When I was in college, I did an internship with a bunch of 5th graders at a children’s theater company. The director was not a friendly man. Having grown up in a family of girls, I wasn’t surprised to see a few of the girls in tears; but I was quite surprised when several of the boys broke down and started crying. Now that I have four sons of my own, I know this is not unusual; boys feel the same variety and depth of emotions girls do.
If we trust cultural messages about “real men” or the invulnerable personas some of the men and boys around us try to portray, we might mistakenly believe that at some point in their development boys naturally stop crying, getting scared or feeling hurt; but they don’t. These emotional stereotypes hurt our boys in the same way that body image stereotypes hurt our girls.