February 9, 2008 12:25 PM   Subscribe

Even though it's alright today for male celebrities to shed a tear or two, I'm just curious how many of you guys out there would be able to do it in front of your male friends, without the fear of being ridiculed?
posted by hadjiboy at 12:27 PM on February 9, 2008

I wouldn't be friends with people who'd ridicule me if I cried.
posted by Kattullus at 12:45 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dude, I cried at Dances With Wolves. And I'm fucking proud of it. So there.

Dances With Wolves! I am Wind In His Hair! Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?
posted by billysumday at 12:53 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Pretty much none of my straight male friends have hangups about crying or showing emotion.

What adult ridicules other adults for crying? I don't understand.
posted by hermitosis at 12:55 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't cry. But it's because I'm dead inside.

so very alone
posted by Justinian at 12:59 PM on February 9, 2008 [19 favorites]

This Myth Busters episode will pale in comparison to the "hot girls don't fart" segment.
posted by peeedro at 1:05 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

What adult ridicules other adults for crying? I don't understand.

Um, lots? Did you forget the part about how we have a major problem in our society with men showing emotion?
posted by ORthey at 1:12 PM on February 9, 2008

A friend once told me that our crime problem should be called our male crime problem, meaning that some of the issues addressed in the links need to be faced and dealt with if we are going to make any headway in creating a more peaceful, less fearful society.

Just because changing such fundamental patterns of male behavior seem intractable, given centuries of evidence of bad guys, does not mean we should give up.

And, yes, I know that there are some violent women with problems, and I know there are several directions this thread could go because the links are all over the place, psychologically. That's just one thing I came away with.
posted by kozad at 1:15 PM on February 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

Oh YAY a post about emotions and the importance of feeling one's feelings.

My neighbor is a macho Italian American and he cries every time he watches Random Harvest (he identifies with Ronald Coleman). I love that he cries. Honestly, don't think it's easy to be friends with anybody of either gender who is unable or unwilling to cry.

Loved it in Brokeback when the guys cried.

But then are are emo types who are off kilter, like wayy off and give emo a bad name, like Leave Britney Alone histrionics. Or men, who in being unable or feeling not permitted to feel their feelings, want a woman to "be like a man".

I think battered men or women may stay because an emotionally deep, survival template is set up in early childhood that triggers what Freud called "the repetition compulsion".

Weeping, a good thing. The science of tears.

In responding to your post, I just read this interesting article:

Until the Industrial Revolution, crying in public was considered normal, even for men. The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews, as part of their funeral rites, would cry into “lacrimatories.” These small vials full of tears were often sealed up and buried with the deceased as a tribute. During the 19th Century Victorian period, the grieving collected their tears in ornate bottles. When tears evaporatd from the tightly corked bottles, official mourning ended. But with the advent of the Industrial Age, diligent, unemotional workers were needed and crying became a private matter.

Apparently: Men weep an average of 1.4 times per month, while women cry about 5.3 times per month

Maybe a biological reason?

Boys and girls under age 12 cry with the same frequency and the same amount. But between ages 12 and 18 a gender difference in crying develops. This is also the time period when women develop higher levels of the stress-sensitive hormone prolactin. Women have 60 percent more prolactin than men. One more theory for men crying less often than women is that men sweat more than women, thereby releasing toxic chemicals through their sweat glands.
posted by nickyskye at 1:32 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I cry after watching certain episodes of Buffy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:34 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Don't cry it'll stain your blouse.
posted by nola at 1:37 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Pipe down, you fems.

Two words: Old Yeller.
posted by cog_nate at 1:37 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't know if you noticed, nickyskye, but the "leave Britney alone" video is not the original, but another one superimposed with homophobic comments.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:39 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I cried when I clicked on the Men link above and a PDF opened.
posted by Sailormom at 1:42 PM on February 9, 2008 [6 favorites]

posted by Postroad at 1:44 PM on February 9, 2008

There's one moment every year where I will absolutely, no matter what, weep openly in front of several hundred people. No matter how badly I don't want to cry.

