In our society, gender stereotypes play a role in how men and women express their emotions. Women are often seen as more open and willing to share their feelings, while men are expected to be strong and hide their emotions. This generalization stems from societal expectations rooted in patriarchy, where men are taught to be stoic and not show vulnerability. When a man does express his emotions, it can be met with fear or discomfort because it goes against traditional notions of masculinity.
This difference in how we perceive emotional expression can be seen in our reactions to men and women crying. When a woman cries, we tend to sympathize with her, but when a man cries, it can create a sense of fear or unease. This is because men are often portrayed as strong and in control, and crying is seen as a loss of that control. As a result, men may feel pressured to hide their emotions to conform to societal expectations.
This lack of emotional communication can lead to frustration in relationships, with women often feeling that their male partners don't open up to them. Men may struggle to articulate their feelings as they have been socialized to respond differently to emotions than women. Breaking free from these gender stereotypes and encouraging open emotional expression for both men and women is crucial for healthier communication and relationships.
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 is the the masculine stigma attached to men. Men have tremendous difficulty putting their emotional experience into words.
Struggling to articulate their thoughts and emotions, they often feel at a loss for words and are unable express what's going on in their minds.
Usually attributes like anger, aggression, violence, etc. are signs of being masculine while emotions like sadness, hurt, etc. 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. 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 being weak.
What Are the Disadvantages of This Learned Pattern ?
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 can Men handle and express their Emotions themselves?
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 healthy, 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 counsellor.
How Can Now&Me help?
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