In 2017, you’d think we would be used to men openly crying. Sadly, this is still not the case. In his farewell speech to the United States of America, Barack Obama shed a tear and subsequently hit headlines across the world.
‘Most powerful man in the world cries in public’ was the general consensus and although a few were positive about a male world leader openly displaying emotion, most articles appeared to sneer at the former President.
A similar thing happened when Vice President Joe Biden was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But why exactly do we still see men crying as a sign of weakness? Unlike the female members of my family, I have only seen my dad cry once. This isn’t unusual. On sad occasions such as a family funeral, most men don’t seem to shed a single tear.
This lack of crying is leading to some serious consequences, according to certain studies. Men have a much higher rate of suicide than women with males accounting for 76% of all suicides in 2014. In fact, it’s the biggest killer of men under the age of 45.
Although many mental health charities have set up campaigns to rid the stigma surrounding crying, the traditional vision of the alpha male still stands. The charity, Mind, found that four in five men between the ages of 18 and 34 put on a brave face when they feel anxious. And with anxiety being one of the most prevalent mental health issues today, several experts believe that a good cry is something that can relieve any bad thoughts.
The same study also reported that one in five men felt that openly showing their emotions was a definite sign of weakness. In childhood, however, boys are far more emotive than girls, proving that society practically removes this trait with its ‘tough guy’ portrayal of masculinity.
Of course, the idea that men should turn any anxiety or fear into anger is outdated for the modern man shouldn’t be afraid to open up. We, as women, wouldn’t accept being pushed into one small category so why should men?
Fortunately, research has proven that crying has many benefits. Tears release stressful chemicals, leaving us feeling better after a bad experience. “There still remains an unconscious bias – among both men and women – that men should be the stronger sex and that crying is a sign of weakness, which isn’t the case at all,” psychologist Stephanie Davies told The Telegraph. “Men who talk about their emotions and are not afraid to show them are more resilient than men who keep them bottled up.”
It takes courage to cry in front of others. The fear that you will be made fun of lurks in all of us, not just men. If we rid the world of the view that real men don’t cry, we are sending a positive message to all those young boys who listen and learn from their fathers and the male role models around them.
Real men do cry – whether it’s blubbering at the end of Titanic or shedding a tear at a heartfelt speech. And with the onset of powerful figures crying live on camera, more and more men are opening up. New research suggests that modern men are twice as likely to cry in public as their fathers.
Maybe that toxic masculinity is on its way out once and for all.