It's during the Maundy Thursday service. As the liturgist, one of my jobs is to strip the altar of its vestments after the Eucharist. It's a huge, beautiful altar, decorated with cloth and silk, with a huge cross and Bible and a tall Christ light. It is stripped to symbolize the disciples' abandonment of Christ. It's impossibly sad and it's undertaken in silence - no solemn hymns or accompaniment at all. I have to lift each element off the altar and carry it down the chancel steps and out through the back of the sanctuary and put it on a table out of site. It takes several trips, and each time I approach the altar I always think, "But I don't want to do this." But no matter, the point is that this light is going to go out of the world for a bit (three days, specifically), and no matter how strong our faith is we are all of us guilty of turning our backs on peace, justice and (for me) the poorest among us. And I really, desperately just want to be comforted at this time, and one of the most comforting things for me is to see the Christ light there at the altar. Having to take it out of the chancel (and, metaphorically, out of the world) feels like getting hit with a wrecking ball. So there I am, carrying this heavy-ass brass cross out of the church in front of all these people, and the only sound I can hear is me, crying I'm eight years old and I got picked last for kickball.

For some people, it's harder to see the altar covered in black cloth on Good Friday. But then - at least there's something on it. After Maundy Thursday, when the lights go down, it feels like the sanctuary is utterly empty, and all the peace has left the world.

Thank God for Easter.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:53 PM on February 9, 2008 [28 favorites]

Also, this post would be incomplete without Dane Cook on crying.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:54 PM on February 9, 2008

Also, this post would be incomplete without Dane Cook on crying.

Has he run out of material to steal already?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:58 PM on February 9, 2008

Will someone please Paul Kivel (from the third link) to grow up and stop moaning about how everyone hurt and/or betrayed him. It's severely warped his view of the world.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:05 PM on February 9, 2008

A friend once told me that our crime problem should be called our male crime problem, meaning that some of the issues addressed in the links need to be faced and dealt with if we are going to make any headway in creating a more peaceful, less fearful society.

Ron Paul told me that our male crime problem should be called our Black male crime problem.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:15 PM on February 9, 2008

Men weep an average of 1.4 times per month, while women cry about 5.3 times per month

WTF? I haven't cried since 1991 when a line drive knocked me in the fellers when I was suckered into playing office intramural softball.

Cried like a baby.

1.4 times a month? Shit.
posted by John of Michigan at 2:19 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I have to say, I cried reading your comment, Baby_Balrog. (Of course, I'm teeming with prolactin, so I only used up one of my 5 this month. Gents may want to steel themselves if they need to save theirs for Valentine's Day or something.)
posted by headspace at 2:20 PM on February 9, 2008

Also, this post would be incomplete without Dane Cook on crying.

Really, things are often quite complete without the inclusion of Dane Cook. Just sayin'.

I dated a man for 7 years who was very stuck on the whole macho thing. He was an older man and he was very slavic, so it was his generation and his culture. He was always obsessed with not showing weakness. He definitely was the type of guy who would never cry in front of others, and when I would cry he really didn't know how to handle it AT ALL. He didn't like being emotional, but when we would have a disagreement he would get passionate about his side of the argument even if it didn't really matter. Then after I'd call him on it, he would say, "Well, you know you'll never win with me." and I would reply, "Ummm, but since I'm actually not the enemy and I'm on your side, you're only fighting with yourself, really." Because really, none of it had anything to do with me.

He once told me that the way he was raised was that a man never apologizes to a woman unless she's your mother, even when he is wrong. It shows weakness. So when he did assy things (which wasn't rare, really), we had to find ways that he could *kind of* ask forgiveness and make it up to me without anyone actually SAYING he was wrong.

Man, that macho junk was a fucking pain in the ass. I so don't miss that crap.

But then a few years ago I went out with a guy who apologized for EVERYTHING. And I realized that I hated that too. Because his apologies meant NOTHING. He would cry and get all emotional so often that I wanted to shake him and yell, "Suck it up, man! Save the crying for truly important things! This isn't worth it!" Finally one day I couldn't take it anymore and I told him that if he ever said he was sorry to me again I was going to scream because he did it so much that it felt meaningless. He was so wounded, I don't think he's really spoken to me since.

Moral of the story? As with all things, moderation is our friend. People who take things to extremes can be really fucking annoying.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:29 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't think men are as hormonally disposed to cry as women. Many things that make women cry, make men angry/aggressive instead.

I agree with John of M on this - I certainly don't cry once a month, or even once a year, and it isn't because I repress it in deference to social pressure.

Actually, I don't believe for a moment that women cry five times a month on average either.
posted by Phanx at 2:49 PM on February 9, 2008

This is a fascinating post. I get choked up a lot, most of the time I resent the manipulative shit that does it to me, to everyone For foucks sake do not ever every ever EVER cry over a car or credit card or dog food commercial, but that's the sort of emotional static we have to deal with (it's insidious) we've all been there though. Marketing MotherFu*kers.

