Science posits that crying is natural, culture insists that strong men don’t cry. Daphne Uduneje writes on what could make a man cry
Many parents raised their sons to cry privately, if at all. It is ingrained in many men that masculine identity means holding back the tears except during times of extreme grief; this is an accepted norm in most cultures today.
But prior to this time many cultures believed that tears were a sign of manliness. World history and literature are filled with male leaders who cried publicly. Tears meant that a man lived by a code of values and cared enough to show emotion when things went wrong. Medieval warriors and Japanese samurai cried during times of epic tragedy.
In Western culture, a man’s capacity to cry indicated his honesty and integrity. Abraham Lincoln used strategic tears during his speeches, and modern presidents have followed suit. Despite all these, until recently, men shedding tears have been viewed as less than masculine.
However science disagrees with this cultural phenomenon, health research has found many benefits to crying. According to medical experts when people suppress the urge to cry, emotions that would have been expressed through tears are bottled up instead. Over time, repressed emotions can trigger physiological changes that manifest in clinical symptoms such as high blood pressure. More men die from heart disease than anything else.
According to them crying is a response to the accumulation of chemicals in emotional stress and tears help eliminate these chemicals. Body’s response to anything that triggers tears may be associated with the body’s ability to switch to a method of survival.
“If levels of testosterone in the body are low, people are more likely to cry. This is why women cry more than men, because testosterone is lower in women than in men.
“Frequent crying can indeed be one of the symptoms why men experience a decrease in testosterone levels, including lack of motivation, lack of self-confidence and feelings of sadness “or depression. However, low testosterone or hypogonadism may occur with or without symptoms. The common symptoms are changes in sexual function, such as reduced desire and erectile.
“Besides that, changes in sleep patterns, insomnia, hair loss, reduced muscle and increased body fat may also occur in men who experience decreased testosterone. Therefore; often crying for men is a sign of low testosterone levels,” experts claim.
Responding to the question on what could make men cry a physiotherapist Dr. Suru Onyia of Crystal shore hospital Ikeja told Friday Magazine, “Men cry about the same things women cry about, though many of them are more private about it than women are. So they will cry when someone they care about dies, when they are frightened or sad, when they are overwhelmed, or when they feel guilty.
“As for those men who pretend not to cry, I think they do that because they want to prove tough and manly. You know within the Nigerian concept a man primarily is concerned with how to protect his wife and children in the face of any danger this is why a man often play mister macho. But in real life most men are children inside, they don’t have the nerve to remain tough for a long, time, it’s the women who are really tough you see them going through all sorts of situation believing they will overcome but the men chicken out too soon.”
A banker who simply gave her names as Titi said, “Of course men cry. I believe it depends on the man and what things affect their feelings. Some men have a higher tolerance with sadness and do not express their feelings in the form of tears. Others can cry all the time.”
Another respondent , Comfort Kelechi, a professional photographer, said “I can’t really answer exactly why men cry. It depends on what and when something makes that person sad or upset. Boys are taught not to cry when they grow up. So, it is rare to find a man that is at ease crying. Even as an adult, there is the possibility that a girl/woman will make fun of him for being “a baby.”
But for Mrs Adeoti, a house wife, “Yes, men cry and believe it or not, it’s the manliest men who cry openly, while those who are not as manly try to ‘hide’ their tears. My husband has cried the first time I was confirmed pregnant, after five years of barrenness. The pressure from his family was so much, he was afraid I may decide to leave, but the pregnancy assured him of our being together forever,” Mrs Adeoti said.
For Mr Shina Rasheed, a public analyst what makes men cry is linked closely to the belief system their parents and society have knocked into their sub consciousness ‘ A man has been taught from childhood that boys shouldn’t cry. This often leads to the suppression of other emotions — even happy ones, such as love, so, often he only displays the feeling he might think are most acceptable , such as anger and sexual arousal.
“Truth however remains that men also cry, and a real man who dares to cry in the public is a man who is not in touch with his feelings, he will always put others first. This to me is maturity. Now back to your question of what makes a man cry I’ll say there are thousand and one things that could make a man cry, there is the good, the bad, the ugly. Somehow a man must let off emotions in such moments of reality, but it may not be in the public,” Ade said.