Man-Up and admit that real men cry

Published: November 7, 2016

Man-Up – a term synonymous to ‘cutting down on the whining’ or ‘keeping quiet when getting hurt’ or ‘not crying in the face of adversity’. How often is it that we hear this term by people in our lives, telling a child to ‘man up’ when he gets hurt and complains about it in the school playground, or telling a kid to ‘man up’ when he cries after finding out that his younger brother had eaten his last remaining chocolate bar, or telling a tearful football player to ‘man up’ when his team loses a game?

“Boys don’t cry!” is often heard by boys from the day they start understanding basic human lingo. It has long been thought that crying, or showing emotions in times of grief and sorrow, is a sign of weakness, and against the society’s idea of masculinity. These traits are normally, yet wrongly, associated exclusively with the female gender. Females have long been portrayed as the weaker gender, which gives them the freedom to openly express grief, whereas males have long been taught to suppress their emotions, especially when these emotions are driven by sorrow.

Let’s just get one thing straight here – every human being cries. It is a normal, biological process and it happens as an uncontrolled response. It is the first thing every human does right after birth. If anything, a crying baby represents a healthy, breathing piece of human life. So why is it that something that represents something as valuable as life itself, somehow represents ‘weakness’ in a man?

Stereotypes of the gender are developed and then reinforced by our daily dosage of media, mainly the social aspect of it, and by our social interactions, where our cultural norms supersede, and often cloud, our own logical judgments. It is for this matter that the supposed differences between the male and female genders are either over-generalised or are over-exaggerated, which explains how we are subconsciously likelier to focus on evidence that supports and solidifies our own gender stereotypes. Such societal pressure forces men to suppress their feelings – despite feeling strongly emotional towards certain situations, especially the ones where grief is involved.

So, what should men do exactly? The answer is simple – express themselves openly. Embrace their feelings and cry when they want to. Sometimes they might be too embarrassed to cry, but they should be comfortable with themselves and, for once, not worry about others’ opinions and perceptions about their self-expression.

If anything, crying is highly beneficial for the human body. When a man suppresses his natural instinct to cry, emotions that would have otherwise been expressed through tears are bottled up inside, allowing for adverse effects on the body as opposed to the body’s response if those feelings had found a corporal outlet. The accumulation of these ‘bottled’ emotions can lead to serious health issues later in life – including high blood pressure and suffering from severe anxiety.

So, gentlemen, cry. Let go of your anger sometimes. Release your stress. Feel empty. Cry openly if you want to. Cry by yourself if need be. But don’t ever let anyone tell you to ‘man up’ and not cry, for real men don’t hide their emotions. Real men cry.

Ahsan Mirza

Ahsan Mirza

The author is an electrical engineer by day, and a wordsmith thereafter.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.