But once or twice a year, I really and truly cry. Tension, stress, mourning, grief, disappointment, frustration, anger, guilt, regret and the big one...missing people, which I guess you can tied together with grief. It adds up. A piece of music I love opens up the flood gates, and suddenly I'm aware of how much I've been holding back and that it's kept me from moving forward or feeling happiness or much of anything.

It's as if there's a limit to how much emotion we can hold inside and until we deal with it, ain't nothing new or better or different going to happen in there. The motel in our hearts is all booked up. No new or better emotions and dreams gonna come and stay a while.

Another good thing about the music is that I would be mortified to know my neighbors could hear anythingthat would suggest I was crying.

When it's over, I go and buy myself flowers and get my nails done.. No (sorry). I usually want to see people and have some drinks. Tell some funny stories. Meet a girl or something...
posted by Skygazer at 2:52 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

For crying out loud
posted by Flashman at 2:56 PM on February 9, 2008

oh, quit crying - you are not a special snowflake

no emotional repression here, nosirree
posted by pyramid termite at 2:59 PM on February 9, 2008

Actually, I don't believe for a moment that women cry five times a month on average either.

It depends on the woman, but I could see it, easily. Actaully for certain women, I've known that's a low number.

Girls don't cry just when they're sad.
posted by Skygazer at 2:59 PM on February 9, 2008

I think some of the contempt for men crying has to do with the nature of the act. It just seems frequently attached to self pity, which is (to put it bluntly) a little pathetic. Also, it isn't the only way to experience or express sorrow or grief, something that some women, seem to forget. I find the idea that men need to be emotionally 'retrained' appalling. We really don't need to become women to be whole or healthy. If some men express themselves in a different way, so be it. Also, the pairing of violence and the lack of tears in the video is inane. Oh, and I cry at least once a month -- from laughing.
posted by Raoul de Noget at 3:00 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Obligatory link to this ditty.
posted by Skygazer at 3:00 PM on February 9, 2008

I cry pretty much every time I hear the song "1952 Vincent Black Lightning". For reals. My friends fuck with me by putting it on and sitting silently until they catch me weeping. I fucking hate my friends sometimes.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:04 PM on February 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

Maybe guys just don't find things as sad as women? Well, except for the ending of The Iron Giant (spoilers obviously). Damn, dust in my eyes. Su-per-man...
posted by markr at 3:16 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

blazecock: The Body from Season 5 always, always gets me, and, for that matter, a bunch of my male friends.
We've agreed that if you don't tear up at least once during the episode, you're a robot.
posted by heeeraldo at 3:51 PM on February 9, 2008

Many things that make women cry, make men angry/aggressive instead.

I have found (I am a woman) that I tend to cry not just when sad but also when angry or extremely frustrated and I have heard many women say the same thing. I don't really think it's the emotions that are different, just the physical repsonse.
posted by LeeJay at 3:54 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Astro Zombie, the "leave Britney alone" video is not the original, but another one superimposed with homophobic comments

In looking for the Chris Crocker video I accidentally came across that superimposed one and thought it was classic as a hate mirror of the histrionics, not just homophobic but against women, gays, Britney being not anorexically thin. To me the hate is as ridiculous as the histrionics.
posted by nickyskye at 3:55 PM on February 9, 2008

That's not to say I always cry when angry. Sometimes I just break things and yell a lot. THEN I cry.
posted by LeeJay at 3:56 PM on February 9, 2008

I almost never cry. But any time see I see Jimmy Stewart reach into his coat pocket and discover Zuzu's petals, I weep like a baby. I was embarrassed about the fact until I decided my drag name should be Zuzu Petals. I figure I might as well my unmanliness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:26 PM on February 9, 2008

I never cry. Ever. The last time I cried was over four years ago and it was over some Very Big Stuff.*

Before that, however, I'm pretty sure it'd been a decade or more. The really strange part is that I remember thinking during that final sad, angry crying spell, "Well, this is going to be the last time I ever cry." It wasn't a decision, or at least it didn't feel like one. The thought entered my mind as though from somewhere else, as though it was being spoken to me. Almost like an "and then I heard the voice of God" sensation, although it clearly was not that. It was certainly me.

At the time, I remember thinking, "Huh, what a strange and definitely false thing to think." But then it turned out to be basically, entirely true. I don't feel as though my emotions have changed all that much--I still can get listless, angry and sad, but it never, ever leads to tears. On rare ocassion, I'll feel the need to cry, but even then it doesn't happen. Otherwise, it's just not a reaction that, like, occurs to me.

