Men Crying in Public

I’ll take a break from writing about art and deal with something that seems to crop up at least once per year:

Men crying in public.

In this case, the instigator is a woman complaining about a man crying on his wedding day:

Once again, the typical response is to state that men should be able to cry or that a woman ought not to say what is and is not manly.

Both of these miss the point, which is that our public behavior is subject to judgment by both women and men, and the reality is that it is never advantageous for a man to cry in public. Splitting hairs about when it should or should not be tolerable (never acceptable) misses what is really at play here.

At best, people will excuse emotional incontinence because of an extreme circumstance; never will a man be openly commended for crying. Perhaps things ought to be different, but you are not likely to change them. Whether this situation is the result of feminism or something else doesn’t really matter; it is what it is.

If this response seems Machiavellian, it is. Frankly, more people, especially on the “right,” should think in more practical, Machiavellian terms. Operating according to an ideal that doesn’t exist will only result in your own destruction, but acknowledging how things are and what will and will not yield benefit to you or your purpose is a survival strategy. This is tempered by morality, as goal-seeking is not a license to sin.

Considering women, what men ought to consider is not what they say but how they act in response to things like crying. Women will complain about men being emotionally shut-down, but they will reject men who cry. This is because what a woman wants is to be in a man’s confidence, not for him to “be emotional.” She wants him to communicate his emotions to her (and even better only her), not to lose control of himself. Emotional incontinence can be pathos-evoking, disgusting, or terrifying, depending on the emotion being ejaculated.

Men are more forgiving of other men crying, but at the same time, they will usually feel uncomfortable witnessing it, and will view doing it in public as weak or un-leaderlike. Never will you gain a man’s respect by crying openly—you will only gain, at best, his sympathy. This also feeds back into the woman’s perspective; public crying damages a man’s status and therefore makes him less desirable as a mate.

This is the reality we live in. Women and men are held to vastly different standards. If you want to go through the world as a one-man attack on the status quo, good luck, but you should do so knowing what the status quo actually is. I think it is perilous to engage in crusades by oneself, especially with no tangible end goal.

I prefer to adjust my expectations to reality, not attempt the reverse. The world is hostile to men of ideas and passion, so it is best to be cautious with who you reveal your inner thoughts, and that includes how you allow emotion to affect you.

If you want to watch a video I did last year on this subject, here is one:


  1. Do you have thoughts on how the ancients would have assessed this? I’m of the same mind as you about withholding public dispalys of emotion, but I think this may be due to learning that it is generally punished by our society. Did men in some or much of the other 99.999% of human history cry publicly?

    • The ancients had stoicism as a philosophy, so I would look to that. Generally, favoring emotional continence aside from mythologized reactions, like Caesar crying when he finds out Pompey has been murdered. As a story, the point is to show how much Caesar respected his enemy; it is part of the myth, not about what someone ought to do on its own.

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