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“What Makes Men Cry?”: An Examination of Toxic Masculinity

Buzzfeed, an internet sensation, publishes videos ranging from a man’s cuddly first encounter with orphaned kittens to interviews seeking to answer an age old question; what makes men cry?

According to the gender stereotypes, a man is obligated to be strong, decisive and analytic.  and in 1976 Deborah S. David and Robert Brannon “described the four standards of the traditional American masculinity”:

(1) “no sissy stuff”
Distance self from femininity, homophobia, avoid emotions
(2) “be a big wheel”
Strive for achievement and success, focus on competition
(3) “be a sturdy oak”
Avoid vulnerability, stay composed and in control, be tough
(4) “give em hell”
Act aggressively to become dominant

(as cited in Meek, n.d.)

Where does acceptance of emotional reaction come into play? It doesn’t. However, traditional America is disappearing as progressive America rises. The abolition of traditional gender stereotypes, gender roles and toxic masculinity (described by Geek Feminism Wiki as, “the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth”) has allowed us to more comfortably question the taboo of male tears.

Buzzfeed, specifically BuzzfeedYellow, asked their male employees what makes them cry and the responses are astonishing. The video begins with one fellow stating, “I think what makes men cry is the same thing that makes women cry”—surprising? The next quotes, what could be a result of toxic masculinity, are even more surprising—”I try to hide it, like most dudes do… not because I’m sad, but because I don’t want people to feel like they need to help”, said by Keith while Eugene says, “I honestly can’t remember the last time I cried in front of somebody” but then goes on to state he clearly remembers hitting things instead. The video goes on to interview a number of different men who talk about the different situations in which they’ve cried, including the death of a loved one or friend, the emotional hook of a movie, etc,.

“I think what makes men cry is the same thing that makes women cry”—something to keep in mind.

With that being said, it becomes clearer and clearer how negatively the enforcement of gender roles and stereotypes can affect us. What happens to a man who feels he is unable to express himself emotionally in a time of need? Crying is a necessary coping skill and denial of emotional release is detrimental to mental health. In turn, we become angry beings who hold onto this rage subconsciously and exemplify it in everyday actions. A cycle is born out of this; the more toxic masculinity is ingrained, the more it becomes a toxic truth.

If the same things make both genders cry, why do we treat emotional reaction differently? At the end of the day, both genders are similarly triggered by the same things and, therefore, we should expect similar reaction. Being able to express emotion, as a man, is a good thing! Toxic masculinity is, for lack of better words, a toxic addition to society’s standards. If such an idea can be socially constructed, it can be socially destroyed.


BuzzFeedYellow. (2014, December 2). What makes men cry [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_2YWTG9Rug

Meek, W. (n.d.). Male gender role. Retrieved from http://www.psychologyofmen.org/male-gender-role/

Toxic masculinity. (n.d.). In Geek Feminism Wiki. Retrieved June 5, 2015, from http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Toxic_masculinity

Edited by: Zoe

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Written by Alyson Alonzo

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Hey everyone! My name is Aly and I'm currently studying Psychology, Neuroscience and Bioethics. My personal interests include human sexuality and gender psychology, neuroscience, abnormal psychology and spirituality. Feel free to contact me with any interesting ideas for future articles!

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“What Makes Men Cry?”: An Examination of Toxic Masculinity