I don't worry about it. Maybe I should. Maybe I'll post an AskMe on the topic someday.

*Actually, now that I think harder about it, I think there was another instance between then and now, and it was also over some pretty Big Stuff.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 4:46 PM on February 9, 2008

Pretty much none of my straight male friends have hangups about crying or showing emotion.

Same here, and neither me or most of my friends are what you'd call New Age males.
posted by jonmc at 4:55 PM on February 9, 2008

(also, I will publicly admit that at the end of Rocky when he hollers out for Adrian, I start blubbering. Same with Rudy.)
posted by jonmc at 4:58 PM on February 9, 2008

jonmc: How about the ending to Cool Runnings? (The ending to The Killing Fields brought out my worst boo-hooing, hands down.)
posted by raysmj at 5:26 PM on February 9, 2008

I think many guys here who are saying "Pnone of my male friends have hangups about crying or showing emotion." I don't think your taking into account how much you really do bury your emotions. And the context of emotions you expose, This kind of thing is deep embedded in us. I bet you and your friends are far more stunted by our societies duplicitous views on male emotion than you think.

Ironically there are certain instances where it's socially acceptable for men to cry. When they lose (or win) an important sporting event, for instance. I see fighters cry all the time. Their peers won't judge them in that context. Or a death in the family. We may see that and feel compassion and think that it's some full spectrum of sensitivity. But it's not.

My business is an office that is all women. A couple of them cry all the time. About all sorts of things - at times it's god damned goofy. And no matter how sensitive I am it freaks me out sometimes. I just don't know what to do.

Anyway. The point. I know IF I ever demonstrated that level of emotion in the workplace none of them would hold the same respect for me. I know this.

How? We had one guy who worked with us for a while as a contractor. One day his girl friend dumped him at lunch and he came back and broke down on his desk. Not hysterical mind you. Just a few sobs. To his face most of the gals were consoling. But afterwards there was a palpable and distinct difference in how he was treated. They were clearly weirded out. It even made me kind of viscerally slightly disgusted with everybody. Including him.

When it was time to hire another contractor nobody wanted him back (even though he was good). I know that incident, as innocent as it was, was the major reason. And when I saw him later he told me how ashamed he felt for breaking down like that. It got me thinking interestingly I never had any of female employees or co-workers every apologize for emotional outbursts. Even the really over dramatic instances. But this one guy was not allowed to be frigg'n human?

Like I said I think most of you guys would be surprised about how much men suppress.
posted by tkchrist at 5:31 PM on February 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

I've seen my father cry once, a few weeks ago. When he was much younger, one of his cousins who he was very close to died in a plane crash. I was named after this cousin, and he's never really dealt with it, or, uh, with any other emotions at all. This Christmas, my uncle got him a copy of a documentary on the crash, and just holding the DVD in his hand apparently crushed him.
So we all met up for Christmas in New York, and, while waiting for the subway at 137th and Broadway, he and I begin talking about the DVD. All of a sudden, he stops talking and I look up to see that he's actually tearing up. He looked HORRIFIED, and when I patted him on the shoulder, he looked directly at me, pulled back and literally walked away, facing the wall until it had subsided and we could get on the train. It was intensely awkward. Of course, this is the guy who, when I was a child, told me that crying was just an attempt at manipulation.
After some Big Stuff, I went through about 4 years of not crying, until recently. The bad part is that now I cry randomly, in public, without provocation.
posted by 235w103 at 5:38 PM on February 9, 2008

Wow, most of the things that will make me cry have already been listed here (Iron Giant, The Body and Rocky will all get me). The last time I teared up was for the final scene of Last of the Mohicans.

I mean with that music, and that guy ... and then the girl ... and then the old man just ... oh, dude.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:41 PM on February 9, 2008

So why does it feel like I have a cramp in my throat (actually the back of the roof of my mouth--soft palate maybe) when I cry? What is the physiological relation between this cramping, my tear glands and my emotional state? I think I tend to ruin the therapeutic effects of crying by asking myself these questions.
posted by well_balanced at 5:44 PM on February 9, 2008

I have never seen my father cry. He choked up at his fathers funeral. And then I saw him wipe a tear during his moms funeral. But he has never cried in front of us.

I will cry easily at stupid shit. Like episodes of Little House on the Prairie or certain movies. I choked up pretty bad at he Shoa (Holocaust) Museum in Paris when my wife, in tears, was brought over to me by two apologetic old ladies had showed her their Auschwitz tattoos and she lost it... and THEY felt bad.

