Earlier this week, it was just about a usual day at one of our learning centres situated in the old city areas of Bangalore. The local bakery shop overlooking at the corner of the busy street, a school with its glass pane shinning across the road as sunrays get reflected during the mid-day and the bells in church, situated adjacent to the school, swinging in the air. Along with other thoughts running through my mind there is the to-do list – conduct English assessments, monitor the ERP, etc too as I walk into the centre.
Our learning centres run an affordable after-school program focused on blended learning approach. The students and trainers begin to arrive as sun sets for the day. The kids are always full of energy, enthusiasm and excited to get their hands on the learning tab. Unfortunately I had to cancel the learning on the tab or the tech-session today due to English assessments that had to be conducted, yet, that did not let their spirit down. The class started and the trainers successfully completed the English assessments within the scheduled time. With last half an hour to go before we call it a day, the electricity board seems to be more proactive and calls it a day before us and there is power-cut, no electricity. This means no internet for me and no lights for the students. We turn on the emergency light lamp and make the students to sit in a semi-circle around the lamp.
The students continued working on their homework just then a boy in stripped shirt exclaimed, as if complaining, “Ma’am this boy, pointing to the one on the left, is kissing me”
While I paused for a while to come up with a response I simply said,” that is because he is expressing his love for you”. Tell me about expressing emotions, I fail terribly at this. But this boy does it much better than I would express myself.
When I reflect upon this now, I wish I had explained it better.
How does child perceive love? How do they express their emotions and feelings? Are these things taught or is it a reflex action?
When we are born we do not have the required skills to communicate like speaking, reading or understanding, this develops over time. Yet, when we come into this world we surely know the feeling of love. So when we grow up why does this get generalized and stereotyped. Can’t two boys who are friends express their love for each other? Why is it seen as a matter of shame for boys to express their emotion?
The Vogue ad titled “Boy’s don’t cry” released last year which starts off on the right track but seem to end it on a completely different track saying, “From the beginning, we teach boys not to cry. Perhaps it time we taught them not to make others cry”.
While the ad talks about domestic violence, it missed out an important point on expressing emotions when it comes to men. I am more concerned with letting individual express his or her emotions. ‘Boys do not cry’ or ‘boys do not have emotions’ are few of the stereotype thinking that still is prevalent in our society today.
Children learn what they see and hear. The projection of the behavior of elders, movies, cartoons well impact on how they perceive the world around them. In most parts across India the definition of ‘real’ men is one who is strong, well built with little or no emotions to express. Is this an inherent quality we assume men are born with – not to express their emotions? Why is it difficult for the men to express normal human emotions like love, pain and vulnerability? Why did that young kid complain when the other kid expressed his love for him?
The social conditioning that exists today needs to change. Expressing your love and pain does not make you come across as a weak person or less of a man. It is a form of expression. Empathy is not a feminine thing nor is expressing your love for friendship.
Let’s spread some love!