Hey all, I've been thinking a great deal recently about how others perceive or interpret crying. How socially many folks feel shame about crying in public, or think that crying is a sign of weakness (male or female). Or how there's a common lack of acceptance for men crying. Or the way that some use their crying to emotionally blackmail partners, friends or family.
My psychologist, a very wise man, told me that tears are a sign of strong emotions, heavy emotional work (like perspiration )
I myself will be forever haunted by my ex-roomate's ability to reduce me to tears, and her absolute conviction that my sobbing in a corner indicated my utter fragility.
How do you feel when you cry? In public? In private? Why do you think you feel as you do?
How do you feel about others crying? Does that depend on their sex?
Have your own tears ever been used against you as a supposed sign of weakness?
What are your thoughts?
-------------------- I LOVE SCARLETEEN. This site is better than sliced bread! Posts: 83 | From: Northeast | Registered: Jul 2005
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I cant actually remember a time when I have cried in public. My family always taught me it was wrong, and it let people know you were weak. I've always believed it meant you felt a very very strong emotion, but for some reason, I still dont cry in public. I can walk around for hours feeling incredibly upset, but if there's people around I 'cant' cry (apart from once, when watching Dumbo on a sleepover). I've always thought it so much more powerful to see a man crying. I think it is because of the lack of acceptance, but also the fact that even though men and women are considered 'equals'...some part of my subconcious still wants my man to be able to protect me from anything and defend me to the death. Which is where the lack of acceptance comes from, I suppose.
-------------------- How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct. Posts: 28 | From: England | Registered: Apr 2006
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I've cried in public a few times - not too many, since it just plain takes a LOT to make me cry. (Heh, the last time I cried at a movie was watching "Charlotte's Web" when I was five.) I don't mind crying in public or around other people, though...except I'm usually worried that my sobbing and sniffling will be not-too-pleasant to listen to. Sometimes I actually wish I cried more often or more easily - there've been a few times, watching a sad movie, for instance, when everyone around me is in tears and I'm just sitting there; usually it results in me being called "insensitive", which really hurts.
Guys crying? Doesn't bother me. My boyfriend, for instance, cries much more easily than I do, and it's never occurred to me to see it as a sign of weakness. It's just how his emotions are expressed a lot of the time. No big deal. He will NOT cry around anyone else, though, no matter how much he's hurting; he's just always been told that crying in public was indeed a sign of weakness, and crying was something to be done at home.
Wow, what a disjointed post...lots of things to talk about I guess - great topic, Juniata!
-------------------- "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy Posts: 5799 | From: Canada/Australia | Registered: Sep 2004
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I've cried in public quite a few times, but for two main reasons: A) I cry when I get very angry B) I cry when I have a panic attack
The first is normally restricted to home, since my sister, love her though I do, can be very emotionally, and sometimes physically abusive. I get so angry sometimes that I start crying. In the rare occasions that I fight back, I cry because I hate the thought of hurting her. In family fights, I'm always the first to start crying, and when no one understands I'm crying because I'm angry, not because I'm hurt, I get angrier, so I cry harder. I've tried explaining it, but once I start crying, all of a sudden it's 'Poor baby, maybe you better leave the arguing since you can't handle it'.
For panic attacks, I've only had a few, but almost every one I've had has been at work. Usually I'm able to hide in the backroom and delicately let my manager know that I need a few minutes, but the first time I had one, I started sobbing and screaming in frustration in the front of the store, and wouldn't let anyone come near me, until they called my Dad to pick me up. Luckily, it was late at night, and we didn't have any customers.
I normally feel ashamed of myself for crying in public- if it's something obviously sad (like say, crying a little while reading, watching a sad movie, or in a private conversation) I feel less embarrassed, but having a panic attack in public makes me feel even worse, because it's like announcing to the world that I can't cope. It's self-defeating, really, since when I panic, the last thing I need is to feel an overwhelming crush of shame.
