• Created by: abbinger
  • Created on: 05-04-18 18:13


I will be basing my presentation on the statement “boys don’t cry”. I have chosen this particular statement as it intrigued me from the get go. This is because, aside from the obvious generalisation that it creates by making what we English students call a sweeping statement, it also creates division. And it is this aspect that immediately opens up the floor for debate and discussion.

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(MOVE SLIDE) so to begin, I think it would be useful to break down this statement in order to interpret and understand it. Firstly, if we look at the words ‘boys’, the oxford dictionary defines boy as a male child or youth. This definition portrays the statement as being directed at only male children and young teenagers as opposed to adults. Don’t is the informal abbreviation for do not which states that something categorically does not occur. Finally, cry is a human display of emotion. Where we can visibly see peoples inward emotion and their ability to reflect their feelings.

Discuss how crying can represent a range off diff emotions

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And so, after breaking it down it appears that this statement argues that young men and children do not have the ability to cry and display their emotions through tears. The separation here between boys and their binary opposition; girls is interesting as it suggests that the statement does not apply to girls. This concept has formed the basis for my interpretation of this statement which is the idea that there is clearly an issue surrounding gender here where according to the statement although girls cry, boys do not.

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(MOVE SLIDE) This separation between boys and girls is problematic as it is a prime example of the stereotypes and assumptions surrounding gender in both past and present society. Boys and girls equate to masculinity and femininity in the eyes of society, which represent the traditional gender roles that both boys and girls fall victim to.

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(MOVE SLIDE ) Judith Butler highlighted this difference by arguing that ‘gender is socially constructed’, which explains that sex refers to our anatomy and biology, while gender refers to the societal view of boys and girls, men and women and masculinity and femininity. And it this concept of gender that arguably enforces the statement boys don’t cry as it does not coincide with the aspect of traditional gender roles that exist.

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(MOVE SLIDE ) to shed light on these gender roles I thought I would split it into three categories; mental, physical and sexual. So firstly, mental attributes have a substantial part to play in the gender roles which essentially is the difference in portrayed emotion by males and females.

MOVE SLIDE - In a study on gender and emotion in society, Fischer argued that “The ways that boys do become different from their mothers in minimizing emotions are those that are reinforced by the culture as being gender linked”. In other words, boys grow up into a society that encourages them to hide their emotions and to suppress their feelings.

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(MOVE SLIDE) this was actually exemplified in Emily Kahne’s research into gender in childhood, which summarised that from as young as 3 children were being conditioned into their gender roles by family members, institutions and also other children. For example, when boys would hurt themselves at nursery they were offered little comfort and encouraged to brush it off and toughen up, however when girls would hurt themselves they would be comforted and nurtured. Now this is significant as if we are conditioning boys as young as 3 to toughen up and to not portray their emotions, we are surely enforcing gender roles that it’s okay for girls to cry and show emotion, but boys need to act tough.

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(MOVE SLIDE)This Is where the cultural studies comes into play, as boys grow up they experience more of this gender conditioning through the mass media. Films and books reinforce the ‘hero’ role as highlighted in Propp’s character functions where the boy is strong, heroic and brave and the girl is submissive, vulnerable and emotional. This once again is displaying a lack of emotion in boys and the depiction that boys and emotion do not coincide with one another.

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<span> I have inserted a few images from song titles, to films, to newspaper ads, all of which depict the fact that boys supposedly do not show emotion. With such a vast range of examples here it’s safe to say that gender roles and stereotypes are widely re-enforced in the media especially when it comes to masculinity and its link to lack of emotion or feeling.</span>

Remember to say where yo got the images from e.g. love actually !!!!

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(MOVE SLIDE) Now let’s look at the physical attributes linked to gender roles.

<span> (MOVE SLIDE ) Julia Coffey summarised these gender roles by saying the idealised woman’s body is slender while the idealised male body is toned, muscular and most importantly strong. Once again this helps to portray femininity as being weak and submissive and masculinity as being strong and dominant. Room for anyone in-between these categories therefore suffers the consequences. Here are some examples of hyper masculine advertisements that enforce the stereotype that men must be strong and muscular.</span>

E.g sexiest man alive magazine

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(MOVE SLIDE) Finally gender theory can also include the idea of sexuality. Masculinity appears to favour heterosexuality and the idea of a man being dominant with the submissive ‘second sex’ (Greene and Kahn,) or the less favoured sex. The film ‘boys don’t cry’ sheds light on this issue. The premise of this film follows a transgender teenager in the struggles he faces due to his sexuality including death threats, family abandonment and eventually murder. The film is based on the true story of a Transgender person living in America who was murdered as a result of his sexuality. Queer theory argues the need for a more fluid and diverse society where sexuality is not judged upon and limited to individuals. Where instead we give more freedom to individuals to express their sexuality. So the title of this film being boys don’t cry is interesting as it suggests that the statement represents how no matter what boys deal with whether it be issues with their sexuality or identity, they are still taught to be brave and withhold from their emotions because they are a ‘boy’. 

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(MOVE SLIDE) To conclude, I would interpret this statement as being a representation on the limiting views of society, where gender, identity and sexuality are restricted from childhood and onwards. In other words, I believe this statement argues not that boys don’t cry, but that boys cannot cry. As being conditioned into a society that repeatedly reminds them that they have to be strong and masculine, being anything else would expose them to judgement and possibly even rejection from society all together.

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