When I "should" cry, like at funerals or like when my sister-in-law died right in front of me... I can't cry. In fact I feel like I should be doing something useful or I get suddenly bossy. This has always made me feel guilty.

I think many men are this way. I think we cry when it's "safe" like during Old Yeller.
posted by tkchrist at 5:50 PM on February 9, 2008

That statistic about men crying 1.4x/month, women 5.3x/month seems really high - I wonder where it came from? (The linked article from the San Mateo newspaper wasn't too specific.) Nobody I know cries that much, at least that they'll admit to. And the different styles for men and women (men tear up in silence, women sob noisily) also sounds kinda bogus - it depends on the reason why the person is crying. For a superficial reason (for lack of a better term) like a sad movie or song, a few silent tears usually suffice. For true grief, I think everyone sobs.

Here's my own observation about what might contribute to men's inhibitions about crying: men are in positions such as the military, fire department, etc where they depend on others for life and limb more often than women. I suspect that women in these positions are similarly inhibited about crying. In these situations you simply don't give up, because others are depending on you equally. Tears of frustration (as opposed to grief) are a sign of giving up, and you've failed in your obligation to your team. They know they can't count on you absolutely and tend to ostracize you for being useless. Tears of grief, on the other hand, signify something entirely different and are therefore acceptable.

This observation comes from my experience on an archeological expedition team which spent a few weeks swinging machetes through godawful undergrowth. Although it was never a matter of life and limb, it was still a situation in which you counted on others to help you out if you got in too deep, and you knew you had to be there for them in return. There was a powerful sense of obligation and quitters were silently scorned. As a result, frustration was expressed by some of the most blistering profanity I've ever heard, but never tears (except for the despised quitter, whom pretty much nobody ever talked to.) This held equally true for the men and the women, so I think attitudes toward crying are situational more than genetic.
posted by Quietgal at 5:50 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

That Dane Cook bit is the most unexpected and gratifying piece I've ever seen him do. He must like people after all, just a little.

I have nothing else to contribute here. I cry from good service. I cried in The Simpsons Movie. Inever cried in a therapist's office that I can recall, oddly. I do cry on father's day, though. Typical. Whatever, I'm a very happy person, well venitlated.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:52 PM on February 9, 2008

posted by miss lynnster at 5:54 PM on February 9, 2008

miss lynnster, that was just LOW. *blubbers uncontrollably*
posted by LeeJay at 6:00 PM on February 9, 2008

and the pathetic part is I didn't even watch the video. I just looked at the URL in the status bar and starting tearing up.
posted by LeeJay at 6:01 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I am a male. I don't typically cry from physical pain or sadness or anger. I cry when I witness a showing of genuine love.

This happens in the movies all the time. Even if the movie is terrible, it still might make me cry if it shows some sort of decent depiction of selfless love. So I cry at movies constantly. Sometimes a human interest news story will make me cry when it involves someone doing something truly humane for another person.

Events in my actual life, unfortunately, don't make me cry as often. I did cry the very first time I told my wife I loved her. We were married in our house. As I watched her come down the stairs in her wedding dress to the processional music, I cried like I have never cried before. It was a wonderful moment, and I felt a joy and a love I had never felt before. And I cried.
posted by flarbuse at 6:32 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I like to think of myself as a person who doesn't cry that often, but that is a total self-mythologizing untruth, because the last time I watched Fiddler on the Roof I counted twenty-four separate uncontrollable crying instances. When Tevye sings to the cows! When the Christian stomps his boot and makes Tevye dance with him! When the rabbi is overcome with emotion and his old mouth yawns opens like a cartoon cave with a dreaming bear inside! When the soldiers smash the dishes! When the score transitions to minor! When they eat that cheese that looks so good that I've never been able to find in a store! MY GOD that last one is the worst.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 7:06 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am the same as Flarbuse - I cry at movies and television way more than I cry about real life stuff. It takes, as other people have said, Really Big Stuff for me to cry about things in my own life.

I did notice recently that there are times where I am feeling more emotional over life stuff and am more susceptible to crying at fictional stuff as well - films that wouldn't normally make me cry do under those circumstances.
posted by crossoverman at 7:21 PM on February 9, 2008

Fry's dog. Fry's dog.

*tiny tears*
posted by Rhaomi at 7:27 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Why, it was just last week I cried. When the Giants won the Super Bowl, I cried remembering the afternoons with my Pop watching the G-Men find a way to lose. I also cried when Thurman died.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:07 PM on February 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

Fry's dog. Fry's dog.

