In a world where some emotions are often seen as signs of weakness, especially in men, movements challenging the social norms dictating how we should express ourselves have emerged. The stigma associated with men showing vulnerability, like crying, remains a highly relevant topic.
That’s why we’ve set out to delve deeper into the relationship between sadness and male emotional expression, challenging stereotypes and fostering a more inclusive and healthier understanding of male mental health.
We’ll begin by analyzing the well-known Blue Monday and its relation to male emotions, to demystifying phrases like “Men don’t cry.” We have conducted a survey and here we show our statistics on how men express and feel, highlighting the need for a shift towards a future where emotions are freely expressed, regardless of gender.
The term “Blue Monday” refers to a specific day in January that is supposedly the saddest day of the year. Despite its questionable origin, this concept has gained popularity and can serve as a starting point to discuss how sadness affects people, especially men.
But, what does this day have to do with male emotional expression? Traditionally, sadness has been associated with crying, an expression all humans experience. However, the way sadness is socially accepted between genders varies greatly due to social and cultural factors.
The best way to verify this is by analyzing the number of popular phrases that continue to be part of our social imagination.
Men Don’t Cry
This phrase reflects the deeply ingrained cultural belief about the lack of emotional expression in men. Historically, men have been expected to show strength and self-control, associating crying with weakness or lack of masculinity.
This perception limits men’s ability to show their true selves, including sadness, which ultimately has implications for their emotional and mental well-being.
Unfortunately, this phrase is not the only one that conditions the emotional experience of men and women. You’ve probably also heard norms such as:
- “Men must always be strong”: Perpetuating the idea that men should not show vulnerability or emotional weakness under any circumstances.
- “A real man doesn’t show his emotions”: Suggesting that masculinity is measured by a man’s ability to hide his feelings.
- “Men solve their problems, they don’t talk about them”: Promoting the notion that men should be self-sufficient and handle their internal issues without seeking support or expressing them verbally.
- “A man must not be too sensitive”: Implying that sensitivity is an unmasculine quality and that men should avoid showing it.
- “Men don’t complain, they act”: Reinforcing the idea that men should focus on practical actions rather than discussing or expressing their concerns or problems.
These myths and phrases are not only harmful to men’s health but also perpetuate outdated and limiting gender stereotypes. After all, emotions are universal and sadness is fundamental.
Can Men Be Sad?
The question of whether men can be sad seems rhetorical, but it refers to a deeper issue about emotional expression in men. Sadness is a universal emotion that knows no gender. However, the way men have been conditioned to express sadness can significantly differ from women.
In this sense, the question “Can men be sad?” refers more to the right to express it without fear of being judged or stigmatized. And studies speak for themselves: although the rates of depression diagnosis tend to be higher in women, men are more prone to suffer severe consequences like suicide.
This suggests that sadness and depression in men often go unrecognized and untreated adequately. The stigma associated with the expression of vulnerability in men often leads to less recognition and seeking help.
Here’s What the Statistics Say
Precisely to clarify doubts about this phenomenon, at MYHIXEL we have surveyed men worldwide to check how they experience sadness through their masculinity. For this, we had a sample of more than 200 adult men (+18), with the average age being 34 years, from 17 nationalities (75% of Spanish nationality), and different orientations (with 86% being heterosexual).
Most men (77%) believe they still face social pressures for crying in public. Another noteworthy fact is that, for many, their partner is the main confidant of men, even over friends. This is reflected in how for many men, their first figure of support in their life is their partner.
On the other hand, while most men deny avoiding crying when they feel like it (53%), many resort to going to a place where they feel calm (24%), listening to music (19%), doing sports (16%), meeting with friends (12%), or playing a video game (12%) to avoid crying.
Last but not least, to the question “How do you feel when you see another man cry?”, more than 76% answered “empathy,” with “compassion” being the second most chosen option. This suggests that, in reality, crying helps us connect with the wounds of others and better understand the experiences of sadness of others.
Towards a Freer Future
Looking towards the future, we have the responsibility as a society to ensure that the expression of sadness in men is as accepted as it is in women. Dismantling harmful stereotypes and promoting a deeper understanding of male mental health will lead us to more empathetic environments.
With education, dialogue, and the promotion of role models who express a full range of emotions, we can move closer to this proposed future. Therefore, we encourage men to recognize, accept, and express their emotions, including sadness, with the aim of achieving optimal well-being and a more empathetic society.
And you, are you ready to start your journey towards a fuller life? Do not hesitate to contact us to help you find the most authentic version of yourself.