For men crying, I can't stand it. I hate seeing men cry- I can't see or hear a man cry without crying myself. It's probably because my strongest life influence is my father, and I've only seen him cry a handful of times. Each time, it felt like the world had turned upside-down, as something awful had just happened, and my normally cheerful, life-loving, strong father breaks down in tears in front of me. The first time I saw it was when my mother died, then when his sister died, when his niece (his last living relative) died, and when his special dog died. Each event was earth-shattering to me anyway without the added sight of him crying. Seeing a man cry more than a few tears always gives me that earth-shattering feeling, like everything has been thrown into chaos and there's no sense in the universe anymore. Even as a kid, if a man started crying or screaming in a movie, I had to leave the room- I just can't stand to listen.
-------------------- 'My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me. 'Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak. 'What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? 'I never know what you are thinking. Think.' -T.S. Eliot The Waste Land Posts: 71 | From: US | Registered: Mar 2006
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I cry when I feel it is the right thing to do. Biologically, it is the right response to significant emotional or biological response. Sometimes I cry in public - I just toss my hair over my eyes, or put my head down and pretend to read. If anyone notices, they don't care. When I get really bad I'll create a safe-spot for myself (Lots of really interesting stuff can be done with door-handles and dental floss. I've closed of an emergancy exit at my school for 30 minutes or so) and A) Sing, or B) Listen to music. That plus some rational, logical, or ocasionally forced, thought and or optimism usually makes me better.
Generally, I don't feel any shame about crying in public. It upsets other people, however, so when I do (perhaps a dozen times a year?), I simply shake my head, my hair falls over my eyes, and you'd have to be looking to see. Lets see...last time I cried in public was hearing Romeo Delair speak on the Rwanda Genocide and the current Genocide in Darfur. Auditorium, sitting beside two good friends, 150 people...
Edit: I have a very interesting article about crying in the workplace. It is in my english textbook, and has some hilarious and cynical lines...
I think, unfortunately, that a woman crying is often seen as frivolous. Because we are taught that crying is more acceptable, when we do cry, it's less likely to be seen as a response to a "real" emotion.
I don't cry very often-- I HATE crying in public, though it has happened, one time to the extreme. Unfortunately many people seem to think that the times that I am most upset about something are the times that I'm experiencing the least "worthy" emotions-- that I shouldn't be upset. One thing I love about my partner is that he takes me seriously when I'm upset and emotional-- on the occaisions that I do get emotional about something, he doesn't see that emotion as detracting from how important it is.
I hate seeing either of my parents cry. In addition to not wanting to see people that I care about upset, it also makes me feel very insecure.
Posts: 2710 | From: Australia | Registered: Jun 2000
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I've cried in probably %90 of all the movies I've ever seen, and I don't have a problem with that. That is, however, the only time I'm okay with crying in front of people. When I'm crying because of serious emotions I'm feeling, I prefer to shut myself up in my room and deal with it on my own.
When other people cry, I feel very, very uncomfortable. I'm generally a sympathetic person, but I have issues communicating with people. So, whenever people cry or are feeling bad, I have this desperate feeling like I want to comfort them, but I have no idea what to say, and I'm too uncomfortable with physical contact to hug them or something. It's hard.
Posts: 406 | From: California | Registered: Jun 2005
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I try not to cry in public because it makes me feel weak and because I hate drawing attention, but when I do cry it's either because I am having a panic attack or because I am really angry and frustrated. Though I can generally manage to pretend I'm fine until I can find the nearest bathroom and lock myself in. The only times I cry and public and absolutely don't care is when I'm saying Goodbye to my boyfriend.
As for other people crying, I just tend to feel embarrased, no matter their gender. If I don't know them, I'm naturally curious why they're making such a spectacle of themselves, but otherwise I don't care much. However, if I do know them, I want to be able to do something to help and I tend to be really inept at that. So I just end up standing there and being useless.
What really bothers me is to see my father cry. My mother cries a lot, and while I do feel bad for her, I can deal with that. But I've only seen my father cry twice, both times at a funeral, and it just made me feel like this must be the end of the world. My father is usually the one who's got it all covered and knows what to do, and seeing him reduced to tears frightened the hell outta me.
[ 05-05-2006, 02:35 AM: Message edited by: September ]
-------------------- Johanna Scarleteen Volunteer
"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand Posts: 9192 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005
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September, I feel the same way about crying in public. Except for when I was young, (and even then I tried not to cry in front of other people) it has always been very rare for people to see me cry (and I'm a girl by the way).
