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Presented by State Library Victoria

Boys Don't Cry

This is the life of a kid. A boy, who goes to an ordinary school, with crap teachers and workbooks filled with pictures where the lines should be. A kid who likes to run around in the yard, and have fun with friends. Who laughs about ridiculous things and has a random love of chocolate milk.

A normal kid.

A boy who likes to play tag at lunch. Who mimics guns out of his fingers and can make all the sounds of the world with just his mouth. Who draws monsters and aliens in the back of his book. Who doesn’t cry when he falls and scrapes a knee. Who often gets into scuffles and has a stupid toilet sense of humour.

A normal eight year-old boy.

Who went home one day and told his parents about how his best friend didn’t cry when he broke his wrist. Who, when his parents asked, said that he was super cool for not crying.

A boy who wet his bed all the way up until grade three but didn’t like to tell anyone because it was ‘too wuss’. Because he’d be teased for it. Who acts tough in front of friends, even though all of them still wet the bed to this day. Even though one of them sometimes sleeps in his mum’s bed at night, and even though one of them is scared to death of most movies.

A boy who likes to paint his nails, and who’s dad likes to tease him about it. A boy who sometimes played R-rated games when he was five, and who loves Halo, even though he wakes up every night screaming with nightmares from them. Who brags to his friends that the best thing about his dad is that he can play Halo Wars when his mum isn’t watching. Who is teased every single time a girl’s name is mentioned in the household. Who cries only when he can’t play video games, and who spends every night on an online forum.

A kid who still plays with his friends, faking war and death because it’s ‘so cool’. Playing with a roomful of boys who have been trained in violence and how to be brave from a young age. Who still go home crying to their parents and who still wet the bed, but act like they’re the entire world around each other.

A roomful of masks really. Masks of bravery, and strength and the concept of ‘masculinity’. It’s funny how it works. The boys of the world, running around with these big, fierce masks on, never seeing below and each of them thinking that they’re the only one with a mask. When really, it’s just a lot of them, pretending over and over, a bunch of masks and not a single bare face.

It might seem like something harmless to begin with. One game, because a friend suggested it. But then it’s another and another, and with each game there’s another less tear to cry. Another less painted nail, and another bullet, another gun. Less, less, less. More, more, more. And then a mask that may never come off.

It makes you wonder why those masks are there, why the boys put them on. What is so compelling as to make them keep them. When they learned to create them, who showed them.

Is it them? Or us? Or you? Or everyone?

People ask a lot: would that happen if that woman were a man? Would they be promoted? Would they be taken more seriously? Have more worth? A better image?

Sometimes I wonder: what would happen if that boy were a girl?

So yeah, this is something I wrote earlier this year, about the concept of gender stereotypes. I just find it really interesting how it affects boys in particular, and how this concept of masculinity is implanted from such a young age, and how guys always seem afraid of being viewed as ‘weak’ or ‘feminine’ or that they might be perceived as gay.

Anyway, let me know what you think and if you agree or not. I know this is quite a controversial topic and that it doesn’t apply to everyone, but this is just what I’ve seen at school and with my brother. Thanks!

– Mai 🙂



It was the case, but less so now. But it still is very prevalent in male culture. But it only takes one person to change a world. I certainly agree that boys use things like, "weak, feminine, girly, gay" and other explicit words. Whenever it happens I try to call it out

28th May, 18

Also I forgot to mention you're a great writer! Keep it up. Can't wait to see more of your work

28th May, 18

Aw thanks! >.< Yeah it's strange to see how harmless words can be used as an insult into male culture, but I'm glad to hear it's improving! (I go to an all girls school so I only really get to see how my brother acts and kids on the bus). And it's good to know some people are helping out. :)

28th May, 18

I go to an all girls school as well so I really only see this with my brother. What you have written is basically what runs through my head whenever I see him with his friends. You are a fabulous writer by the way. This was brilliant.

30th May, 18

Thanks, I'm so glad other people can relate! I usually just think these things to myself so it was really nice to put it out in words. And I hardly ever share my writing so all these nice comments have me squealing!

30th May, 18

Wow this is really well written and a really confronting idea. I think people are just realising that sexism goes both ways and you've done a really amazing interpretation of it! Awesome!

4th Jun, 18

Thank youuu! Yeah, I wasn't sure how to write this because I know it can be really controversial but I'm happy people are taking it in the right way!

5th Jun, 18