Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 07 Oct 2022 Rebooting emotion no ...

Rebooting emotion norms: Laver Cup shows the way

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | VIKRAM SHARMA
Published Oct 8, 2022, 12:00 am IST
Updated Oct 8, 2022, 12:00 am IST
Tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. (Photo: Twitter)
 Tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. (Photo: Twitter)

A brief handshake or a warm hug is what most straight men limit themselves to, be it a get-together with friends or business meetings. The drill is the same while meeting people during sad or emotional moments.

Holding each other’s hands — whatever be the occasion — is not considered masculine, or so people think. If some men do so, they are ridiculed.

So when Tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal sat there, side by side and tearful while holding each other’s hands — the two very classy men, both on and off the courts, sent across a message, rather unintentionally — that men too can get expressive when emotional, even if the world is watching them.

While various studies have shown that men are as emotional as women, it is also true that men who show emotions are often seen as weak. In general, women tend to be more expressive than men, who are believed to express restrictive emotionality.

“In sports, when a men’s team triumphs such as in the World Cup tournament, whether a team loses in the final or wins, tears can often be seen in the players’ eyes. It suggests men also cry be it in sorrow or happiness. In fact, it is perfectly fine to show emotions even if you are a man. And this is certainly, not any stigma or taboo. But, times are changing, so are some of the attributes, and as they say real men do cry,” says relationship expert Shivani Misri Sadhoo.

The term restrictive emotionality is usually, associated with men, the ways in which men generally, cope with their feelings. It states that men tend to lace up the majority of their feelings, a phenomenon called “restrictive emotionality.”

“Men are not at all supposed to display any emotional feelings particularly shedding tears or showing affection openly. If they do, they will be seen as a weak person. Thus, mostly this sort of upbringing forces men not to show any sign of emotional turmoil or excitement,” she says.

It is this stoic attribute that leads to strict control of pain, grief, and vulnerable feelings in men. “In fact, certain health issues crop up in men due to the suppression of emotional feelings for a longer time,” adds Sadhoo.

In several households, irrespective of country or culture, men, right from their childhood are taught that men are supposed to be strong and show any signs of emotional aspect specifically shedding tears or crying and even displaying affection and excitement makes them appear weaker.

A psychic healer and author Tamanna C feels that expression of one’s vulnerability has nothing to do with gender. “While it might be a feminine trait to be vocal about one’s emotions, we must remember that even men do have feminine energies and there are plenty of them who are in touch with their feminine side, just like there are women who are in touch with their masculine side,” she explains.

It’s a healthy balance for a man to be connected to his feminine side and expressing his vulnerability. “It doesn’t make them any less of a man. Infact it only makes them more kind, compassionate and empathetic towards one's own self and others,” says Tamanna.

Also, many feel that it is a myth that women are more emotional than men.  In fact, men are equally emotional as women as per the study’s author Adrian Beltz, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan. In simple words, it is not that men are born with restrictive emotionality and those traits of showing emotions is an act made for women.

Some psychological research suggests that these differences stem primarily from cultural expectations of femininity and masculinity.

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