Jason Wilson's groundbreaking memoir arose from years of personal introspection about his past and his difficulties with expressing emotions. "Although I've experienced many losses and tragedies in my life," Wilson says, "it was the absence and condemning words of my father that caused the most trauma—forming a deficit mentality and sentencing me to years in emotional incarceration."
He calls the lasting hurt caused by these early experiences "father wounds." He believes that generational trauma is compounded for boys and men because they are granted few outlets for processing it. "The greatest challenge I believe males of all ages are facing today is that they fear being transparent will compromise their manliness," Wilson says. Cry Like a Man recounts Wilson's journey toward healing his wounds and clears a path for other men who want to heal their own wounds and break free from misconstrued masculinity.
Wilson is the founder and CEO of a Detroit-based youth and family advocacy nonprofit organization, the Yunion. He is also the head educator of the nonprofit's Emotional Stabilty Training for males, the Cave of Adullam Transformational Training Academy (CATTA). Through the CATTA, Wilson councils young men, urging them not to allow the course of their lives to be determined by the "limited definition of masculinity" that promotes misogyny and aggression and discourages men from expressing their emotions. Wilson holds mainstream media accountable for perpetuating damaging ideas about masculinity, but he also believes that responsibility falls to men themselves. "As fathers, we must first stop the destructive cycles within ourselves before we try to lead our families and raise healthy children," Wilson says. "Not until I introspectively confronted and conquered the emotions that influenced my own deleterious behavior was I able to break the cycle."
Moving beyond damaging cycles, Wilson says, requires men to face what's causing them. "It's time to start calling toxic masculinity what it really is: evil desires from our hearts that manifest and hurt others." As the stigmas surrounding men's emotional expression begin to lift, Wilson says, men will be able to strengthen their capacities to process their feelings in ways that are productive, safe, nontoxic, and healing.
Wilson's faith in God has allowed him to persevere through trauma and personal struggle; he believes others can find strength and empowerment there, too. Ultimately, he hopes that the men he inspires both in person and through Cry Like a Man will come "to never be defined by masculinity but to embrace their humanity." Wilson says, "A comprehensive man is courageous but also compassionate, strong but sensitive, and lives fearlessly from his heart and not his hurt."