Guys: It's okay to cry now

With the Oscars just a few days away, an intimate performance can be a game-changer when comes to taking home that golden statue. Hugh Jackman's emotional performance in "Les Miserables" may just earn him his first Oscar, and his fellow nominee Daniel Day Lewis openly admits he cries easily at the movies. 

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Choked-up actors were once the subject of jokey internet memes, but these days their tears are more revered. For reference, see photographer Sam Taylor Wood's recent viral photo series, “Men Crying,” featuring tough-guy actors like Sean Penn and Daniel Craig in various states of emotional distress. The series itself is Oscar-worthy and raises a cultural question beyond the realm of movie magic.

Is public emotion becoming more acceptable for men in general?

Believe it or not, crying was once considered a sign of masculine strength. “Medieval warriors and Japanese samurai cried during times of epic tragedy. In Western culture, a man’s capacity to cry indicated his honesty and integrity. Abraham Lincoln used strategic tears during his speeches,” according to Psych Central.

There's evidence that crying is once again becoming a sign of courage for men in politics— a place where stoicism has long ruled. Speaker of the House John Boehner was christened “Weeper of the House,” for his frequent displays of emotion, and even President Obama has shed a few tears publicly in recent months. 

Generally, people like seeing a man break his straight face on occasion. A study done by Penn State University found that people view men’s tears as a sign of honesty. (Sadly, that same study found women’s tears are considered a sign of weakness.)

For GQ's Julianne Smolinski, who wrote about watching her dad cry over a YouTube video of a soldier reuniting with his beloved dog, the feeling was a little more uncharted. “I have no idea what to do when men cry,” she wrote.

It may be time to start practicing our reaction faces. According to The Good Men Project, men these days are crying about everything from exhaustion, to losing sports teams, and from sappy movies, to books like "Charlotte's Web."

Guys may finally be comfortable enough with their masculinity to break down and that's a good thing. According to Psychology Today, “when people suppress the urge to cry, emotions that would have been expressed through tears are bottled up instead,” leading to conditions such as high blood pressure. One recent study even found that football players who cried had higher self-esteem. Those guys who were “secure enough to shed tears in front of their teammates" were more likely not to buckle under peer pressure.

But for some guys crying in public is still a major hurdle. Maybe it will help them to know that women have their back. In a Cosmopolitan Magazine poll, 99 percent of women agreed that "real men cry." As far as we're concerned, a man who sheds a few tears isn't a crybaby. He's human.

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