…Or do they?
Let’s start by acknowledging that scientific studies throughout time have concluded women cry more than men. Due to biological differences between the sexes, hormonal factors, in particular, women are more prone to cry. Culturally it is also more common for women to express their feelings. While men, on the other hand, are expected to not show their emotions. But why should this be a concern? Because statistics show that men are more prone to substance addiction than women. Developing addictions is a coping mechanism to avoid dealing with emotional situations. And ultimately because, according to the Irish Times, men are 4 times more likely to take their own lives.
As a starting point, let’s travel back and remind ourselves that besides all of these social factors, human history and evolution should be considered when involving discussions on hypermasculinity and tears. The clues left by our ancestors tell scholars that females had a very distinct dynamic in comparison to males. As exposed in the book ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’, external circumstances made females develop their social skills in order to survive. Cooperation and networks between female members were crucial when raising their children and defending their tribe. Men, however, would fight, hunt, and compete which led them to become more aggressive. This resulted in a lack of social bonds, in comparison to females.
This ancestral heritage still persists as gender stereotypes are ingrained in our patriarchal societies be it in the work/school environment, within our families, or in social media. But what’s the harm? – one might wonder. One of the main problems is that boys who grow up with repressed emotions are more prone to becoming problematic or depressed. This occurs in response to toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is a belief that discourages men from displaying emotion while glorifying “dominant” or aggressive behavior.
There are many factors that lead society to tell men and boys not to cry. Let’s go over some of them:
1 – Gender Stereotypes
From generation to generation men have shown fewer emotions as a result of societal expectations. “Act like a man!”, “Don’t cry like a girl!” and other similar phrases may deem insignificant. However, they do have a high impact on families, politics, and religious structures. An article by Karl K. and Cormack L. states that “men politicians are significantly punished for not acting “manly” enough in masculine policy domains. Men who rely on appeals to compassion on defense policy are penalized, perhaps for failing to live up to standards of traditional masculinity.”
2 – Cultural factors and freedom of expression
It is undeniable that culture & ethnic background, as well as freedom of expression, play a considerable role regarding the repression of emotions. Moreover, political and religious factors also apply, as they directly link to culture. A study by the Cross-Cultural Research states that “people in wealthier countries may cry more because they live in a culture that permits it, while people in poor countries – who presumably might have more to cry about – don’t do so because of cultural norms that frown on emotional expression.” To summarize, the less wealthy and the more politically repressed the country, the harder it will be for men to express emotions.
3 – Family setting
When it comes to family, parents play a decisive role in how emotionally aware their children are. This occurs, from their very first days till the years thereafter. Home education from a young age has the ability to compensate for external circumstances, such as culture and gender norms. An example is encouraging children to share their feelings during their day, whenever they feel frustration or anger. Nonetheless, if families are more conservative, the chances of an individual being open to acknowledging their feelings are very low. This can result in a lack of self-identity, lack of social intelligence, not asking for help, emotional blockages, alcohol or drug addictions.
Crying is not gender relative
Everyone knows that “crying” is a thing, but what is it exactly, and what are its benefits? Crying is a natural reaction of irritation in the eyes or during a peak of emotions and it has many benefits. Among them is pain relief, helping regulate your emotions, and promoting better sleep.
This natural reaction is inherently human and not gender exclusive, and neither are its benefits. No matter what your gender is, everyone will experience emotions. We should not have to feel pressured to pretend that everything is fine, while we are breaking down. So, let’s talk about our emotions and encourage the men we know to express them as well. To make way for a healthier and happier society, let’s make expressing real feelings the new sexy.
Interested in more topics like this? Check out our blog on Why we Still Need Feminism Even in 2021!