Real Men Don’t Cry

Well, the long and the short of this title should be adjusted accordingly: “That’s a lie!” Grown men do cry. Even “real grown men” cry, but most would just rather you not see that happen, or not do it out in public among relative strangers.

Because of our upbringing most men fight real hard to hold back tears even when it may be appropriate to let them flow. The loss of a loved one, close friend, or even an associate can bring us to tears. Even attending the funeral of those that are not necessarily that close to us can make us cry when we feel the sorrow of others in their mourning.

In the dark of a movie theatre you will find many grown men shedding tears shielded by the darkness of the room. Why, heck, the older I get the more vulnerable I seem to be and freer to shed a tear or two.

At this stage of life I no longer feel ashamed about shedding tears. It makes me feel more human. Holding back legitimate tears makes me feel less human.  ‘Fessing up to tears welling up is another subject. Our foolish male pride still tells us that real men don’t cry. For some reason it continues to look strange to see a grown man cry in public. That’s not the case for females or children.

On several occasions the newly elected Speaker of the House, John Boehner, has cried in public. He cried at his acceptance speech for winning the election and cried again in an interview with Leslie Stahl of CBS 60-Minutes news show while talking about him crying on election night. Apparently this new Speaker will also be known as the “Weeper” of the House. I know men do cry, but at one point it appears to go a bit overboard. From the public comments so far not everyone seems to be holding it against him.

Crying has ended several political aspirations, as was the case of Ed Muskie attempting to defend his wife back in 1972. This incident was attributed as the cause of his losing the election.  Over the past decade men have been detected while crying in public, including all the past presidents since Reagan up to and including our current President, Barack Obama, crying over the loss of his grandmother. Apparently “real men” can cry in public, but it is usually for a very good and specific reason where the public can sympathize with them.

Human beings cry as a response to an emotional state. There is an actual connection between the tear duct (lachrymal gland) and those areas of the human brain involved with processing emotions: that is a normal function of the human body. Both males and females come equipped with this function.

Perhaps females reveal more emotions than males on average. It is socially acceptable for women and children to cry in public, but less acceptable for men to show their emotions outwardly. For most men it’s a matter of “mind over emotions,” similarly to the concept of “mind over matter.” The urge is there, but the mind tells them not to let it show.

Where does the pressure come from that compel most males not to cry in public? Unfortunately pride seems to be the main culprit. Pride is a high sense of one’s personal status, ego, or importance. It may be an inordinate opinion of one’s merit or dignity. It is mostly our personal opinion of the self, not necessarily something that is based upon facts or supported by physicality. It exists mostly in the mind of the beholder.

If males think crying makes them appear to be less of a man they would rather not do things that make them appear to be a “weakling.” In this case they are more concerned about how others view them rather than something they might do to them physically. This is caused by our over-inflated pride.

The bottom line is that men do cry. It is part of our human function. The fact that it is less acceptable for men to cry in public is a perception that we must deal with as well. People will do really foolish things in order to keep certain secrets they do not want publicly exposed, even including suicide.

As far as the new Speaker of the House is concerned, if he cries because he didn’t get the particular vote that he expected I would worry about him, but when his emotions get the better of him while expressing emotional things, that is something we might have to get used to seeing in public. After all, he is human like the rest of us.

One Response to “Real Men Don’t Cry”

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