‘Be a man’: Stop Telling Men To Ignore Their Emotions

If you are a true follower of the James Bond Franchise, this may slightly trigger you. But can you picture Bond in the movie ‘Spectre‘ shedding a tear during the iconic ‘Train fight scene’? After all, Bond got his head slammed multiple times, thrashed through the walls of the train compartment and even got  brutally kicked in the chest. He woke up like it meant nothing. As though an ant bit him.

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Even though these movies have such a global reach and fan-following, why can’t we just watch a scene where James Bond is crying out loud in pain? The construct of society and the character portrayal of the ‘Hero’ in movies has brainwashed our mindsets, that we can’t picture a man crying or displaying their emotions.

They just gulp the pain and move on.  It has been this way for decades now. Men have been conveniently placed in the category of a protective figure but in the process, we forget to protect their emotions and their mental health.

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Take Chris Rock for instance, when he appears on screen, its delightful. His humour is so contagious that we cannot stop appreciating the man he is. But behind the mask of that captivating smile and his composed nature, Chris Rock has always used humour to give a reality check to people. In one of his stand-ups back in 2018, Rock stated that, “Only women, children, and dogs are loved unconditionally. A man is only loved under the condition he provide something.” Its about time that we don’t stop at just laughing on his jokes and start mapping ways to discuss men’s mental health.

Its 2020 and mental health has been finally recognised as a distortion in our social well-being. MentalHealth.gov stated; ‘Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.’ And this must be applicable to every human being, including men who are always asked to remain the shield and toss away emotions.

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Even the man playing Captain America, the superhero the world looks up to has battled severely with anxiety and trepidation. So much so that, Chris Evans was willing to give up such a famous and inspiring role. He understands the value of opening up and stating out loud when mental health affects you immensely. He stressed on the notion to reach out and gain professional help. In an interview with Menshealth.com, Chris mentioned that,

 “I do struggle. I get anxiety about certain things and press, things like that. I went to therapy. I thought, ‘I’ll talk to my therapist! See what they have to say!’”

Why is it necessary for a man to fit the unbreakable tradition and descriptions of hypermasculinization? Much of their behavioral traits date back to their childhood conditioning. When little boys are given trucks as toys, forced to pick ‘blue-coloured’ clothes or bottle up their emotions; society’s preferred notion of masculinity is forced upon them. Society’s expectations have completely deprived a man of his own interests and even reconciling with his own emotions.

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There are certain movies that have come a long way in terms of challenging the mentality that men aren’t supposed to cry. 2018’s biggest blockbuster, Avengers: Infinity War had an emotional moment between Iron Man (Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr.) and Peter Parker aka. Spidey (played by Tom Holland) when the latter says, “I don’t want to go” before he died. This teared up fans across the world and even those critics that are always so harsh. Iron man held himself responsible for the evil awakening and starts tearing up on the big screen.

This is an emotional scene worth appreciating. There is always an aspect in life that makes you uneasy, here it’s how Iron Man could not let go off his favourite pal, Spider-Man. But the beautiful shade to this is the liberation one feels whilst coming in contact with their deepest emotions. And to face that, gender does not have to be the determining factor.

Mental health is not steady for all. For some it may vary over multiple scenarios in their life and for many, it can be a tormenting experience. Beyond Blue found that, ‘On average, one in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.’ And this has to be deliberately discussed without filters.

Though research has been conducted and movies are finally re-shaping their ideology of the male lead, there tends to be a humorous factor attached to men’s mental health. When they see a man cry, it resorts to unlimited amusement and generating entertainment, in the form of memes or trolls. A simple picture and text can make the entire sphere of mankind go gaga over it! But there is something so frustrating and unacceptable about these memes.

When Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith’s discussed their relationship on her Facebook talk show, “Red Table Talk‘, they discovered some deep-rooted secrets they had kept from each other. When Jada referenced to her relationship with singer August Alsina as her “entanglement,” it became a subject of numerous jokes that went viral on the internet. While Jada was sharing her secrets, Will looked distraught and had a breakdown during the show.

This was just the right amount of scoop needed for the internet and seconds later, memes on Will Smith were unstoppable. Everyone conveniently ignored the fact that the man lost control of his composed nature and let his inhibitions out. Men’s mental health still remains a joke to many. And the memes are evidence to that.

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It is not hard at all to be courteous and understanding when one encounters the lash of mental health. Especially men, who are often taught to bottle up their emotions, it affects them at such an intricate level that the more we push the societal agenda, it can completely push them in the doom of depression. Though few celebrities, like singer Halsey who stood against the trolls on Twitter, men’s mental health still remains far from reaching the real world.

Its about time that men’s mental health is spoken about properly and some pressure is lifted off their chest. Criticising men for crying should not be termed as a ‘sissy’ move, rather start acknowledging that they have a mind, body and soul that needs nurturing.

So be more vocal about men and their mental health, let it not be a mere meme but a revolution that can normalise these phrases like ‘You don’t have to be a Man’, ‘Why Man up?’ or ‘Men do cry’!

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