Yeah, really. Gets me every time.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:06 PM on February 9, 2008

Just saw this photo of a chameleon scared by a dog. Apparently that's how chameleons express their emotions, turning colors/shades. Wonder why crying tears evolved in humans?
posted by nickyskye at 9:13 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I find a lot of the blatant macho-ism completely irritating. I know society has conditioned you to be unfeeling machines of practicality, but when my male friends proudly declare "I can't remember the last time I cried!" with a big grin on their face and they are the same people who will shift around awkwardly when a girl friend or a girlfriend starts silently tearing up, it pisses me off. Yeah, okay, you don't cry, but it's not a bloody crime, okay?
posted by Phire at 10:01 PM on February 9, 2008

I think it's a cultural thing, like (straight) men (or women) holding hands with each other. Kamal Hassan always cries in his (gangster-oriented) movies, but Denzel Washington rarely does.
posted by the cydonian at 10:02 PM on February 9, 2008

I also cried when Thurman died.

Not being into sports particularly (or spelling, I guess), when I read that I suddenly had a mental picture that disturbed me greatly.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:03 PM on February 9, 2008

I have wept, wept now, uncontrollable tears, twice in the last seven or eight years, once after Katrina when I didn't know where my mother was (fleeing the storm) and a city I love was all fucked up and once in the course of a shit-ass three hour nightmare argument with my wife, where I was all wrung out and I realized I was totally wrong. Other than that, not so much for the real blubbering, the hyperventilating, snot running, get the hiccups, baby crying.

I tear up fairly frequently though, just a little leak, a little knuckle away, just scratching my nose move, movies, music, firefighters dying (pretty much my last 9/11 hangover), people being nice to each other, genuine expressions of loss or regret. I last leaked some tears a week ago at a memorial for a friend of my fathers (pops was away and couldn't attend so I stood in for him) and a full on brilliant ad hoc band sang Joe Hill, granted this was in Riverside Church where I defy you not to get emotional. It felt pretty good and I was glad because this was someone I know my father was grieving for and while I hadn't seen him for a long while, I wanted to grieve for him too and there were a lot of people there that also felt that loss, so I shed some tears, I was waiting to do it and I was wondering if I was going to be able to, if something was going to put me over the edge and goddamn if hearing Joe Hill:

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

Didn't just uncork the waterworks. I'm not generally a weeper though. I've never seen my father cry, despite being through some tough shit with him, I don't know if I could bear it if I did see him cry, I wish I knew if that was a good thing or a bad thing.

My general stance is cry when you need to, but make sure it's for a good reason. It usually is.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:08 PM on February 9, 2008

I'd add that one time where I really wanted to cry and couldn't was when my Godmother died, a woman who was so good to me and whom I loved, unconditionally. I couldn't cry at all, I wanted to, I listened to an endless procession of Irish dirges, I got shamefully shitass kneewalking drunk, I gave long speeches to my wife about how much she meant to me and I couldn't so much as mist up, I was entirely justified in crying, it would have been welcomed in fact, but nothing doing. Point being that there are perhaps more levels at work than the simple fact that men are conditioned to not show weakness, maybe.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:24 PM on February 9, 2008

These two Pedigree commercials are not. fucking. fair.

seriously. I lose it in like 10 seconds.
posted by Parannoyed at 11:02 PM on February 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, I had another interesting note.

This may be completely subjective, but I believe that my experience with certain illicit substances has had profound long-term effects on my ability to cry. That is to say, I am more able to do so when I feel the need. In fact, I feel more emotionally in-touch (which sounds so new-agey when I say it) than I ever did before I started experimenting. In fact, I firmly believe it only takes one dose to have the desired effect. I know there's been research on exactly what I'm talking about, using these drugs to assist in couples therapy with sometimes amazing results. I'm wondering if anyone else here has had similar effects?
posted by Parannoyed at 11:11 PM on February 9, 2008

One day his girl friend dumped him at lunch and he came back and broke down on his desk. Not hysterical mind you. Just a few sobs. To his face most of the gals were consoling. But afterwards there was a palpable and distinct difference in how he was treated.

To be the antagonistic side here, and if anyone here knew me they would know I'm not one for "work" and that whole sort of decorum, for fuck's sake it is not my job or responsibility to deal with this sort of lack of self-control, man or woman, and to force others to deal with your emotional breakdowns is quite impolite.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:26 AM on February 10, 2008

The Fountain had me bawling. In fact, when in a movie theater I'm rather easy to bring to tears.

