The only aspect of masculinity that is constant is that it is changing constantly. Associating brute strength and stoicism with masculinity has come into fashion in very recent history. Only in the 1850s did crying officially become an expression of emotion reserved only for women. Before then, tears were proof of a man’s sincerity, honesty, and integrity. There was no conflict between the heroism of the famous Achilles and Lancelot and the tears they shed for lost loves and fallen comrades. Yet the same cannot be said for figures of the 20th century, such as Ed Muskie, a politician publicly shamed for the tears he shed at a press conference in the 1970s. Since then, the expectation has changed again, and now it is not unheard for the modern man to cry in the wake of a tragedy or during certain films. The relationship between masculinity and emotion has changed drastically over time, from the bleary-eyed ancient and medieval times, to the dry-eyed 20th century, to a modern version that falls somewhere in the middle, and as society continues farther in the future, the definition will change again.
For thousands of years, men could cry when they were sad, angry, and even disappointed. The evidence of the culture is in the literature from the time periods. In Homer’s Iliad, there is no conflict between the hero’s masculine identity and the emotion he expresses. The Iliad describes Achilles as having “His comrades/Gathered around, weeping, and with them Achilles, /Shedding hot