Night and I went to a lecture by an evolutionary psychologist recently. It was called “love and betrayal” and we were hoping for lots of stuff on monogamy and anthropology etc, but it all ended up being about gender roles. The difference between men and women. It was interesting! But it was also very heteronormative and a bit biased.
There was this one thing that got me thinking though. There was some study done comparing how well men and women could concentrate when there was a member of the opposite sex was present (compared to when there wasn’t). You can imagine the results, the women suffered no ill effects – but the men had slightly more trouble. And he used these findings to justify the statement that “men are more emotional than women”. Which… I’ll admit, made me chuckle. And, though I disagree that this is proof enough, it got me thinking.
Firstly, what do we consider “emotional” to mean? I think most people would consider it to indicate a level of expression of emotions. Which, I suppose is the easiest way to measure such an intangible concept… But if you think about it – how much a person expresses their emotions bears little correlation to how much emotion they actually feel. You could theoretically compare two people; one who rarely expresses their feelings, and one who appears to do so freely – and the second would appear more emotional. But to me it seems perfectly feasible that the first may have a huge amount of emotions that they are repressing (and therefore have more emotions as a result of the repression) compared to the second who is more emotionally satisfied because they have the opportunity to express themselves freely on a day-to-day basis.
It’s pretty much common knowledge that gender roles encourage men to repress their emotions. The whole “big boys don’t cry” thing? So, if you wanted to you could technically apply those theoretical examples to men and women… and women would come off as the less emotional ones. Which leads me to wonder if this might be where the whole “women can’t control their emotions*” thing comes from. Maybe the men who accuse women of this are just so afraid of being labelled as “emotional” that they feel the need to divert the attention onto women instead. Wouldn’t that be a telling observation of misogynistic culture?
*I would like to add here, not only is this utterly offensive. But it’s also absurd. No one can control their emotions. As I said before – you can control the way you express your emotions, but you feel the way you feel – there’s no getting in the way of that. The most you can do is to tell yourself that’s not how you feel and get deeeeep in denial. But you can never stop it… unless you let it out, and let yourself feel