Ever came across a man who shares everything going on in his mind? Not usually! But the opposite is true for women who don't mind speaking their hearts out.
This is rather a generalized concept because we can also find some women who are not comfortable communicating about something. But we label men as shy, rude, or cold if they don't communicate well. It is basically because of the gender stereotypes in our society that tend to distinguish attributes as masculine and feminine.
Though, it is true that men have been taught to be strong, not to cry and so many different things but not every man hides his feelings. Some men do speak up but again, society has generalized that men are like this. This generalization comes from the already existing requirements of patriarchy like men must dress like 'men', should be strong and most importantly that they should express their feelings in sex, work, sports, and violence. The point of expressing feelings related to the mind is something that is never talked about.
If we see a woman crying, we immediately become sympathetic towards them, in fact, one might even become uncomfortable. On the other hand, if we see a man crying it creates a sense of fear. Why does this difference persist? It is because of the traditional attributes where men are shown to be strong. In case a man cries, it signifies that he has lost control and one might get scared of seeing him.
In reality, we are never taught how to react after seeing a man crying. We are never told to sympathize with him, instead, we tend to feel scared or disgusted seeing him cry. Women never expect a man to cry. This may lead to the hiding of emotions by him. Men are not prepared to show their feelings while women are not prepared to see it.
How many of us have actually seen our dads crying? Hardly anyone! In fact, our fathers usually show just shades of anger and nothing else.
Women often complain that their male partners don't talk to them regarding their feelings. Phrases like 'He never talks!', 'He'll refuse to talk. He always does this!' are quite common. The actual reason behind this is that men respond differently to emotions than women. While a woman may pour her heart out, men feel difficulty in telling what they feel.
How Male Health Is a Contributing Factor?
Another striking reason is that emotional arousal is extremely bad for male health. Yes, that's true! Men are quite vulnerable and are more prone to die than women. If a man becomes really emotional, there are high chances of him having a heart attack and high blood pressure. Hence, they try to avoid such situations.
Research showed that men are really quick to try switching off a recording of a crying baby than women. At first, it was reasoned to be because of male insensitivity but the ultimate result shocked the researchers. It was found that men have higher stress hormones in their blood than women and when the sound of a crying baby was played it led to emotional triggers. In simple terms, men are really sensitive to emotions and tend to avoid them. This is also the reason why old men are more likely to die soon after their partner dies, while the same is not true for old women who can survive long after their husbands die. Men are wired in such a way that during phases of high emotion, they do action, while women talk during that time.
Different studies suggest that men can't really open up what they feel as they think that they might be judged. A firm named Ipsos MORI conducted a survey, in which around 4000 men from the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia were surveyed about their views on masculinity and expression of feelings and emotions.
The study found that most of the respondents know that it's really important to express emotions but they feel that they would be judged for doing so. 77% of them said that talking is an effective solution to tackle problems and 76% actually know how much good talking is good for their mental health. About 58% feel that they are expected to act as an emotionally strong man without showing any weakness. 38% of them don't feel comfortable talking to others about what they are feeling to appear as masculine. Almost half (53%) of Americans aged between 18 and 34 have felt the pressure to act as strong and manly and 22% have faced humiliation and mockery for not being manly. 21% of men don't find someone with whom they can share something about as they don't like sharing their problems.
Filmmaker Mollie Mills, speaks up about this issue in her film Men Don't Cry.
She feels that mental health is something that is not talked about, especially by men. The film explores issues like suicide by young men in the UK due to the increasing expectations to become a 'man'. The film shows the experience of men who were unable to communicate and as a result, suffered ultimately.
You may also want to read: Body Positivity for Men; Let's Talk About It!
Why Should We Help Men Speak Up?
Society in general does not support the expression of feelings by men. Psychologists say that from a young age if children suppress their feelings are more prone to health issues, stress problems, and serious physical violence after attaining the age of majority.
The real problem occurs because parents force boys not to show their emotions.
So What are the Reasons Behind This So-called Masculine Attribute?
Let's figure out!
Normative male alexithymia- oops, didn't understand? It's the masculine stigma attached to them
Inability to express what's going on in their minds, they are literally clueless
Usually attributes like anger, aggression, violence, etc. are signs of being masculine while sadness, hurt, emotional are considered to be feminine
Their families teach them not to cry when they are sad or hurt. They are taught to get rid of their feelings
Desire to be called masculine and not feminine
They are more open to the female partners and not even their closest male friends. Many men feel that male friends are just for activities like sports and fun, but if anything emotional needs to be discussed, female friends come to the rescue. It's because men hardly talk!
Men are expected to be strong by society. Society sees the expression of emotions as weak
What Are the Disadvantages of Such Nature?
Men will have difficulty in connecting emotionally and deeply with people
Different studies suggest that it would lead to numerous misunderstandings in relationships
Higher chances of getting in fights and violence because of not letting out emotions
Emotional suppression on minds
It can be seen clearly that talking about what one feels is extremely important for one's mental health, whether you are a man or a woman. It is because it lets one release stress and lives a healthy life.
On the other hand, if a person bottles up his emotions, it leads to an increase in stress and can cause various health issues, illness, low immunity, and low productivity.
How Can We Help them Overcome?
The issue occurs because of how men are raised in a patriarchal society. The standards are set so high that it's more of a toxic issue.
The most simple yet effective solution is to talk. We should encourage men to speak up and express their emotions, tell them that it's okay to feel something and cry. They should be told to embrace their emotions instead of fighting them.
Stop judging men when they seem emotional or wish to cry
Female friends can help to a great extent by making men comfortable because they won't judge
Listen to problems of friends whether it is a boy or a girl and don't call them girly, cry baby or emotional
Guys should themselves feel confident about who they are and what they feel without caring about the labels being given to them
How Men Can themselves Handle/ Express their Emotions?
Talk, talk, and talk. Find a person with whom you are comfortable to talk about. Don't hide your feelings, just express them.
Never try to avoid your feelings. Accept them and express them. That would help you.
Write about what you feel. Some men have the habit of maintaining a diary in which feelings or any random topic can be written. It's a simple and effective way to pour feelings out.
Get good sleep, eat healthily, and exercise because a healthy lifestyle can work wonders.
In case none of the techniques help, then consulting a counselor is also a good way to tackle this issue.
Don't be afraid of what society would say. Be confident and reach out to a counselor.
Edited by Annanya Chaturvedi