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Change My Mind: Should Big Boys Cry?

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Did Bubba Watson embarrass the male sex by getting all weepy after he won the PGA Masters 2012? As reported on Huffpost (where you can also watch the video of Bubba blubbering):

Rather than let out a defiant sequence of yells like Tiger Woods did after winning at Bay Hill recently, Bubba Watson's reaction to winning the 2012 Masters was tender and poignant.
After sinking his second putt on the 10th green to win the playoff against Louis Oosthuizen, Watson bent down to pick up his keepsake from the cup. By the time he had risen, his eyes were watery with tears. He turned into an embrace with his caddie Ted Scott, his shoulders heaving with his emotion. While he shared that moment with Scott, Watson's mother came trotting out onto the green. The pair shared another touching moment.

For our ongoing debate series, "Change My Mind," we've asked two Huffpost contributors to duke it out, in a gentlemanly way, as to whether this scene creeped them out -- or if they welcomed this show of male tears. Who do you agree with?


Pre-debate poll:

Tell us your opinion before the debate starts to set the starting line

Men should not cry in public.

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Who makes the better argument?

Will Goldbloom Law Student

Thanks, Bubba, for reminding us that you and all of the other men that "feel" like you are the centre of attention.

Now everyone's checking their masculinity creeds to see if Bubba represents the 21st-century homme who, instead of drag-racing and working on an assembly line, has managed to ascertain the emotional maturity of an 18-year-old girl.

Man-crying, or simply, men crying, is the new sex without foreplay. It is an annoying and painful way of asserting power and garnering much more attention than is necessary. Ask any heterosexual woman in a heterosexual relationship with a man who has come of age in the post-Dworkin era -- men crying is a widely used tactic in robbing their female partners of emotional prowess. A serious relationship-related conversation about fidelity, future plans or sexual positions inevitably leads to a bout of tears. In between sobs, men utter phrases such as, "I'm just trying to understand where you're coming from" or "You never even ASKED me about how difficult it was to grow up thinking that I might be gay!" Most of the time, however, there is little emotional digging for either partner to do. It's just that these days it's inappropriate for men to expect women to smile and nod at their musings so instead they expect them to "key in" on their "deep" emotional issues that can only come to the fore when they are at their most vulnerable. But enough about crying - what about Bubba?

Bubba is the quintessential 21st-century un-masculine man. Like Ty Burrell's character, Phil, on "Modern Family," he is a "goof" -- he is not afraid of pink, and he's not afraid to hug his caddy. Bubba doesn't care for the prestige. He almost cried when he learned he had to go to the special champions-only locker room and leave his bros down below.

Now, I don't think Bubba should have held back those tears while he embraced his mother. I do think that the attack and defense of his actions speak to the battle between the men of war and the men of warcraft. All of the men who identify with Bubba's stereotypical harmless masculinity feel the need to "man-up" or chirp-in about how it's no big deal for a dude to cry. He was under a lot of stress! He adopted a baby somewhat recently! If these people didn't defend Bubba's emotions, they would have no chance of crying in the bathroom when their girlfriend explains why she would prefer it if he was working full-time and making more than minimum wage plus tips. The men who criticize him for crying are only willing to cry when another man does in a situation that is particularly sombre to men (men dying). They likely use the more outdated tactics for controlling women and have yet to catch on to the smarter emotional weapons.

Soon it will be clear to all -- men are only talking about why they should or should not cry so they can talk more about men. What better platform for the conversation than a star athlete that conveys the rigour of athleticism in a sport that still condones the wearing of knickerbockers.

Russ Beck Writing Teacher, Utah State University

I grew up knowing that real men castrated sheep, lifted hay bales above their heads, killed deer on dead runs and cried in public. Not just cried, not snivels, not single tears rolling down cheeks, but full-on, red-faced, snot-covered bawling.

Once a month in the Mormon church, members are invited to testify of the things they believe. This usually results in tears--tears from toddlers, mothers and men.

Remember, Mormonism is a religion that leans heavily on patriarchal order. Women aren't allowed to hold the highest positions in the church (or even the second, third or fourth highest positions). And yet, many men still monthly do something that is viewed by most as being unmanly, even womanly. Because I was raised in the heart of Mormondom (in the geographic center of Utah) it took TV years to teach me that crying wasn't manly. The Duke Boys didn't cry. The Fall Guy didn't cry--but the Vietnam Vet who lived down the road did cry.

We've had two criers in sports lately that have received a fair amount of flack: Bubba Watson winning the green jacket and Vernon Davis catching the winning pass to progress the Forty Niners past the Saints in this year's NFL playoffs. I watched the Niner's game with a buddy and when Davis ripped off his helmet and sobbed, we both looked at each other, then looked back to the screen and avoided eye contact. Later we admitted to holding back emotion. Emotion that, for some reason, we were ashamed to have. I talked with another friend who has worked as a butcher, played hockey, and has substantial facial hair about the catch. He said it was beautiful. He watched it over and over again. Then he wrote a poem about it. A poem might be the most appropriate response to this kind of emotion. Maybe we are finally letting men be more than just men, but humans too.

I remember crying twice during church: once when someone hurt my feelings (I ran to the parking lot and hid) and once when I was leaving on my two-year Mormon mission. I hoped that I was crying because of belief, because I had a burning desire to teach people about the truth I was raised with. But, thinking on it now, it probably had more to do with the fact that I was leaving girls, basketball, fishing and everything that was familiar to enter a foreign land to do something I had never done before. I was scared. I cried because I hoped I was going on my mission for the right reasons. I cried because I didn't know what else to do.

Even though I didn't cry often in church, I never thought those that did cry should be ashamed. And I don't think Davis or Watson should be ashamed either. It seems that two camps have cropped up on the Watson/Davis crying issue: those who think the athletes should be praised for showing feeling, and those who poke fun at the athletes for crying. I'm not sure either are right. We should look at these moments for what they are: significant. We should feel grateful that we were able to witness these things with them. When your profession hits extreme highs or lows, you're going to show more emotion than a shrug or a high five. Athletes should be allowed the same, even though they're playing in very public venues. David Foster Wallace wrote about why memoirs written by athletes usually weren't very good. He said because athletes train themselves away from their emotions when it counts, they can't really get back to the emotion when they sit down to write. They step up and sink puts, catch passes, hit balls, then they move on emotionless so they can quickly do it again. Perhaps Davis and Watson will initiate a new kind of athlete.

When I didn't cry in church, I thought I was the one who should be ashamed, not the ones crying. Although I never remember it being explicitly stated, I believed the more someone cried in church the more they believed. And that's all I wanted. I wanted to believe what my ancestors believed. I wanted to know what made my great-grandmothers walk across a continent, what made my great-grandfathers sell successful business and farms and move to a desert. I wanted to shake in those uncontrollable sobs, to have my speech awkwardly punctuated by gasps, but it never came.



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Men should not cry in public.


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