Express your broad range of emotions – including fear, sadness and hurt – and support other men and boys in expressing their emotions in a safe way.
“Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.”- Mohsin Hamid
As socially constructed identities, boys and men learn “appropriate” gender roles in accordance to the masculine expectations of their given society. At an early age, boys get messages on what it means to be a boy. Cultural norms of what it means to “be a man” [link to ‘man box’] confines boys and men into a narrowly constructed definition of manhood. Boys are taught that the only feeling they are allowed to express is anger; all other emotions (fear, sadness, hurt, etc.) are signs of weakness, reserved only for women and girls.
It is imperative that we teach both boys and girls to express their broad range of emotions in safe and constructive ways. When we allow boys the freedom to have feelings and emotions, we also are able to teach empathy and nurture. Research studies prove that empathy increases happiness, healthy socialization and the courage to intervene as a bystander in situations of bullying, harassment or abuse.