TheOnlyCoolTim: to force others to deal with your emotional breakdowns is quite impolite.

Now, I'm Nordic and therefore fairly repressed. I'll choke back the tears in pretty much any social situation (movie theaters and funerals excepted) but the thing about an emotional breakdown is that it's a breakdown. There's not much one can do to stop it. It's never easy for anyone to break down in public (some people are exceptions). I think it should be respected when people get overwhelmed with emotion.
posted by Kattullus at 1:10 AM on February 10, 2008

This Myth Busters episode will pale in comparison to the "hot girls don't fart" segment.

Where I come from, hot girls have tears coming out their ass and real men have farts coming out their eyes.
posted by Anything at 3:09 AM on February 10, 2008

and to force others to deal with your emotional breakdowns is quite impolite

Yeah. They're clearly only doing it because they're rude jerks who want to make you uncomfortable. Bastards.
posted by Sparx at 5:29 AM on February 10, 2008

This would not be complete without:

"Strong men also cry. Strong men also cry!"

(The Big Lebowski)

Seriously, this post raises interesting questions about our collective "emotional IQ" or lack thereof. My hope is that over time, more of us will become more aware and capable of the importance of feelings in discourse. Or is it more realistic that sensitivity comes and goes in degrees, culturally?
posted by AppleSeed at 7:53 AM on February 10, 2008

Pardon botched cut-and-paste job. You know what I meant to say. teh.
posted by AppleSeed at 7:54 AM on February 10, 2008

Show me a man who doesn't cry at even one point during Life is Beautiful and I will show you a blind man who doesn't understand English and Italian.

The prison scene where Guido steals the mic to exclaim "Bonjour Principessa" and pumps classical music through the speakers? Hell I'm tearing up just thinking about that.
posted by chime at 9:24 AM on February 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just watched the clip and classical music was just background. I think it was maybe Andrew Dufresne who did that in Shawshank Redemption. Gah! Now there's two movies that tear me up. Thanks for nothing hadjiboy! :)
posted by chime at 9:30 AM on February 10, 2008

Wonderfully said chime, beautiful examples. I love those scenes you mentioned. Shawshank is my favorite movie.

There are a number of things I've learned about emotions over the years. Among them is that what appears to be a single feeling, like laughter, or sadness, anger, bitterness or jealousy is usually connected with several other feelings and may arise one after the other or together, rolled up in each other. This is one of the ways therapy or talking with emotionally awake friends works, to sort feelings out and by verbalizing them make sense of them, own them or become aware that there may be shadow feelings behind the obvious one.

Another thing is that there are appropriate feelings and inappropriate feelings. The inappropriate feelings are the ones expressed to deliberately hurt another person or as a manipulation/exploitation.

Another thing is that feelings may shut down under stress or trauma and take a long time to surface and when they do it may be with a lot of other, often confusing, feelings attached. This happened when, for example, my next door neighbor, Mary, burned to death in November '88. Terror shut my feelings down totally. A blank inside and that shocked me. I knew I needed to cry. It makes total sense to me now why those professionally caretaking others in one capacity or another like fireman don't cry, or soldiers, cops, nurses, doctors, doing jobs around which there may be many tears shed. In my case adrenalin and survival impulses kick in. I was ashamed I hadn't saved her life, I was asleep and thought her cries for help were a mewing kitten in the back alley which I did get up after half an hour to save and it turned out to be Mary. Shock, horror, amazement, overwhelming pity, disgust at the damage the fire did to her body, tenderness, laughter at my disgust, fear, loss, regret.

Feelings may be split off and unable to be owned, and projected onto somebody else or may be experienced in a sort of backlog. One of the ways that film helps this releasing is in catharsis.

One of the most important things, imo, I learned about feelings is that it's important to feel them and know about them.
posted by nickyskye at 9:34 AM on February 10, 2008

Just as another data point, I am female and rarely cry when sad or afraid, or at movies or tv shows, but when I am very frustrated the tears come out. This makes it hard to have serious debates with people, especially when I feel strongly about something and I am trying to maintain composure and state my case. Maybe I should have been on debate team in high school.

Oh, the other thing is Joanna Newsom. If I am sincerely listening to every word, perhaps walking alone outside at night with headphones...every time.
posted by mayfly wake at 11:05 AM on February 10, 2008

Gong to see Persepolis last night was like emotional "red light green light". Sometimes it seems like people who aren't as expressive as I am have it easier, physically.

