Gloria Steinem Interview Shows Lena Dunham That Crying Is Powerful & We Can All Learn From That Lesson
Whenever I hear the word "crying," my mind automatically goes to that scene in A League of Their Own where Tom Hanks' character Jimmy Dugan says, "There's no crying in baseball!" Well, what if there was? Would it make the sport less serious? Would it have made the women baseball players any less capable of playing the game just because they expressed their emotions? Absolutely not. Thankfully, Lena Dunham interviewed Gloria Steinem, aka a feminist icon and civil rights activist, for her newsletter Lenny and Steinem showed the Girls actress why crying is powerful, not weak.
The two made conversation about crying after Dunham asked the 81 year-old feminist icon about the last time she cried. Their chat then turned into a discussion about sobbing and whether or not it's OK to cry in front of other people, especially men, while on the job. Per Steinem, it totally is. Both Steinem and Dunham say find themselves susceptible to crying when they get angry, but the Lenny Letter co-creator said she finds it "really embarrassing," to which Steinem replied with something every woman should read:
We try to stay in control too long and then burst out. Instead of saying what we’re angry about in a reasonable way, suddenly we just explode. A woman who was an executive told me once that she got angry in work situations where she needed to get angry, cried, and just kept talking through it. She had mostly men working for her, so it wasn’t so easy to be understood. And she would just say to them, “I am crying because I’m angry. You may think I’m sad. I am not sad. This is the way I get angry.” And I’ve always wanted to do that. It’s still my goal.
Unfortunately, when a woman cries she is often labeled as weak and emotional. But that's categorically unfair. Emotions, especially tears, are just a form of expression and what's so wrong with expressing yourself? That doesn't make you any less of a person. It doesn't make you any less capable of doing your job. Plus, spoiler: Men cry, too, and when they do, they're susceptible to the perception that they are weak and way too sensitive, which is ridiculous. People were born with emotions for a reason, so why not use them and embrace them as the powerful force that they are?
Dunham opened to Steinem about why she feels embarrassed when she cries at work, and it's something I thnk most women can relate to: "There’s one guy I work with who I have a complicated relationship with," she said. "We’re friends, but sometimes he makes me really, really mad. I always burst into tears, and I get this terrible feeling that my crying means that he’s triumphed and I’m wrong or I’m embarrassed."
And that's about the time when Steinem gave Dunham — and by proxy, all of us — some amazing advice. She said, "Why don’t you do what I can’t do? To say: 'This is how I get angry. I am crying because I’m angry. Because I am crying, I will live longer than you.'"
And thank goodness Steinem said what she did. Women should never be made to feel that being emotional is a bad thing. If you want to cry, then cry. If you want to yell, then yell. So, next time you're trying to hold back tears, remember Steinem's advice and let them flow. I don't know about you, but being vulnerable and expressing yourself shows even more strength than trying to be a robot and strong all the time. Let it out, girl.