I don't like watching people cry either, especially guys. I feel bad about that, though, because crying is perfectly natural and it's not something that either gender should be embarrassed about. I guess it's just the unfortunate way that society has affected me. I mean, if I see someone crying, I won't make a big deal about it and I'll try to comfort them if I know them, but it still makes me a little uncomfortable.
Posts: 11 | From: here | Registered: May 2006
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"How Wise is it to Separate Our Emotions from the Rest of Our Being" - Bronwen Wallace. I don't think I can retype this word for word without breaking some sort of copy right laws. It can be found on page 406 of "Echoes", Fiction, Media and Non-Fiction, by the Oxford University Press (English Textbook).
The story starts with how she was on an arts council deciding which applications deserved funding. One of the applications was a video regarding sexual abuse, and eventually she cried. She worried that other jury members were pressured by that. It quotes Paula Bern, saying "You've got to be calloused and tough if you're a woman in power. If you can't keep your emotiosn under control, you shouldn't run for ublic office or expect to be in high level management."
It then questions the value of refusing to aknowledge emotions, and keeping them "under control". She differentiates between recognizing how we feel and expressing it appropriately, and disregarding and refusing emotions to appear in control. She feels these are often confused. For example "Studies of violent, abusive men, for example, show that they are often incapable of recognizing and expressing such feelings as fear, sadness, or vulnerabililty." She argues these emotions are not controlled, but mis-expressed as anger.
Then she raises the question "What's wrong with emotions being part of decisions anyway?"
She looks at where attempting to separate rationality from emotion has got us. Kingston, Ontario (where she lived when writing this) is one of the most highly polluted areas in North Armerica. The provincial government (Ontario), does not have any idea how many trees the forest industry can safely cut down without destroying the ecology. 900 billion is spent annually on arms , and 40000 children die every day preventable causes - primarily starvation, dehydration, or derrivatives there of.
"I would argue that this state of affairs has grown out of emotions such as fear, greed and anger. I would also argue that it is largely the result of decisions made by people who cnsider themselves rational human beings whose ability to make such decisions is unclouded by "dangerous" emotions".
I agree, to an extent, and totally stand by that. Any business man that can make a deal to employ sweatshop labour in Nicarauga to maximize profit is somebody I don't want in power - that man has no sorrow, no sympathy. And regardless of your stance, crying is often an expression of just those emotions.
-------------------- 19, male, interested in Sadomasochism (BDSM) and some bisexual tendancies. Posts: 157 | From: Canada | Registered: Jan 2006
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I tend to cry a lot, but mostly when I'm alone. And lately, with the end of my senior year winding down and college coming up in just four weeks, I've had more tendencies to cry. I usually cry at night, when I'm alone. I don't like crying in front of other people because it creates an awkward situation, where they try to use a bunch of soft words to cheer you up, when all you really want to do is cry and get it out of your system.
Once, something happened with my boyfriend, and I was really upset at him for it. It wasn't so much what he did as it was the timing and the stressful week I had been having. I started to cry, and all he did was wrap his arms around me and let me cry....he didn't even say anything. This, to me, was the best response, because I felt safe and didn't feel pressured to cheer up right away. That's another reason I hate to cry in public -- usually EVERYONE around you has to ask you what's wrong, and they feel compelled to make you happy when it's really just a good time to be sad and cry it out.
I don't mind when guys cry. They have every right to cry as much as girls. I remember one of the rare times I saw my dad cry, I wasn't that disturbed or upset by it. I knew he needed to cry. His favorite uncle had just died, and it was his way of expressing how much he loved him. I don't know....I'm just really understanding of the need to cry, since I do it so much myself.
P.S.The only time I felt alright crying in public was at band camp when we had Senior Speeches, because it was just a time for everyone to be emotional. So I guess I feel safe crying when everyone else is crying with me, but not when i'm at school or work, ect.
I'll bawl around my family if I need to, but that's it. Even when I broke an arm three years ago, in public, I didn't cry.
I learned in high school that others perceived it as a sign of weakness, and thereafter I didn't like the feelings that I associated with crying. I don't cry when I'm alone either, because I identify it with emotional instability.
