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Why it is okay for men to cry publicly

 Why it is okay for men to cry publicly (Photo: iStock)

A viral video of a man openly expressing his heartbreak after being left by his girlfriend sparked mixed reactions, highlighting the debate about the societal expectations surrounding men and their emotions.

While some might find public displays of male grief uncomfortable or even "weak," the narrative surrounding this incident and countless others reveal a deeper issue: the harmful stigma attached to men crying, both privately and publicly.

The man's actions raise crucial questions: Should men cry at all? Is it okay for them to express their emotions openly, especially in public spaces and social media? The answer lies in understanding the fundamental flaws in the underlying premise itself.

Crying is not inherently feminine or weak; it's a natural human response to difficult emotions, regardless of gender. Bottling up emotions and adhering to the societal script of stoicism can have detrimental consequences for men’s mental and emotional well-being.

Opponents of male emotional expression often cite cultural norms and traditional masculinity as justifications for their stance. They argue that men should ‘appear’ strong, unemotional pillars of society, incapable of vulnerability.

However, this narrow definition of masculinity is not only outdated but also harmful. It reinforces a false sense of invincibility, making men less likely to seek help when they're struggling emotionally. That, consequently, leads to increased rates of depression, anxiety and worse, suicide.

Supporters of normalized male emotional expression highlight the numerous benefits of allowing men to freely express their emotions. Crying can be a cathartic release; allowing one to process and release negative emotions effectively. It can also foster stronger connections with others, as it demonstrates vulnerability and trust.

Crying isn't just a sign of sadness; it's a complex physiological process with numerous benefits. Studies done by the National Library for Medicine have shown that tears contain stress hormones and can help release built-up tensions leading to feelings of calm and emotional release. It also suggests that tears have pain-relieving properties. Men who are comfortable expressing their emotions are more likely to experience positive mental health outcomes.

The man's story, while specific to his context, serves as a microcosm of a larger societal issue. His act of public vulnerability sparked an open discussion about the need to redefine masculinity and dismantle the harmful stigma surrounding male tears. It's crucial to remember that judging a man's worth based on his tears is not only insensitive but also reinforces harmful stereotypes. It's essential to create a society where men feel empowered to express their emotions authentically, whether in private or public spaces, without judgment.

Let us create a world where men seeking help and expressing emotions is considered a sign of strength, not weakness. Remember, a tear shed is not a sign of weakness, but a testament to the richness and complexity of the human experience – and that applies to everyone, regardless of gender.

Men need to challenge their own internalized beliefs about masculinity and embrace their full range of emotions. Society as a whole needs to actively dismantle the stigma surrounding male tears through open discussions, media representation that portrays diverse expressions of masculinity and educational initiatives that promote emotional literacy for all genders.

Parents, particularly fathers, play a crucial role in normalizing male emotional expression by modelling healthy ways of dealing with emotions and openly expressing their own feelings.

When we judge men for their tears, we inadvertently push them away from support and understanding. Let's choose a different path, one where tears are seen not as a sign of weakness, but as an opportunity for connection and growth. In doing so, we strengthen not just individuals, but the communities we build together.

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