*dusts off blog* Geez, it’s been a while. It’s not that I haven’t been writing anything in the half-year I’ve left this to lay dormant, but I’ve just been writing in smaller bursts. So some of the things I’ll be posting on here in the near future are smaller pieces that I’ve written elsewhere, usually as commentary on other social justice websites.

Anyway, do you know what really bothers me? Shaming people for crying.

Now, there are some areas here where I know I can’t talk with authority. I’m thinking in particular about the “white/cis woman’s tears” phenomenon, which isn’t exclusive to women and generally refers to people who try to avoid taking responsibility for their own fucking up through emotional appeals and antagonizing the person who called them out. But if you ask me, the issue should be not that the person’s crying, but that they’re being a manipulative, privileged twit.

In my experience, very few people outside of professional actors can cry on command, and the vast majority of the time it’s beyond the person’s control. I know this because I cry extremely easily. The mockery I got for this throughout my childhood and adolescence made me internalize that crying equaled failure, particularly when I realized that while petty things like getting a B on a test made me cry, sad movies didn’t. (I always thought, “Why cry about it? It’s just a movie”…I am SUCH an Aspie) Neither, to be honest, did the deaths of my grandmothers, since one I maybe saw five times in my life and the other was someone with whom I never quite saw eye to eye. I felt as if I had too many faucets in my mental waterworks, but the ones I was supposed to have were broken. What finally cured me of this attitude was the one time in my life I couldn’t cry—when I was having the OCD-related panic attacks that would later send me to the hospital and on a nearly year-long academic leave. I wanted to cry then more than I’d ever wanted to in my life, but no tears came, which sunk me further into wretchedness. After the hell I went through began to lift, I knew never to take my ability to cry for granted again.

This is why I can’t blame anyone for crying, no matter how much I may agree with general criticism of the person. Even with John Boehner, I would criticize him for being a loudmouth reactionary, but refuse to join the public mocking him for his crying. This has very real ramifications in someone’s PR—in 1972, Edmund Muskie was swept out of the Democratic primary for crying in public! Some may claim that things have improved since then, that a man crying in public shows that he’s compassionate, but that’s only in the baldest of senses—way more people are going to call him a sissy. Women crying in public is no better in the public eye, as it prompts people to go, “Oh, typical feminine weakness.” (And I can only assume it’s the same for an androgyne like me, especially someone who’s read as a woman.)

The fact is that on a public level, crying is still seen as a sign of immaturity and weakness, and it saddens me to see this attitude within the social justice community…characterizing someone making petty complaints with “Waaah! Waaah!” remarks isn’t cool, even if the complaints are indeed bunk. There are far better ways of skewering them. And a lot of the time, from what I’ve seen, offering sympathy to someone crying profusely only extends as far as how willing the “sympathizer” is to be seen with the crier until they feel too embarrassed to continue. People cry in all sorts of different ways—silently or loudly, alone or with a loved one, from profound grief or simple frustration. It’s no substitute for words, but it’s a chemical release and often washes out the gunk in our brains before we can say something more coherently. Perhaps we need a new version of that old Free To Be You And Me song “It’s All Right To Cry”—”Everyone Has The Right To Cry.”