It’s an old notion that men don’t cry. Yet, some people still think that expressing feelings by men is taboo. If you’re wondering when this old notion started, history may have revelations.
Ancient Men and Feelings
Before we talk about men’s feelings, let’s discuss emotions first.
The University of West Alabama defines emotions. It states that emotions are different from a mood and a feeling. Emotion is the way people deal with significant situations; a feeling is the result of an emotion; a mood is a short-lived feeling that can occur without a trigger.
A mood differs from emotion because emotion has a clear trigger.
Aristotle has a different term for emotions. He calls it pathos. For Aristotle, pathos is the response of an individual to outside forces; he likens it to perception. However, aside from scholarly definitions in the old world, emotions existed among medieval men, too. These medieval men weren’t afraid to express it, because it wasn’t so taboo before.
Historians have discovered that medieval knights were expected to cry on particular occasions. As part of chivalry and extreme devotion, these masculine men were expected to show deep emotions. Even in Biblical times, men were expected to weep in times of grief; it was the manliest thing to do before.
Why are men scared to catch feelings now?
Some suspect that the pressure on men to keep their feelings private started in the 1800s. It was in the 1800s when the Industrial Revolution started. Allegedly, manufacturers and factory owners trained laborers who were mostly men to keep their feelings; this ensures continuous work and high productivity levels.
The media is also suspected to play a big role in propagating the idea that real men don’t cry. These emotionless, stoic, strong cowboys and action figures are reflected in infamous characters like John Wayne and John McClane in “Die Hard”. This is a classic example of life imitating art; with these movies, certain expectations on what a real man should be are built.
As men become more pressured by society to cover up their feelings, more underlying fears develop. Let’s take a look at some of these fears men of today have.
1. Men are afraid to appear weak
Some men fear that when they show emotions, they look weak and incompetent. These men see emotions as a flaw. For these men, they display their strength based on career achievements and by providing for their families.
2. Men find it uncomfortable to show feelings
Most men nowadays find it difficult to show feelings and emotions simply because nobody showed them how to. Most of their role models probably kept their feelings to themselves as well. Thus, showing emotions is simply something they are not used to.
3. Emotions wake up scary truths
Since most men have been trying to cover up their feelings for years, they are afraid that once they start to share, it will cause a tidal storm. When this happens, a man may lose control; this is the scariest thing that can happen to a guy.
4. Men are scared to look feminine
These days, misogynists think that showing emotions and feelings are just for women. Hence, when a man starts to express his feelings, his identity is questioned. This leads us to another issue– homophobia. As men don’t want to be labeled as gay, they keep their feelings in the closet.
It’s okay to not be okay
Based on what we’ve learned above, there are a lot of factors that prevent a man from revealing his true feelings in today’s world. Yet, keeping things to yourself can be detrimental to your health.
The ability to express feelings is something natural to a human. Hence, when you prevent your body from experiencing and expressing these emotions, your body tenses up. It also affects your mental health. Studies reveal that due to suppressing emotions, men have an increased risk of committing suicide than women.
Hence, this toxic masculinity must stop. Allow yourself to feel things, and allow yourself to express them. Real men do what they want, without letting others pressure them from doing things they don’t want to do.
Real men wear their hearts on their sleeves. Famous historical figures like President Eisenhower showed vulnerability on the eve of D-Day. After Civil War ended, even General Ulysses S. Grant cried. Even real men who want to save their relationships are willing to try professional couples’ therapy. According to Wall Street Journal, they are willing to do go through therapy as long as it delivers results.
Hence, if you’re a real man, do not be afraid to catch feelings. It won’t kill you; it will even make you healthier; you’ll be considered a real man who couldn’t care less about what society dictates.