Breaking Taboos: Boys Cry and Women Fart


In our society, certain topics remain taboo, whispered behind closed doors, while we discuss others openly. Two topics that ignite reactions are the “unnecessary” tears of a boy and the unexpected phenomenon of a girl breaking wind.


From a young age, many boys learn to suppress their emotions, to be strong and stoic. It’s common to hear phrases such as “stop being a girl” or “man up”.  Many people consider crying a sign of weakness or vulnerability, traits traditionally discouraged in men. Therefore, many boys believe that shedding tears is unacceptable or even shameful.


On the other hand, many males associate flatulence, or farting with humour, and encourage it with much cheering. Unlike for females and the persistent stereotype that women don’t fart. At the very best, they don’t do it in public. This stereotype stems from cultural expectations of femininity, which says women should be dainty, graceful, and discreet about bodily functions. Of course, the reality is that everyone, regardless of gender, passes gas. It’s a natural bodily function caused by the digestion process, and holding it in can lead to discomfort or even pain. While there may be differences in the frequency or volume of flatulence between individuals, there is no scientific basis for attributing this bodily function to a specific gender.




The Damage of Women Don’t Fart


Such assertions disregard the biological reality that everyone, regardless of gender, experiences bodily functions. By denying or dismissing women’s ability to fart, society invalidates their bodily autonomy and perpetuates a culture of shame and embarrassment surrounding natural bodily processes. This can lead to feelings of discomfort and embarrassment for women when they experience wind, as they may feel pressure to conceal or suppress a normal bodily function. The myth of female flatulence perpetuates the idea that women should adhere to unrealistic standards of femininity, further restricting their freedom to express themselves authentically. Research shows 10% of all teen girls will experience an eating disorder. It would come as no surprise to think that the cause for some young girls is the desperation to stop any digestion related wind. The discomfort of holding in gas is greater than the discomfort of hunger.


It’s easy to assume that all eating disorders have body image at the core. Many girls may not even realise they have an eating disorder, because they’re simply trying to stop their body doing something they get told it shouldn’t do. It’s important to consider the implications of teaching a girl to hold in her wind and instead let her know she is human with normal human functioning.




The Effect of Boys Don’t Cry


The societal expectation for men to suppress their emotions has profound effects on their mental and emotional well-being. Internalising this notion from a young age conditions men to hide their vulnerabilities and mask their feelings. This suppression can lead to a sense of isolation and emotional detachment, as men struggle to express themselves authentically. Over time, repressed emotions may manifest in harmful ways, such as increased stress, anxiety, or even depression. Additionally, the inability to process and release emotions can strain relationships, as communication becomes hindered, compromising genuine connection.


The pressure to conform to this rigid gender norm deprives men of the opportunity to fully engage with their emotional experiences, and perpetuates a cycle of emotional repression that undermines mental health and well-being. The suicide gap between males and females is widely publicised. The most recent figures published by the ONS (2022) show male suicide rates are three times higher than female. There is no doubt that the boys don’t cry culture is a huge contributor to this. Regardless of how many safe spaces there are for men to cry and express their emotions, it’s not easy to do after a lifetime of suppression.


Challenging Stereotypes


Ultimately, challenging these stereotypes is essential for promoting gender equality and fostering acceptance of human processes. Men are increasingly encouraged to express their emotions openly and seek support when needed. Therapists and mental health professionals emphasise the importance of allowing oneself to feel and express emotions as a vital aspect of mental well-being. In fact, crying is a healthy release of pent-up emotions, providing catharsis and relief from stress. We should all support men – and importantly for the future – boys, to express their emotions, including crying without fear of judgment. Likewise, we need to create a society in which women feel comfortable acknowledging their bodily functions without feeling ashamed or embarrassed.