Darn it all, I went on twitter and saw some tweets by some very "manly" dudes complaining about the "feminization" of modern men. Sigh. The feminization of men? What is that even? If a dude cries, it's feminine? Crying is not a gendered thing. It's a HUMAN emotion. Why work so hard to suppress that? Or to demonize it? Or stigmatize it? Why? Makes no sense.
The thing is, I thought things had changed. I honestly did. I have been dismissing the idea that we -and by we, I mean "s0ciety"- are still telling boys not to cry or discouraging men from openly crying. But, it appears that this idea isn't dead, like it really should be. I hold out hope that even though there are those who push this idea that men shouldn't cry that many are just ignoring that or have gotten beyond it, that maybe those who do believe that are few in number.
The only time that I actually have heard, with my own ears, someone tell a young boy that he shouldn't cry was when I lived in Qatar and a nanny at a park told the boy she was taking care of that boys don't cry. It took me aback. Just hearing that was so strange. I didn't think we told boys that anymore.
And, then, I went to a men's therapy group and the topic came up. And, some of the older gentleman in attendance talked about how they were brought up to think is was bad to cry or express emotion. And it rather shocked me again. I mean, it just sounds so strange. I thought this was a thing of the distant past, or that those who were told it in the distant past have come around on the issue. I mean, why would we do that? Why would people tell other people that that crying is bad?
Here is the deal, people. Crying is normal, natural and healthy! Harvard Health tells us:
Crying is an important safety valve, largely because keeping difficult feelings inside — what psychologists call repressive coping — can be bad for our health. Studies have linked repressive coping with a less resilient immune system, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension, as well as with mental health conditions, including stress, anxiety, and depression. Crying has also been shown to increase attachment behavior, encouraging closeness, empathy, and support from friends and family.
Keeping stuff bottled up inside can lead to a number of health problems. Why do that to yourself? If you have been taught or believe that it is bad for men to cry for some reason, keep this in mind. Imagine having within you the power to help your body resist some nasty elements, and all you have to do for it to work is let it happen naturally...crying.
The thing is, even if we see this attitude of "Men shouldn't cry", we have all seen men cry. It shouldn't be some kind of shock to us when men actually do cry. Now, I am not a big sports fan, but I do watch NASCAR and other racing. I've seen no shortage of drivers get very emotional after a big win or a dramatic event. Tears have flown at Daytona. Indy drivers have shed tears after winning the Indy 500. A first race win is often a joyous and tear filled accomplishment. Men do cry openly. I've seen it. Heck, there are a lot of emotional moments in racing that I've witnessed where I have found tears flowing down my face.
Let's just go a few steps further here and make crying acceptable beyond just emotional moments in sports. For many, it is already, and I'm glad. But, there are some holdouts. Please, if you are thinking of telling someone that it isn't okay to cry or show emotion because it's "feminization" or not the "masculine" thing to do, strongly reconsider, or best yet, just don't. There is NOTHING wrong with crying. There is nothing wrong with showing emotions. Boys and men DO cry.