It's no wonder that actors are on the spot for showing emotion in this post. The singular experience that taught me how to detect, recognize, and express, sublimate, transform or otherwise control my emotions was acting class. Serious Meisner-style acting is a pretty damn handy tool.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2008

Late to the party, like usual.

I think an important element that's been alluded to by various folks, but most eloquently by QuietGal, is that context is critically important.

People who work in fire, police, EMS, emergency medicine and so forth cry. Men and women. All the time. But very, very rarely on the job. In fact, losing your shit on the job is the quickest route to making your coworkers not trust you, because it shows a lack of priorities. In the moment, you have a job to do. No matter how insane the environment gets, your team is counting on you to do your job like your life depends on it, and to permit nothing whatsoever to stand in the way of completing that job.

If you start crying, you're putting yourself ahead of the job. Bad move in a critical, 911 situation. You're pulling yourself out of serving the patient and into serving yourself, which is self-centered and useless. You're letting the team down.

After the fact, you can get as hysterical as you want without consequence, because you did your job, and that was some nasty shit, and it's got to come out one way or another. There's no penalty for it from your coworkers, and no respect lost, because, fuck, it's not like every single other person involved hasn't had the same thing happen to them.

Men crying (or women crying) doesn't bother me. Men or women crying when they have a goddamned job to do pisses me off. Case in point: I was watching "Trauma: Life in the ER" the other night (oh, how I love that show), and there's this hairy case going on, and a resident (I think she was a resident, but she may have been a medical student) was using a needle full of lidocaine to treat a scalp laceration on an illegal immigrant who'd gotten injured.

The attending had already told her once to be careful and not stick herself. But, hey presto, she sticks herself. Okay, no biggie, it happens. But this particular student or resident or whatever she was went apeshit. Crying, freaking out, a total panic reaction. I mean, what the fuck. You get stuck, you deal with it, and you get back to work. Yeah, you may have just gotten infected with something bad, but you deal with that on your own time. At least two or three other people had to comfort her and pull her down off the ceiling, and the more I saw, the more pissed I got.

I wasn't pissed at the crying, or even the reaction. I was pissed at the monumental self-absorption it takes to wig out like that in the middle of a working trauma. Well, that, and I was pissed at the carelessness that led to the stick, because, come on, duh. But, still. The patient's still lying there with a half-anesthetized head lac, and the person who was working on him is off having a High Drama moment. Bah.
posted by scrump at 10:46 AM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

What is it with shelter animals that tears me up every time? Why don't those child sponsor commercials get the same response?
posted by estelahe at 6:36 PM on February 11, 2008

he came back and broke down on his desk. Not hysterical mind you. Just a few sobs.

losing your shit on the job is the quickest route to making your coworkers not trust you

Think about the language in both of these quotes: "broke down on his desk", "losing your shit".

It's one thing to stop everything and launch into disconsolate sobs or wails or howls. For Northern adults, that's only acceptable in response to extraordinarily sad and trying situations.

But there's a broad range of phenomena that generally count as "crying" without coming close to "breaking down" or "losing your shit".

When I'm experiencing strong feelings or under stress, I often experience some or all of the following:

- Throat constriction, leading to strained, flattened voice.
- Sniffly nose.
- Tears.
- Uneven, jerky breathing. (This is the silent version. With added voice, this kind of breathing turns into sobs.)

Generally while this is happening, I can continue to think and function just fine. At work or in a public place, it's embarrassing -- even for me, teeming with prolactin. But really, it's not a crisis and nobody has to do anything about it.

I eventually figured out that fighting those physiological responses just intensified them, increasing the chance that I'd eventually "break down" or "lose my shit." So now I just try to keep going and let the symptoms ride. If I'm lucky, no one draws attention to it; my breath eventually evens out and the liquids and constriction go away after a few seconds.

for fuck's sake it is not my job or responsibility to deal with this sort of lack of self-control, man or woman

Quite so. It's none of your business; kindly feel free to ignore it.
posted by tangerine at 9:35 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

I cry at normal things: death of a loved one and the usual bad shit. In the past few years, I have found myself crying at certain pieces of very emotive music. Chopin... oy. Once on the street here I saw a girl about 15 singing a sad song while being accompanied by an equally sad violin player of about the same age. Tears streaming down my cheeks.

I was recording a friend of mine who has one of the sweetest voices I've ever heard. When she was done...
"How was that take?"

posted by chillmost at 2:25 AM on February 12, 2008

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