Men cry too: Destigmatize gender stereotypes

Illustration+by+Emmalene+Oysti

Illustration by Emmalene Oysti

North Wind Staff

The simple act of telling a child “it’s OK to cry” can make a lasting effect on their development. However, men are often not encouraged to cry from a young age. Men are told “be a man” or “be tough,” but bottling up emotions does not define one’s gender, it only inhibits the natural response of being a human.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for all ages in 2013. One suicide happens every 13 minutes. The same report stated males take their lives at nearly four times the rate of females and represent 77.9 percent of all suicides.

Time has ingrained this “be a man” culture into society, and changing the way we discuss mental health and the male identity may begin to combat these disturbing statistics.

It is important to remember that men struggle from gender stereotypes just as much as women do, and we are the generation who needs to push for a culture that allows people to develop without judgement.

While our society has become more and more aware of gender stereotypes surrounding girls, harmful stereotypes that exist for boys tend to fly under the radar.

Developing into an adult under these conditions does not ease the awkwardness of adolescence. Life brings a multitude of new challenges with it. For men feeling the weight of gender stereotypes, outwardly showing emotion might not always feel like an option.

We have to strive for men of all generations to know that it’s OK to not be OK, that it’s OK to cry. When life happens, be more than willing to get help for yourself and help others, even if it’s just simply lending an ear. Support is out there, we just have to be more comfortable in asking for it. Let’s end the stigmas surrounding mental illness, but let’s also end the stigma that men shouldn’t express their emotions. Remember self care is imperative, and if we change the culture and the conversation, we can change the statistics.

NMU’s Counseling and Consultation Services offers free and completely confidential group and general counseling sessions. The Dial Help Community Support and Outreach Center based in Houghton can also be contacted 24/7 and can provide help on a range of
issues.