It’s happened. The last nail has been hammered into the coffin of the stiff upper lip. For the second time in a week, the man formerly known as ‘No Drama Obama’ turned on the tap on Friday. The world first saw tears dripping down the US President’s face at his final campaign rally in Iowa; then it watched him tearing up while thanking his campaign staff and volunteers in Chicago. This from a man who’s often been criticised for lacking emotion. Just shows that no one’s safe from the teary trend.
In this age of the sensitive new man, even hard-baked cookies crumble sooner rather than later. Remember Russian President Vladimir Putin—yes, the toughie with the inscrutable expression and fondness for hunting and judo? He shed copious tears on winning a difficult election back in March.
And now we have James Bond joining the club. The sudden death of M in Skyfall wasn’t as shocking as the government-sponsored assassin’s blubbering at her demise. The national outpouring following Princess Diana’s death back in 1997 had prepared us for a new Britain that has abandoned its stiff upper lip in favour of a trembling one, but surely its most famous secret agent should be exempt from the epidemic. It’s only spies and ladies that 007 is licenced to kill; not long-prized notions about restraint and decorum and the belief that strong men don’t weep.
But now, they all seem to. Even the man playing the part is infected. Daniel Craig, who has been acting as James Bond for a while now, says he wept after hearing the film’s theme song by Adele for the first time. “From the opening bars itself”, the Skyfall song filled him with emotion and tears. Would old-school Bond Sean Connery have been so shaken, or stirred? Actually, one can’t say. Elderly rockstar Rod Stewart was spotted doing damage control with a hankie the other night after the Scottish football club Celtic, which he supports, beat super-club Barcelona. Soon, I fear, we’ll have men dissolving in tears over a beautiful moon or, maybe, the buttery feel of a new silk kurta.
Because turning on the tap is working well for the guys. No sooner did Obama begin swatting away his tears that everyone in the room erupted into applause. Putin was mocked by some old-fashioned rivals but his standing with women went up. Stewart’s face-dabbing is being explained as a reaction to the gallantry of sport. The crying would have probably earned even better dividends if it happened in the privacy of a bedroom. Women worldwide have professed to find a man “who is not afraid to cry” very, very sexy.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the other way around. Men not only dislike women’s tears, they’re sexually turned off by it. It’s a scientific fact.
In a paper published in Science early this year, two neuroscientists from Israel presented evidence that odourless chemical compounds in a woman’s “weeping” tears (as opposed to “eye-protecting” ones) actually squash sexual desire in men. Apparently, one whiff of his lady’s tear-stained cheeks can dampen the lover’s libido faster than a cold shower. Testosterone production is momentarily halted and the man instantly finds the female face in front of him “less arousing”.
Could life be more unfair? The discrimination is enough to make a woman cry.