Was it hard to imagine how you felt when Allegra Stanton cried during her resignation speech. The answer will depend on your politics, your beliefs, your values — but perhaps most of all, it will depend on your sex.

If you’re a man, the sight of her tears may have made you uncomfortable. Men have traditionally been bad at dealing with crying women: it’s not so long ago that any overt display of female emotion in an office would have men ushering the woman in question from the room so they wouldn’t have to deal with her.

Even though the situation is improving, there are still many male-dominated offices. Crying in the workplace for work reasons (e.g. stress, coworker disagreements) or personal reasons like death or divorce are not allowed.

BORIS STARLING: How did you feel when you saw Allegra Stratton crying during her resignation speech? The answer will depend on your politics, your beliefs, your values - but perhaps most of all, it will depend on your sex. Pictured: Stratton cries during resignation

BORIS STARLING – How was it for you to see Allegra Stratton weeping during her resignation speech. It will all depend on what you believe, how much you value, and most importantly, on the way that you sex. Pictured: Stratton cries during resignation

Some men find that a woman’s tears make them feel softer and protective towards her.

People cry when they’re in emotional or physical pain — that is, when they’re vulnerable — and this naturally prompts many (but by no means all) men to downplay machismo and aggression in favour of comfort.

Some men view female crying as emotional manipulation or emotional blackmail, and will not engage in it regardless of the reasons.

Men’s reactions vary so much because our own relationship with crying is complex.

Men are less likely to cry than women. This is partially physiological because testosterone may prevent tears from occurring, while prolactin (which measures more in women) may increase them. It’s also partly psychological since boys are socialized not to show weakness or weep.

It is gradually changing. Barack Obama wept several times during his presidency. The nation took Andy Murray to its heart when he wept having lost the 2012 Wimbledon final to Roger Federer, not least because it was the first time that his hitherto unemotional public façade had cracked.

Allegra Stratton speaks on her doorstep in north London on Wednesday

Allegra Stratton spoke on Wednesday at her north London doorstep

The gap between the sexes in this regard is probably less than one might believe.

People remember Margaret Thatcher’s tears as she was driven away from Downing Street for the last time in 1990, and those of Theresa May as she stepped down two years ago, because these remote and aloof figures had — finally! — shown some emotion.

Although they did cry for their own sakes, we can all do the same.

Stratton’s tears were surely the same, even though she apologised ‘to all of you who lost loved ones, who endured intolerable loneliness and who struggled with your businesses’.

After being the most talked about story and being vilified by social media for a few days, and probably not getting much sleep, many of us would have wept, regardless of gender.

Allegra Stratton rehearsing before a Downing Street announcement. No10 staff joke in the leaked video obtained by ITV News about Christmas party they later denied

Allegra stratton rehearsals before an announcement by Downing Street ITV News obtained the video leaked by ITV News and shows No10 laughing at a Christmas party.

Tears are a natural human reaction when you reach the end of any project to which you’ve given time and effort: that sense of letting go, of having run out of road, of an unexpected freedom which you’ve half-wanted and half-feared for so long.

AllegraStratton has a question. She didn’t cry because she was embarrassed, she just did so publicly.

She could easily have released a written statement on social media, the way many people — even ministers — do when they resign. 

She didn’t take questions from the Press and she wasn’t leaving the house to go somewhere else, so she didn’t need to come out at all.

Perhaps she felt, consciously or not, that tears would offset the damage caused by the image of her laughing — because we all understand the twin theatrical masks of comedy and tragedy, no matter who we are.