Of course, that attitude is not particularly healthy. But now that I walk around in armor (clank clank) I find it difficult to take it off, even around people who I'm close to. I haven't ever cried in front of a boyfriend either.
My older brother cries when he gets really really upset. And my dad always gets teary eyed at the slightest bit of sappiness in movies. So I don't have issues with men who cry - I think it makes them healthier.
Posts: 455 | From: New York, NY | Registered: Apr 2005
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quote:Originally posted by Saint_Sithney: I've cried in public quite a few times, but for two main reasons: A) I cry when I get very angry B) I cry when I have a panic attack
These are the main two reasons i cry in public too. It is rarely out of just anger though. If i'm angry i cry after wards when i'm coming down from it and then i tend to be somewhere private anyway.
I don't like crying in public. Generally because it shows i am angry. And i like it even less if i have a panic attack and cry. I am loud and hard to control when i have panic attacks especially if i've been standing up just before i collapse. I tend to kick my feet out and try to fight off whoever is helping me if i don't immediately recognise their voice (as i very often cannot remember where i was or who i was with or what the circumstances are before i collapse, or pass out, i am very easily frightened by my panic attacks) I hate doing that in public. I don't mind so much my friends at college seeing me have a panic attack as they've seen it all before, but i don't like the younger kids to see me panic and i hate it when i am out someplace. I had a panic attack in November in Waterloo station in London whilst on a trip to france with school and i hated it even more than usual because there were alot of tourists and foreigners and other people around, some of whom were staring which upset me even more and my teachers and friends felt the need to form a protective barrier around me so i couldn't see people staring. The same also happened in Disney land in Paris, again on a school trip, and in Manchester airport last summer with my family.
I do not have a problem with crying if it is in private however, as i see it as a good way of releasing the pent up emotions.
If i see someone else crying in public i often feel concern in case something is seriously wrong, however i do not always want to approach in case they become violent or do not want my help.
Posts: 228 | Registered: Feb 2005
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Great questions. They really made me think. When I see someone crying, I often feel symathetic towards them. This, I guess, is why I feel ashamed to cry in public. The only times that I remember crying in public were when I found out I had lost a friend in an accident, and when I broke my ankle. I guess it's because I don't want sympathy- even if there's nothing wrong with it. I wish I was strong enough though, to be able to cry in front of people. There's nothing weak about crying. It seems like people seem to accept it and understand it when someone's physically hurt, but not at all when it's emotional.
Posts: 7 | From: strawberry fields forever | Registered: Jun 2006
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I find it hard to cry in public. I usually leave crying time to alone time. I find it most comforting by my aunts grave. I sit there and tears fall automatically, no matter the mood I am in.
Also, in my grandmother's driveway behind the big tree. I sit in my car with my music on and express my feelings. I don't always cry, but I think about what is bothering me and sort things out in my head.
I find it hard to cry at funerals, unless it was something tramatizing like the suicide of my aunt or ex boyfriend, or the agonizing 3 day sit by my grandmother as she took her few last breaths of life.
But I have seen many of my friends pass and been to many more funerals than most people I know will see in a life time, and even though I feel a great deal of sadness, I can't cry.
I get the movie deal , too. Some movies make tears weld up, but not often.
When the men close to me cry, I hurt deeply. Especially when it's my boyfriend, my father, my grandfather or my cousin Jay. I see how tough my father acts, but when he is depressed (and he gets that way quite often living with my mother) and it is the two of us, he gets tears in his eyes. I can't explain the pain I feel.
When my grandfather cries, it's the same. I want to hug him but I want to walk away at the same time. I hate seeing them in that situation. There are no words to say to make them feel any better and that, I guess, makes me feel guilty.
If I see someone crying, I get tears in my eyes, too. I sort of shake them off, but they are there.
I really don't have any other effect when men cry. I don't see it being any different then women crying. They are people, too, and have emotions, too. Why can't they cry, too?
-------------------- And I say thank you for the scars And the guilt and the pain Every tear I've never cried Has sealed your fate. Did you take me for a fool or were you just too blind to see that every effort made has failed and there is no destroying me? Atreyu Posts: 366 | From: West Virginia | Registered: Dec 2005
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