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The moment during the finale of The Bachelorette that broke all the rules about being a man.

We all knew it was coming.

Todd King, the 26-year-old aspiring police officer from Western Australia, had genuinely fallen in love with Ali Oetjen.

He, like the 17 men who joined him six weeks ago, had been plied with alcohol, canapes, and an absurdly attractive woman – all designed to make him envision a future with Ali from South Australia.

They talked about marriage and they talked about kids. He opened up about his plans to join the police force, and how he would compromise on his goals in order to accommodate hers. He met her family, and she met his.

And then she dumped him, somewhere in the Northern Territory, leaving him to mourn alone, in the outback, with the impending threat of crocodiles and/or dingoes. A camera crew zoomed in on his broken face, as he bent over on the grass, sitting and staring at his hands.

But there was something that happened during those moments – as we saw a man rejected on TV by a woman he loved – that implicitly spoke volumes.

He cried.

He didn’t almost cry. He didn’t swear. He didn’t just put his head in his hands. He cried.

And it broke all the rules.

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We very rarely see men on TV cry. In fact, we rarely see men cry at all.

Not when they're reporting on a moving news piece, or when they're speaking about a tough personal story. Not when they win and not when they lose.

To cry is to be hurt and exposed and vulnerable - traits that, from a young age, are socially disapproved of in men. We joke about men crying, as though to do so is weak and embarrassing. The concept of 'white male tears' has also become a punchline, implying privileged men couldn't possibly have anything to cry about.

Of course, the issue isn't just about crying. More widely, men are discouraged from expressing their emotions, perpetuating a narrow stereotype about masculinity that doesn't allow for resilience building, interpersonal intimacy, or reaching out for help. The 'men don't cry' norm is indisputably a contributor to severe emotional distress in men, as well as mental illness and suicide.

It's a construct that desperately needs to be disrupted.

Posting to Instagram on Friday afternoon, Todd addressed his tears on The Bachelorette. 

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"Men feel and men cry," he wrote.

"I grew as a man on the show.

"Love is something worth fighting for, worth hurting for, worth sacrificing for - and I'll never regret putting my heart on the line."

The hundreds of responses to his post were almost universally positive, praising his "genuine" display of emotion and for being an "example of the type of person every man should strive to be".

What was particularly notable about Todd's tears was that they weren't angry and they weren't frustrated. They were just sad. Unlike Charlie Newling - who became frustrated and argumentative with Ali when he no longer understood how she felt about him, and repeated that he thought she would make the wrong decision - Todd expressed that he was happy for her and that he'd be there if she ever needed him.

He didn't make his emotions her fault.

He was just hurt.

And by crying openly, he shared a crucial message about that pain: that it's okay, that it's allowed, and that it's attractive.

Regardless of your gender.

Listen to Clare Stephens and Rachel Corbett debrief on the final week of The Bachelorette. 

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