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62 H E AL TH and their environment. These stereotypes apply most to men in Canada, the United States, England, and Ireland, said McGaughey. Bukowski believes that talks of masculinity should be expressed in terms of how it affects femininity as well. He describes femininity as having to do with heightened sensitivity for others. People who are feminine tend to be more invested in their relationships with others, and tend to place a higher value on other’s needs rather than their own. Caring for others, loyalty, and an attuned sensitivity to the needs of others would be all stereotypical feminine traits. He claims masculinity and femininity aren’t opposites, since people can be hyper-masculine and hyper-feminine at the same time; an androgynous individual. Someone with high masculinity, and low femininity tend to have lower levels of attachment to other people. As a result they tend to be less emotional. “It’s not masculinity itself per se that is the issue,” he said. “Instead, it is masculinity in conjunction with low femininity. You can be hyper-masculine and very much inclined to express or engage in crying if it’s the case that you’re also high in femininity. But I don’t want to say that people who cry a lot are necessarily high in femininity.” Lafrance claims that a difficulty to express emotions negatively impacts relationships. Since often men can’t express how they feel, their partners are likely to feel they can’t have a complete and fulfilling relationships. There are very few settings where men can express their emotions, says

Bukowski and Lafrance. Men are socially permitted to cry at events like funerals, but even then they need to be very controlled, and not act out for too long. These pressures start in the household Lafrance said. There are strong cues that come from both parents and siblings on how one should react to difficult situations. “Often they’re very subtle and banal, but they teach men either directly or indirectly that manifesting emotion is a bad idea,” he said. These can come from being told on a routine basis to just pull yourself together. There are also explicit commands that make clear that boys “don’t do stuff like this.” Even if parents don’t discourage their sons from showing emotion, they still have a whole society that tells them that if they don’t find a way to keep their emotions under wrap, they will be socially penalized. “They will be penalized by being ostracized from groups of friends, to being singled out by macho teachers,” said Lafrance. “There are all sorts of ways our society punishes boys for not being stoic, emotionless people we would want them to be, apparently.” However, according to Bukowski, Lafrance, and Conway, claiming that all

cises to help them access their emotions. “I find that my male students jump at the opportunity to do that sometimes more than my female students,” she said. “It’s because they’re given permission, a safe space to play different roles, and they get to access parts of themselves that they might not be able to in their everyday life.” She gets her students to do breathing and sound exercises, and the exercises allow them to open up and cry on command. “I don’t know how many times I’ve done simple breathing exercises or deep humming [to try] to open all the resonators in the body and I have students crying,” she said. “They’re lying on the floor, eyes closed, and they’re just breathing and all of a sudden they start to cry because they’re releasing something profound that is connected to their voice.” She claims that the minute you open up that channel, you’re opening up the pathway to expressing emotion. You’re not deciding which emotion that is; you’re just letting it happen. Lafrance thinks that “it’s not that men don’t want to change, but a lot of them don’t know where to start.” The Centre de ressources pour homme de Montr al is an organization in the


men have a hard time crying and that women don’t is a gross generalization. There’s a lot of variability. Some women can’t cry, some men can, and viceversa. That being said, many men relate to the struggle. Acting coach Liz Valdez says she hasn’t found a divide between her students who identify as male or female—they both have a hard time expressing emotion in front of each other, as we live in a society where you are not allowed to do that. In her classes, she gets students to do exer-

Plateau for men who need help and support. They offer services like psychosocial follow-ups, group intervention, one-on-one therapy as well as support groups where men can share their feelings and vent about difficult experiences on a weekly basis. It’s a safe space where everyone present can offer advice and support to one another, regardless of the issues someone is facing. The group, led by a therapist or trained counsellor, also encourages people to form long-lasting

Volume 38, Issue 3  
Volume 38, Issue 3