Openly showing emotions in a society where ‘real men don’t cry’—or so we’ve been conditioned to believe—can be a crushing blow to manhood. Crying is a human expression, but it is a gendered one.
For instance, it is socially acceptable for women to showcase emotion by crying, but men are often shamed for doing so. The uncomfortable reactions, as if something very unnatural occurred, and the silent but apparent judgement when men express their true feelings, compromise their masculinity.
Anymore than a tear or two––in somber circumstances—is socially unacceptable. Outside of grief, men receive an explicit message about crying: man up and stop it.
But if we are to create whole communities, we must reframe how we feel about men expressing emotions through tears. We cannot deny men the blessing of crying yet decry toxic masculinity. We cannot complain that men are unable to show emotion or be emotionally supportive if we condition them from childhood to withhold emotion or showcase only certain types of emotion.
If we continue to teach our male children that crying is emasculating, we will continue raising men who are unable to appropriately express themselves, and uncomfortable with displaying anything other than anger.