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The other day I was at the park, watching my 4-year-old niece play with her friends when one of the boys fell down and started crying. The other kids rounded up the crying boy and laughed. I heard one kid exclaiming, “What a girl! Boys don’t cry.” The kids cracked up while I brushed off the incident. Today, however, when I see my male friends, colleagues, and family members suppressing their feelings, hiding tears and shutting off their emotions for the fear of being called “girly” I realize how flawed our cultural upbringing has been.
Why Don’t Men Cry?
Crying is a biological response to any kind of emotional stimulus. Then why is it believed that crying or showing emotions is a strictly feminine concept? Why don’t men cry? Men don’t cry because they grow up hearing things like “Don’t cry like a girl”, “Big boys like you don’t cry” and “Stop crying and be a man!” Boys grow up with this fallacious and toxic belief that expressing their emotions through tears makes them a little less masculine.
Does That Mean Men Don’t Have feelings?
Just because they aren’t crying while watching Coco or sobbing after a break-up doesn’t mean men don’t have feelings. It doesn’t mean something’s wrong with them. But it definitely means that a lot is wrong with the society and the standards that it sets for men. We, as a society, are so obsessed with the idea of the alpha man that we forget crying is perfectly human and it has got nothing to do with gender.
Men Don’t Cry, Okay, But Why Is It A Big Deal?
Suppressing tears disconnects you from your own emotions. This in turn can adversely affect your mental health. When you are not in sync with your emotions, you may find it hard to form close relationships as an adult. Crying also releases stress-relieving hormones that are very crucial for our overall physical and mental wellbeing. When you talk to your loved ones about what’s bothering you, you also encourage attachment and bond with them better.
And What if The World Tells Me I Am Weak?
Crying, by no means, makes you weak. It shows that you are not bothered by others’ opinions about your self-expression. This establishes you as a stronger person. If holding a sneeze for a few seconds makes you uncomfortable, imagine what holding your tears all those years must be doing to your body. Both, crying and sneezing are uncontrolled responses to an outside stimulus. Why the difference then?
So cry. Cry when you are in physical pain. Cry when you lose someone you loved dearly. Cry if something breaks your heart. Cry if someone’s pain hurts you too. Cry if talking about something makes you feel too much. Cry even if your brain (and the society) tells you not to. Cry, grieve, sob and heal. Do whatever it takes to get those emotions out of your heart but at no cost swallow them in.