By Henrylito D. Tacio
Photo: Pierre Bourrier/Getty Images
“JESUS wept.” With this statement, as recorded in John 11:35, the myth that only women cry has been shattered. Yes, men do cry. In fact, Jesus is not the only man who cried in public.
Hollywood film actor Patrick Swayze, in the middle of a 1988 televised interview with Barbara Walters, expressed regret that his father had not lived to see him become a star in his own right.
As he recalled his dad with fondness, the actor who starred in Dirty Dancing and Ghost and burst into tears. “It’s like a water faucet when I talk about him,” he explained later on, “because I have so many things I wanted to say to him.”
American football player Dexter Manley cried in public twice. The first one was in 1989 before the US Senate Subcommittee on Education, telling his experience on growing up with dyslexia, a learning disability.
“I felt I was normal,” he said, with tears in rolling in his eyes, “but I was told I was dumb and stupid.” The second time was when, during a press conference, he failed a drug test that forced his retirement from football.
Another religious leader who cried in public unabashedly was Jimmy Swaggart. On February 21, 1988, the American evangelist, tears streaming down his face, confessed before a crowd of 6,000 and on television to having committed “a sin,” later revealed to be the hiring of prostitutes.
In 1972, a lot of Filipinos probably cried when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. On the other side of the world that year, American senator Edmund Muskie was the leading contender for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
However, his campaign was derailed when angered by a vicious attack on his wife by New Hampshire newspaper editor William Loeb, and he began weeping during a speech. It was later revealed that the newspaper attack was part of a “dirty tricks” campaign orchestrated by Richard Nixon’s reelection committee.
Let’s talk more about Nixon. During a 1977 television interview, he told David Frost, “I never cry – except in public.” His most famous public weep occurred in 1952 after he made his notorious “Checkers speech,” and Dwight David Eisenhower decided to allow him to remain on the Republic ticket as the vice-presidential candidate.
Watching this performance, Nixon’s college drama coach, Albert Upton, who had taught the future politician how to cry, remarked, “Here goes my actor.”
Throughout literature, crying has been enshrined as romantic, good, and noble. Charles Dickens assures us: “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.”
According to Dr. Troy Bedinghaus, in an article for the website verywellhealth.com, tears are produced in the lacrimal glands (tear ducts) that are in the outer corners of the eyelids. These glands produce tears from the blood plasma, selecting some components but not others.
For the uninformed, the basic components of tears are water, electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, magnesium, and calcium), proteins (lysozyme, lactoferrin, and lipocalin), lipids, and mucins.
So, what happens when you cry? Just under the eyelids are small glands that produce fluids that cleanse and lubricate our eyes. When triggered by our emotions, the involuntary nervous system may signal these glands to produce excess fluid or tears.
There are many reasons why people cry. Our various emotions produce sensations that give us the urge to cry for joy, sorrow, anger, frustration, depression, bitterness, disappointment, failure or success, and the like.
“Crying is a wonderful release – especially if you know what you’re crying about,” says Dr. Robert Jaffe, an American marriage and family therapist in Sherman Oaks, California.
If your world is a little bit stressful, yell or cry. It’s not always possible in the typical office, but in some situations – a private office or your car, for instance – a purely emotional outburst is perfectly acceptable. Screaming or crying, says Dr. Emmet Miller, medical director of the Cancer Support and Education Center in Menlo Park, California, and one of America’s recognized experts on stress, “can provide a release for the emotions generating the stress you’re feeling.”
History has stories of famous people shedding tears dictated by their emotions. emotions.
Fifth Roman emperor Nero (Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus), remembered for his cruelties, unstable character, and persecution of Christians, reportedly shed crocodile tears. That was when he put to death his mother, and also when he murdered his wife, Octavia.
American baseball player, at a press conference to announce his retirement in 1989, tried to read a prepared statement, but broke down and cried when he said, “Some eighteen years ago, I left Dayton, Ohio, with two very bad knees and a dream to become a major-league baseball player. I thank God the dream came true.”
But why is crying often associated with women and not men?
According to psychologists, women cry more often than men and for physiological as well as psychological reasons. “Women have a different set of hormones, which make them more weepy,” explains Dr. Dominic McAleer, an American psychiatrist.
“But psychologically, many women have a close relationship with very young children, and must use a lot of emotive, expressive cues to get their message across. The man, on the other hand, has to be reserved,” he continued. “As hunter and fighter he couldn’t afford to cry – he had to see what he was doing. Men traditionally can’t afford to break down, no matter what is happening inside. This internal stress is one reason that many die of high blood pressure and coronaries.”
Studies have shown that men who do not weep are more susceptible to maladies believed to have an emotional cause. Skin eruptions like weeping eczema, hay fever, colitis, digestive upsets, and a dozen other nuisance may all, in fact, be the psychosomatic expressions of the frustrated need to cry in men.
Clearly, many things move people to tears. They cry over military marches. They weep at the noble futility of Don Quixote. And they shed tears of eternal gratitude when a man does finally reach an unreachable star.