It was an unusually cool, summer night. The pale, silvery moon hung low beneath a clear, velvet sky studded with brilliant- white pinpricks of light. A gentle, evening breeze toyed with our hair as it wafted around us. Fireflies danced out of our way and into the sanctuary of a nearby rose bush, giving it a strange, unearthly glow. Dew carpeted the grass and glistened like tiny shards of glass in the moonlight. The stillness of the night was broken only by a crickets’ incessant chirping. For me, it was a very romantic night and naturally, I was feeling very, very cheezy.
With tears in my eyes, and with all the sincerity I could muster in my voice, I looked at her and said; “I love you, and I will never stop loving you for the rest of my life.” It felt wonderful to say that. Oh, did that feel go-od! I was beside myself with emotion. I thought to myself; she’s going to kiss me, she’s going to hug me real tight and say that she loves me too and that she’ll never love anyone else but me. Imagine my chagrin when she replied matter-of-factly; “No, Gimmi, No. You will not cry on our wedding day.”And with that, she brushed past me and back into the house.
I went home that night replaying the scene in my mind and thinking; what’s wrong with crying? More specifically, what’s wrong with crying men? In today’s modern world, there seems to be a social stigma whenever men cry. It seems as though the right to cry belongs solely to women. I wondered why this was so. I did a little search on google and found an article by Charles Downey about the science of crying.
It turns out that crying (even for men), was a pretty normal affair during the medieval and rennaissance periods. There were a lot of accounts of men bawling their eyes out during these times. Dr. Tom Lutz, proffesor at the University of Iowa and expert on the history of tears and crying, sites the examples of the knights of the French hero Roland, the Greek hero Odysseus, and St. Francis of Assisi, all of whom cried and wept at some point. However, it was not until the industrial revolution that crying was seen as a sign of weakness. Deligent and industrious workers were seen as superior over emotional ones. And crying was a sign of emotional instability.
But why do we cry? According to Lutz, crying happens at precisely that moment when we are unable to fully verbalize complex, overwhelming emotions and when we are unable to articulate our feelings. It is also seen as an escape, a way for us to turn away from the cause of our anguish and to turn toward what we are feeling at that moment. Crying is also healthy. Recent evidence suggests that crying is a way of coping with stress and reducing the incidence of illness caused by stress.
So what’s wrong with crying? What’s wrong with crying men? Absolutely nothing. Given the reasons on why people do cry and the fact that crying is actually healthy, I think it would be more beneficial to society if it were to redirect its current ‘macho’ attitudes and just let nature take its course.
In other words, let the tears flow.