Holding back the flood: Why it’s important for men to show emotion

You’d think it’s easy, crying is normal right? However, in today’s society, this is not true for the vast majority of men; Men just simply are not allowed to cry. Somehow society has decided that men should not show emotions and those who do are seen as less, effeminate or even gay.

Many parents will teach their children that ‘boys’ don’t cry’ or to cry in private if they have to, this is something that sticks in the impressionable minds of our children and follows them into adulthood.

In 2016 President Obama showed his emotional side when he shed a tear in front of the nation when he spoke passionately about gun violence. This public display of emotion was soon questioned by the masses, many started to question Obama’s integrity, the strength of his character and also if it was acceptable for a man of his stature and position to show emotion; As if shedding a tear would diminish his power.

This being said, world history tells a different story. Cultures from all around the world, have, in the past regarded male tears a sign of strength, honesty and that the men who shed these tears cared enough to know when something went wrong. Japanese samurai cried when battles were lost and they buried their dead, between the 5th and 15th Century medieval warriors would show emotion on the battlefield when fighting alongside their friends. western culture deemed a man’s tears to be a sign of great honesty. Even Honest Abe, used strategic tears in his speeches to help win the hearts of his people

The challenge for today’s men is how others perceive them – and through their own judgments and insecurities – displace worries and doubts about how an emotional man is perceived.

However,  health and social research have shown that there are biological changes that occur in a person who continuously holds back their tears and emotions, which ultimately lead to an increased risk of developing mental health disorders. Similarly, the journal of psychology of men and masculinity conducted a study that showed footballers who expressed emotion and cried in front of their teammates after winning a game had increased levels of self-esteem and were less likely to give into peer pressure; this was due to the fact they felt comfortable with themselves enough to say no.

On the other hand, there are times that people, men and women included, should hold back their tears. In times of crisis or an emergency, it is important to stay calm in order to get the job done. Doctors, nurses, and even front soldiers have to keep their calm and hold back their tears and feelings when dealing with situations to get the job done – this doesn’t mean they don’t express them later on though.

As society moves back and forth between the how they perceive men expressing thier emotions it is vital to remember that emotions are not a sign of weakness, but instead can be seen as a sign of strength and honesty.