -- family members, friends, professional counselors -- about their emotional issues, not talking to people about their medications. I suppose I should have been more explicit, but honestrly the entire discussion has been about opening oneself up emotionally.

The point is, in places like the US, there are resources out there to help people and the culture does not frown upon seeking that kind of help. In India and Pakistan, at least, this is not the case.

Perhaps my relatives would also be on medication in the West, but they would also have other therapies that add to coping with the world.

I don’t think there are many

I don’t think there are many non Desi people going around advertising that they are on medication, so I think that this is the norm for most people, Desi or not

Actually, all the non-desi people I know on meds are quite open about it. Very open in fact. They tell almost everyone. It's no biggie.

Personally I'm against the drugging of America, but what can you do?

And it kills me that ganja is STILL illegal here! An innocent herb!

Kava Kava: "Actually, all the

Kava Kava:

"Actually, all the non-desi people I know on meds are quite open about it. Very open in fact. They tell almost everyone. It’s no biggie."

Really? The folks I know do not tell everyone; just people close to them.

Kawa:

"I meant talking to people — family members, friends, professional counselors — about their emotional issues, not talking to people about their medications."

Hmmm...I don't know about that. I mean, I know people like the ones you describe above, but I also know of Desi folks who do talk about their issues and problems with people whom they trust, so I am not sure if it's fair to generalize like that, na? Conversely, I know non Desi folks who, in specific moments disclosed their 'secrets' and confided their problems after years of knowing me. Also, I think it depends on what kind of situation and problem it is. I think it depends on the personality, etc

"The point is, in places like the US, there are resources out there to help people and the culture does not frown upon seeking that kind of help. In India and Pakistan, at least, this is not the case."

That is true; there is a massive industry of therapy here in the US. But I don't agree it's a 'cultural' thing...

Personally I’m against the

Personally I’m against the drugging of America, but what can you do?

Well, as I've mentioned before, I think that psychiatrists in the U.S. often function as dealers. I think this has come about for a variety of reasons, but suprressing people's discontents and making them managemable for a capitalist economy in the easiest of ways and in ways that are most profitable, rather than actually helping people figure out what's going on, both personally and socially (and politically ;) is a much more dangerous route to go down and one that they might not be able to conceive of. And heroine and crack and alcohol and nicotine are ones that are politically difficult to endorse and also have social consequences that go well beyond the affects on the individual.

So they take the easy way for capital, and only rich people have sustained somewhat quality therapy access in the U.S. (but even that's questionable)

On the other hand, a point for optimism - 1) this is changing to some extent as more people who are NOT interested in making money or boosting pharmaceutical industry profits go into theray and 2) there is growing recognition of the "drugging of America" as you put it fairly well.

The key is to recognize that the widespread use of pschiatric meds to avoid dealing with real problems is a big problem, but that they do have a function in helping some people improve their lives (in conjunction with a lot of other things). It would be really easy to toss the baby out with the bathwater in this situation because the baby is quite small and the bathwater is the volume of an olympic pool.

but suprressing people’s

but suprressing people’s discontents and making them managemable for a capitalist economy in the easiest of ways and in ways that are most profitable, rather than actually helping people figure out what’s going on

You've summed it up PERFECTLY.

The most coherent and wise sentence I've read coming out of you yet!

I find when I get into an emotional funk, that lots of B vitamins, healthy, organic food, fresh air and sunshine, exercise, intellectual activity and socializing with caring people, helps me tremendously. And it's alot cheaper than drugs.

"I find when I get into an

"I find when I get into an emotional funk, that lots of B vitamins, healthy, organic food, fresh air and sunshine, exercise, intellectual activity and socializing with caring people, helps me tremendously. And it’s alot cheaper than drugs."

When I am in a funk, I:

1. Talk to people who I know care for me
2. Sleep
3. Write in a non-virtual journal
4. If it is sunny, spend the entire day outside, as it refreshes me. If rainy and cold, make myself some kick-ass, ginger-clove-cardamom- cinnamon chai and listen to ghazals (I know, this is lame, but listening to ghazals takes my mind off of things.
5. Read a book
6. If near the ocean, go sit there. If near the Himalayas, go stare at them for a while.

When I'm feeling low, I lose my appetite. Options #3, #4, #5 and #6 combined are ideal and awesome. Nothing clears up the blues as sitting on Pier 3,4,5,6 in SF with a journal in hand on a sunny day, or staring at the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas with either a book, or paper and pen.

It’s been a while since I

It’s been a while since I cried (except the movies) partially due to the mental rule I made when I was in high school,”never cry for yourself”. Crying for oneself invoked self pity which didnt help me see through things clearly and work something out courageously, so I abandoned this natural practice of venting out feelings through secretions of the eye.. but over the years whenever I have felt the need to cry, to even howl to bawl at the top of my lungs, to scream but I have as recommended “controlled” my emotions. In the whole practice of controlling, I sadly confess to you all that today I have forgotten to cry .Even if I want to, I cannot cry. It is strange but true I want to cry ,I want that light feeling that you have when you’ve cried your heart out, the clarity with which you can see after the tears have washed out your eyes, the peace the calm…all the other things that people have mentioned doing to get them through emotionally rough phases are but to give the mind and the body what crying naturally does but I will admit that they help you move on too, but I still believe crying is the initial step, it clears what you can call emotional traffic, washes the blackboard clean
Why and when did crying become a sign of weakness, and does it really have to continue to be so is what this piece of writing had me wondering? Naturally we are meant to cry, even animals cry but does this practice actually weaken our race, when did crying become a vestigial process, to be avoided as much in the real practical world.
Is being sensitive and emotional and expressing our feelings that pathetic, useless and weakening or is it just being human.
I want to cry, I want to unlearn the process of stopping the tears, gulping the lump that forms in my throat. I want to cry when I look at the children playing in the same playground that I played with my friends, I want to cry when I come across pictures of old times, I want to cry because I miss some people who have died, I want to cry that I cannot watch my favorite TV shows, I want to cry for the times the world was unfair to me and the times I got really lucky in life, I want to cry because something’s weren’t my fault and some were my fault, I want to cry for the abuse the world dealt me and the hate and jealousy it harbored in me, I want to cry because I just want the weight off my chest. Yes I want to cry..this I do realize, today I care not about the world to day thinking Of me as a cry baby, less masculine and weak in any sense, today I want to just cry but I cant because frankly I don’t remember how to cry….

PS: this a totally a personal opinion, I lay no claim of it being correct in all aspects just a very personal thought that this article invoked in me.

wanderer, thank you for

wanderer, thank you for sharing your experience :) It makes me feel good to know that I am not alone, because I related to so much of what you said. case in point:

Even if I want to, I cannot cry. It is strange but true I want to cry ,I want that light feeling that you have when you’ve cried your heart out, the clarity with which you can see after the tears have washed out your eyes, the peace the calm

I don't have much time now, so I'm just goign to thank you again (thank you) and wish you luck in your journey too and hope that you continue to post in this thread because I appreciate it.

Thanks!

A friend sent a link to a

A friend sent a link to a book on crying. Please excuse, those of you who don't like books and theory and whatnot.

I burned the last book I

I burned the last book I read

I burned the last book I

I burned the last book I read

You're supposed to burn it without reading it.

You're right. I just burned

You're right. I just burned two books without reading them to make up for the last one I did read.

good. i hope they were

good. i hope they were pseudosecular.

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