Why Men Don't Cry

This article covers the topic of domestic violence. Reader discretion is advised.

When we're asked to think about what makes a man, we imagine the characteristics of leadership, strength and intelligence possessed by characters like Superman or prominent figures such as Idris Elba. With the recent events of Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, evidence revealed that Heard physically attacked Depp over the course of their marriage. 

#MeToo and #TimesUp are movements heavily filled with femme voices because 90% of sexual assault and rape victims are women. What many fail to realize is that men suffer from these cases as well, even at the hands of women.

The notion of toxic masculinity, which is defined as a violent and sexually aggressive portrayal of the male gender, is a topic that is usually mentioned when misdeeds are committed against women and non-binary folks. The part often ignored is the direct disservice toxic masculinity brings to men as well.

When little boys get hurt, they are told to man up. When tears come streaming down their face, they are called “pussies” or “gay,” making it seem that the emotions of melancholy only belong to those who relate to more feminine characteristics such as women or femme gay men, and that they are bad emotions to experience.

When speaking to a social worker, who would like to remain anonymous for this article, she noted her experience with her first male domestic violence victim:

“As a woman who is specialized in counseling with female victims of domestic violence, it was weird when our hotline received a call from a male victim. We took it seriously, but there was still a different attitude. He disclosed that his girlfriend attacked him, which led to a lot of disbelief within the office because men are usually the ones who are the perpetrators when it comes to violence in relationships. When he came in, he had a black eye, a lot of bruises and blood. That moment really forced me to realize that my field wasn’t only for women and children, and to not keep the lens that only men can cause destruction and violence in that matter.”

The social worker continued on to mention the differentiating struggles that both men and women face:

“Women are still struggling with being taken seriously when abused. People state that the women involved in these destructive relationships should just leave. People state this without understanding the factors that are causing her to stay. There’s a similar disbelief that happens towards male victims too. Instead of threats towards killing or abusing children or being financially dependent, a male victim may be ostracized by those around him because a woman is the one who is abusing him. Men are supposed to be strong, both emotionally and physically. So, when a woman 'crosses the line' that is usually seen in masculinity, it’s like the man loses his masculinity card because he wasn’t able to ‘control’ her.”

When looking back at the shock of Heard's false allegations, the social worker’s original view isn’t an unpopular one. When the news broke out in 2016, many created boycotts against Johnny Depp and cast members on Fantastic Beasts 2 felt disappointed with Depp’s appearance in the film.

Focusing on the pain that men face shouldn’t be a factor used to dismiss the pressures and abuses that women face. But it should be mentioned because it's a cycle that does not only hurt men but harms women, non-binary people and children. One action towards one member in society spirals down to harm another member. 

The lack of encouragement for men to share their emotions through communication is one of the many reasons why suicide among men is higher than women, with men using more violent tactics to ensure death.

When one of your male family members, co-workers, friends, acquaintances or a stranger cries, don’t tell him to "man up." Console him. Give him the space that he needs. He has the right to express his emotions just like you do too.

Call 1-800-799-7233 or access Crisis Text Line if you or a loved one is suffering from domestic violence.

Sources: 1, 2

Images: 1, 2, 3