In an episode of Satyameva Jayate, Amir Khan who anchored and produced it, often said how he broke into tears at the drop of a hat and was surprised why crying was considered to be unmanly for the male and added to the femininity of women and girls. Sometime back, Vogue India ran a public service campaign on satellite channels titled Start With The Boys. This two-minute film directed by Vinil Mathew was a campaign against domestic violence.

Built up of a collage of interesting images of boys in different ages and classes being urged, scolded, threatened, pulled up and rebuked for crying, it is supposed to turn the male conditioning of placing a taboo on males shedding tears on its head. In the climax, the camera tracks back to show a handsome young man twisting the arm of his partner whose face is battered and bruised already. Madhuri Dixit appears in the climax and says that it would be better if boys are taught that girls do not make anyone cry. The connect fails to make sense but one thing– the male conditioning that insisted that males are not supposed to cry suggested exactly the opposite of what the campaign originally wished to bring out – men may cry but must not make others cry.

The taboo on males to shed tears has been an age-old belief handed down from one generation to the next almost universally. It is traced back to patriarchy where men are considered the stronger sex and have been brought up to believe that they need to protect, rescue and look after women and children. So, if they cry, or shed tears openly, they are considered to be too weak to take responsibility for any job, person or group. Men who cry are taken to be less masculine than men who don’t.

One fails to understand the logic of criticizing men for expressing their tears openly when girls are considered to be more feminine for crying. Studies show that while almost all of us shed emotional tears at some time -- at least 47 times a year for women, and seven for men -- exactly why we cry, and much about what happens when we do, remains a mystery.

For crying, a uniquely human form of emotional expression, to have survived evolution, it should have a practical purpose and give some kind of survival advantage. Besides, no gender angle should attach itself to the simple act of crying. Crying is not a symbol of weakness- just an emotional action. It is only because society expects us to be stereotypical that we came up with that conclusion. A poem that illustrates this opinion is Just and Ordinary Rainbow where a man is crying in the street and everyone is somewhat shocked to see this.

In an article in The Independent, UK (November 13, 2008), Roger Dobson states “crying makes nine out of 10 people feel better, reduces stress, and may help to keep the body healthy. It is free, available to almost everyone, and has no known side effects, other than wet tissues, red eyes and runny makeup. Crying may not be a blockbuster drug, but the latest research suggests it's highly effective at healing, and that it improves the mood of 88.8 per cent of weepers, with only 8.4 per cent feeling worse. So beneficial is it that the researchers suggest there may be a case for inducing crying in those who find it difficult to let go.”

The taboo against men letting go of their emotions and cry in front of others began from the time when men were forced to go to war and face the death of friends or their own injuries. It was felt that if men gave in to their fear of death or disability, they might be killed at war simply because they were considered to be ‘cowards.’ Even at the end of World War I it was believed that if a man reacted in a way that was counter to courage on the battlefield, he was considered to be expendable and was killed for his cowardice of which crying was one. This belief as become so deeply ingrained in the minds of boys and men is that they refuse to let others witness their tears and often cry in the privacy of the restroom or inside a locked bedroom. He feels embarrassed to shed tears even at a funeral service and this bears heavily on his mind.

Boys conditioned to bottle up their emotions from an early age realise too late that not crying does not make the emotions go away. They remain inside calling all the shots. It may also lead to the bottled up man hurting himself for not being able to shed tears when he feels sad or is in grief. Psychiatrists say that crying helps clear out pent-up emotions by releasing hormones and boosting neurotransmitters that reduce stress levels, make the pain hurt less, improves the person’s mood and does not depend on whether that person is a man or a woman! According to a University of South Florida study, crying makes 88.8% of people feel better. A 2011 study of 150 college footballers revealed that the happiest athletes were those who felt comfortable openly expressing their sad emotions.

A study at Tilburg University in The Netherlands shows that both men and women would give more emotional support to someone who was crying, although they judged less positively someone who wept. Another study showed men were liked best when they cried and women when they did not. "Overall, results support the theory that crying is an attachment behaviour designed to elicit help from others,'' say the Dutch researchers. This shows that times are changing the perspectives towards crying and acknowledging it as a gender-free expression of emotions just like laughing and showing anger or jealousy are. Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist at University College of Los Angeles states, “The new enlightened paradigm of what constitutes a powerful man is someone who has the strength and self awareness to cry. These are the people who impress me, not those who put up some macho front of faux-bravado.”

So, what are you waiting for, guys? Let those tears flow freely and openly.