“Tears are seen as a sign of vulnerability - and vulnerability is something that masculinity is threatened by”.
But… why?! Warriors from Ancient Greek times through to Medieval Japanese and Europeans Warriors considered crying as a sign of passion, strength and understanding the world around them. It’s only more recently that some douchebag decided ‘boys don’t cry’. We’re apparently allowed to cry about sports (wins and losses) but not about anything that actually matters.
Did you know there are three types of tears, and humans are the only animals that produce the ‘emotional’ ones? Emotional tears – the tears that are produced in times of extreme pain (or joy) actually contain pain-killers, which is why people often say they feel better after crying – they literally feel better because they’re high on ‘happy hormones’.
Emotional crying causes other physical effects, too: your heart rate increases, you sweat, your breathing slows and you get a lump in your throat – known as the globus sensation. This all occurs because your sympathetic nervous system (your ‘fight or flight’ system) is activated in response to your extreme joy/sadness/distress.
Another interesting fact about crying, and maybe the ‘evolutionary benefit’ is that it changes the way we look: Our eyes get all big and watery, our cheeks and face get all flushed and swollen, and we start looking like, well, a baby, or a puppy. And our instinct is to look after babies and puppies.
So, when we cry, pain-killers kick in and we feel better. And then people around us (whether it’s friends, family or, in cave man times, …some hairy dude loping past your cave) generally want to stop and check in on us.
But apart from all the good sciency reasons for a sob, letting yourself cry means you’re aware of what’s going on around you and acknowledging how it makes you feel, whether it’s anger, sadness, joy or a massive grand-final win. And the stereotype that real men don’t cry? Yeah, tell it to those Medieval warriors. C’mon bro, pump those goddamn tear-ducts!!!