Men don't cry. Or, at least, that's what they say.
In the early hours of Saturday, ISRO's most complicated and ambitious mission till date, Chandrayaan-2, failed to go according to plan, much to the dismay and disappointment of the entire country. In the very last lap, the Vikram Lander lost contact with the forces on the ground, just 2.1 kms from the lunar surface.
Later during the day, we got a glimpse of the ISRO chief, K Sivan, shaking hands with Prime Minister Modi, as the latter departed the ISRO headquarters. In a video that has now gone viral, PM Modi can be seen hugging and consoling Sivan who had broken down into tears. Netizens had been sharing the video saying that this was PM Modi's most genuine hug ever.
However, the video of Sivan crying has sparked another debate. While it broke the hearts of some watching the ISRO chief crying like that, some criticised this display of emotion and said that he should have maintained professional decorum.
I know. A person who can't control his/her emotions and cries at the time of crisis can't be fit to lead a team; more so for someone who is heading ISRO, India's premier space agency. — Gaurav Pandhi गौरव पांधी (@GauravPandhi) September 7, 2019
I was expecting better temperament from the @ISRO chairman. Failures happen and are stepping stones for the success ahead. ISRO's achievements and efforts are applauded by the entire world. A man of his stature crying like a baby because of shortfalls looks idiotic to me. pic.twitter.com/hLIlzBmlAP — Gaurav Pandhi गौरव पांधी (@GauravPandhi) September 7, 2019
Crying at work place is unprofessional and shows one as emotionally unstable under challenging times. — Abshar| (@Scepticindian) September 7, 2019
Now, this aligns with the age-old notion that men shouldn't express their emotions and shouldn't cry in public because it just isn't masculine. You see, patriarchy hasn't harmed just one half of the population. Men, too, have been victims of stringent gender roles ascribed to men and women by a patriarchal society. According to these rules, a man has to act and behave in a manner that most suits his gender. He is expected to be strong (read: rough and tough) and devoid of emotion. Emotion and tears, on the contrary, are to be reserved for the "fairer sex" who are considered to be petite and delicate by nature. What is this societal pressure that dictates men be emotionless at all times?
Unfortunately, emotion doesn't really have anything to do with biological sex. Why is Sivan breaking down after Chandrayaan-2's failure so astonishing or even something to debate about? Isn't his disappointment and broken heart just a very normal reaction to the event? After all, he did shed blood, sweat and tears for this mission and it would have been the highlight of his career as a scientist had the mission gone according to the plan.
And speaking of professional decorum, can you honestly claim that you have never broken down at work? That you've never felt so flustered and frustrated that you've just wanted to scream at the top of your voice?
And in the end, probably ran to the washroom to shed a few tears. Imagine grinding for days and hours on a project, only for it to fail at the very last minute. Keeping in mind how intense and stressful it must have been at the ISRO headquarters, it is totally normal for Sivan to express his emotions in front of his peers and colleagues. The thing is, a show of emotions seems to be for the weak. It's not.
It's absolutely normal for grown up men to cry. Stature, not withstanding. https://t.co/guUP7gxnbt — Nakuul Mehta (@NakuulMehta) September 7, 2019
What is this kind of societal pressure on men, built BY men, to appear emotionless in all situations?! I can understand political differences but stop using scientists to demonstrate your ignorance. We are super proud of them. We also embrace men who cry.#ISRO #Sivan 🚀🇮🇳 — Akancha Srivastava (@AkanchaS) September 7, 2019
Men, it is OK to CRY. You are human and not machine. "#ISRO chief hugs Modi, breaks down after space agency loses contact with moon lander Vikram". https://t.co/XuKtVwdDaY via @scroll_in — Kumar Manish (@kumarmanish9) September 7, 2019
Crying like a baby because he put his heart in it and Chandrayaan meant everything for him. He knew what it meant for the whole nation and mankind. Before taking a dig at his temperament, get rid off your toxic masculinity. https://t.co/axtkEDrjem — Abhijeet Dipke (@abhijeet_dipke) September 7, 2019
And if I may add, there’s so much socially constructed stigma around men crying is BECAUSE of comments like these :( — Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) September 7, 2019