does crying at work make you weak?
On the 2nd of this month, Neil Mitchell took to Twitter to share this gem: ‘about to do the chat room on Nine. Any views on women who cry at work? Weakness or tactic?’ This upset quite a few people, for good reason. After all, weakness and tactic are both very negative words with a lot of connotation attached to them.
Firstly let’s look at weakness. Neil’s idea that to express emotion is somehow ‘wrong’ or ‘weak’ is an incredibly destructive one for both men and women. I have seen an equal number of men and women cry during my lifetime, and never thought it was because they were weak. It was simply because they were upset- something that I’m sure we are all familiar with. Crying it is a perfectly healthy way to express emotion.
As well as this, implying that crying is something that only women do is incredibly misogynistic. It reinforces that stereotype that women are emotional because they are somehow not as ‘strong’ and ‘can’t cope’ like men can. It is also sexist in that it further reinforces that idea that men don’t and shouldn’t show emotion.
Now, I’m not a guy, but I have this crazy idea that no matter what sex we are, everyone on this planet experiences emotion. Some of those emotions are not pleasant, but can be lightened a bit by letting them out – whether through words or tears. Holding in those emotions and pretending they don’t exist can be terrible for our mental health. It can lead to a feeling of isolation, health issues (due to chronic tension) and negative coping strategies.
It is not weak to show emotion, and I can’t wait for a time when people like Neil are in the minority and everyone, both men and women, feel comfortable that they can show their natural human emotions without being judged by archaic standards.
Secondly, to say that women are using their emotions as a tactic to get what they want is downright disgusting. At first I thought Mr Mitchell might be one of the very few who still buys into the idea that women use tears to manipulate men, but a quick Google search assured me that this wasn’t the case
People cry at work, in relationships, and for no reason at all, because things can be frustrating, hard, or just downright suck sometimes – I certainly have never met anyone over the age of five who has used tears to get their own way. I don’t know when or why crying started to be seen as such a negative thing, nor why it has been associated with weak or manipulative personalities, though I have this sneaking suspicion that sexism and gender-stereotyping is heavily involved.
People need to realise that crying isn’t something that only women do. It is a normal part of human behaviour, and until we as a society accept and embrace this, men and women are going to suffer needlessly- both in the workplace and in general life.