What’s Stopping Us From Normalising Men And Crying?

What’s Stopping Us From Normalising Men And Crying?

If a man shows off his emotions in public, he’s deemed as a ‘girl’ by his closest boy gang, family and society. A man is truly a man only when he decides to not show his off emotions, to anyone. Crying makes you weak – this is exactly what we tell our kids when they cry for things that happen at school, as kids. Even girls make fun of guys who cry in front of them, ‘That guy is so emo, I can’t handle it anymore.’ Worst is when boys who cry or show off their emotions are immediately called gay.

Why is it so wrong for men to express their emotions like women do? Does it really mean it makes them weak and less manly? 

Where Does This Notion Come From?

Researchers are satisfied with the premise that, the ‘men don’t cry’ concept took its roots in our stereotyped gender roles. In the sense, women are taught to embrace their emotions and express them how they seem fit; while men are told to bury them and ‘act tough’.

Here’s where the problem lies. Expressing or the act of letting go of emotional intensity usually involves the act of crying. If one fails to cry then the relief process has failed to kick start as well. And when, one does not initiate this process, the individual might experience ‘psychosomatic’ symptoms. These are nothing but – a person will experience physical pains that occur around the body; such as migraines, back aches, and other pains might pop up because of unresolved emotional pain.

Crying is like questioning a man’s masculinity. Often they are called out for such behaviours that doesn’t necessarily match the society’s definition of manhood. Asking for help, showing caring and compassionate behaviour towards others and as well as themselves or being expressive; all these qualities are undermined by society. This societal attitude puts very littles focus on empathy and encourages the stupid idea of the alpha male.

Toxic Masculinity leads to depression:

This concept of men not showing off his emotions, except anger, is called nothing but toxic masculinity. And trust me, it affects men more than we know.

Imagine, as a young boy you are crying over a painful injury or an emotional heartbreak which feels like the end of the world. And are asked to ‘man up’, instead of just being asked gently and softly what’s the reason you’re sad. How you feel about this pain and what you think can be done about this pain.

When gender-stereotyped thinking is heard strongly and feelings are sort of brushed under the carpet, a young person quickly makes a habit of avoiding feelings. They learn to never express emotions and start to bottle up sadness. However, over the course of time such behaviour could lead to an emotional dysfunction and eventually depression.

Men choose to self medicate: 

Since men are often brought up in a environment that promotes traditional masculinity, they tend to complicate what they feel; towards their own emotions. They usually try, and succeed, to shut them off or completely avoid them. This is one of the main reasons why we see men using external methods to cope with their emotions.

They use over-working as an way to deal with their inner turmoil. Men ‘self-medicate’ by using substantial things such as alcohol and drugs, as a way to completely avoid confronting their anxiety or depression.

men and crying/men and crying/What's Stopping Us From Normalising Men And Crying?
Image Courtesy: NZ Drug Foundation

Famous medical doctor and physiologist, Sigmund Freud, who is widely called as the father of psychoanalysis; once said that people tend to block such things from their conscious mind which they believe are shameful. In simpler terms, people bury what they are ashamed of. It’s sad that we as a society, for generations, have portrayed that showing off emotions is a shameful act for men.

We also see many men who express their internal turmoil by directing it in the form of anger at those around them; like their children or partners.

However, all these external coping mechanisms have one thing in common. NONE of these actually are a way to help men cope or face what they’re dealing with.

How to put and end to this? 

Firstly change should come in our perception of it. We should stop cringing at men who cry. We should stop making fun of boys who cry over something that hurt them. Let’s stop telling our kids that crying is bad, and crying is for weak people.

When a boy goes to his buddies to talk about his emotions, or just plain cry, don’t brush his feelings off. Ask him what’s wrong, instead of asking him to suck it up. Tell him it’s okay to want to cry, and it does not make him a girl and definitely not gay.

Right from a young age, we should make boys learn to get in touch with their feelings. We should nurture their emotions and ask them to do the same.

As a society we should shatter the concept that alpha male is sexy; that toxic masculinity is hot. Honestly, the name says it all. It’s toxic.

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