It was easier in my dad's day. Back then, the instruction was simple: big boys don't cry, stiff upper lip and all that. Then along came Gazza at Italia 1990, closely followed by a swathe of New Man editorials, and suddenly it was our very salty tears, and our ability to shed them, that madeth us real men. Open up our hearts (and tear ducts), prevailing wisdom had it, and we would be reconstructed, modern men, able to show our True Feelings.
Floodgates duly unlocked, the past couple of decades have seen men over-emoting like actors in Bollywood musicals. And just last week came three fresh examples. First, the newly re-elected President of the United States was caught blubbing like a baby while thanking workers the morning after the day before at his campaign headquarters in Chicago. Later that day, Rod Stewart was spotted hanging on to his Handy Andies after his team, Celtic, had beaten the mighty Barcelona in the Champions League. And then, the following night, the footballer Fabrice Muamba was overcome while thanking Tottenham fans for having supported him when he suffered a heart attack on their team's pitch while playing for Bolton Wanderers in March.
What is most interesting about all these PDEs (public displays of emotion), is that all were tears of triumph rather than tragedy. Sports tears. To the victor the snivels, and so on. The message seems to be that it's OK for men to cry, as long as it's not at anything that's actually sad.
A confession – I myself have been known to shed a tear or two: an X Factor back-story here, a bit of Flight of the Conchords-style dirt in my eye there. But enough is enough. After 20-odd years of grown men weeping at the slightest provocation, it's time to put this particular genie back in the bottle.
New Man be gone. The days of thinking that what women want from us is that we act more like them are surely over. Perhaps, instead of growing moustaches in November, someone should start a campaign to keep tears and testosterone as far apart as possible. An end to the endless news stories of grown men weeping? I for one wouldn't shed a tear.
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