I'm going to confess something that makes me a huge asshole: Andrew Reiner's crying makes me uncomfortable. He'd like you to think my discomfort is all wrapped up in patriarchy and gendered expectations, but he's wrong.
Take a look at Reiner's own misguided example where he defends his right to cry:
For a good year and a half after that everything set off tears. At one point a therapist I was seeing said: "Look, if you're still crying every day the next time I see you, you're going on an antidepressant. This just isn't healthy anymore."
"No," I told her. "I can't."
"Why not?" she asked. "This has been dragging on for too long."
"If I was female, would you be pushing antidepressants so hard?" I asked.
She paused. "This is about your well-being," she said.
"Would you?" I asked.
"Maybe not," she confessed.
That was when it hit me. "I don't want to stop crying," I said. "It feels sacred." Crying was the good fight.
Chronic, daily crying is problematic. Of course chronic crying immediately after a tragedy is understandable. But this guy went on for 18 months. That behavior isn't normal, and it is a sign of a bigger emotional problem. I'm more shocked that the therapist got caught up in the question, assuming what Reiner is saying is accurate here.
At this point, Reiner's tears turn manipulative. He never comes out and says it, but his narrative turns him into a crying crusader rather than someone who is openly weeping over specific emotional circumstances. (Coincidentally, the former is what MRAs frequently accuse women of doing so Reiner makes me wonder why he thinks women are so much more open about crying.)
I understand what Reiner is trying to do: change minds of people who are uncomfortable with a man crying. But literally shoving his tears in strangers' faces and hoping for turnabout change in deeply-rooted, ingrained gender expectations is ridiculous and unrealistic.
Reiner goes on with a wholly unfair comparison.
Does Reiner really not understand the difference? Durant was crying tears of joy over winning a major award that was closely tied to his professional career. Boehner's tears are insincere because he acts like he really wants what is best for this country but as soon as his tears are wiped, he's back to screwing over poor people, women, and minorities in favor of rich white men. (Reiner completely missed meaning of the Justin Timberlake song that was playing in the video.) If Durant was a big jerk who continually screwed over other people on his way to the top, his tears would be mocked too because that type of crying would be an empty, laughable gesture.
Funny thing is, I've dated plenty of men who have no problems crying. My husband cries way more than I ever have in our marriage. My ex Mike* cried on a weekly basis. I'm not exaggerating. He literally cried nearly every time we were together. This was 20 years ago, so I don't remember exactly what things upset him, but the tears were usually tied to his career, his experiences with women romantically rejecting him, his looks, or his lack of a college degree. Mike cried during A Time to Kill because he said he witnessed a man smacking around a woman and he didn't do anything about it so that why he was uncontrollably bawling 20 minutes into the movie in a theater full of strangers. (When we split, Mike told me this never happened. To this day, I still have no idea why he made it up.)
My exes' crying was in direct contradiction with how they acted for 99% of their day. To everyone else, they were the happy, laid back, compliant, helpful, and flexible worker/son/brother/friend/airline passenger/whatever. But as soon as they got home to me, all that would revert to a weeping mess on my couch. Even more ironic, there was literally nothing I could do to help their tears. For example, I can't force a person to finish a college degree anymore than I can go to someone boss and order that boss to treat my boyfriend better because that's creepy, controlling, and weird, especially when said boyfriend refuses to take any action in the first place.
Of course these guys would never change because that arrangement — me serving as an unqualified therapist — suited them better than actual therapy or making substantive changes.
Similar to Reiner's tears, I found my exes' crying to be highly manipulative. Sure those men had a lot of emotions, and I don't begrudge them for that because that's normal human behavior. What I do begrudge them for is their inability to see a therapist and deal with previous emotional trauma as well as minor grievances when those grievances actually occur. Their behavior was a daily emotional dumptruck, and I was forced to serve as a receptacle for chronic mental health issues that never went away. Where this comparison veers from Reiner's point is that, yes, patriarchy and gendered expectations really are to blame in my exes' cases.
I don't think it's a huge coincidence that Reiner never bothers give insight into his wife's feelings about all of this. After reading his article, I felt exhausted and worn out from all of his emotions. I can't imagine what's it's like to be married to him.
Reiner and I agree on one thing: it's completely okay for any human to cry as a healthy outlet. Where we differ is here: I am against using tears as a way to punish and/or manipulate people into doing whatever you want.
*Name not changed because fuck that guy.