Do emotions have a gender?
One thing that always was an integral part of my childhood was curiosity. I would drive everyone around me crazy by asking them a billion questions about each and everything I observed. Although they used to get annoyed at my continuous questioning, I would always find a way to get my answers.
Out of the many things I would ask about, gender discrimination was one of them.
Why can’t boys wear makeup?
Why can’t girls wear whatever they wish to?
Why does society keep on discriminating on the basis of gender?
Growing up, many more questions would continuously pop into my head. These ideas continued building up inside my head and soon I started advocating for equality, or should I rather say equity.
Coming back to the final week of our GetLitt! Student Editorial Council internship, our mentors asked us to present some of the ideas I had noted down in the journal. (P.S.: The GetLitt! Team had gifted all six of us a lovely journal at the very beginning of our internship which we had to use to note down our ideas and thoughts throughout the internship period).
At first, I was utterly perplexed. I was completely blank about what I should be writing. Nonetheless, I started writing down my day to day experiences, my to-do list and my weekly planners. Regularity came gradually and I soon found so much enjoyment in writing my thoughts that I started doodling and making mandalas in the journal itself.
My thoughts about gender stereotypes were the ones that were the most recurring and prominent.
On giving further thought to it, I realised that there would be no other topic that I could talk about as passionately as I do about gender equity. So I flipped through my pages to find out the top ideas which I could present on. And I found just the right one.
Although I didn’t write the exact date:
The journal entry was about a day I would never forget.
That day my brother was being mocked for crying simply because his friends believed it was too ‘girlish’. My brother came up to me to talk about it and I felt the immense sadness he felt that day when his friends called him a ‘girl’ because he started crying when he got hurt while playing. Seeing my brother, I felt that many other boys and also men feel the same kind of social and psychological pressure when it comes to expressing emotions like sadness, fear and anxiety.
That’s why I chose this topic, not only because of my personal connection with it but also because of the change of perspective I want to see in society about the word “emotions”!
We all feel emotions like sadness, anger, happiness and fear but not all are allowed to express them. Why? Because ‘apparently’ expressing emotions stands as a more feminine thing to do.
But Why? Do emotions have a gender?
Why are men and boys told to not cry or express their emotions? Here are a few reasons:
Men often feel it is not appropriate to express their emotions and hence might try to ‘bottle up’ how they feel rather than ask for help. They are taught to be self-reliant hence asking for help might not come to them naturally.
Boys are frequently told that it is better to control emotions and to be brave when they are going through a difficult time.
And the biggest stereotype is about crying.
However, crying isn’t wrong at all. In fact, it has many benefits. Some people feel better once they cry, the reason being that the tears one shed after crying due to stress, sadness or shock release a natural painkiller in the body. Others also believe that they feel a sense of relief once they release the emotions that they may have bottled up.
Then why is crying still not okay for all?
This is because some people might find it uncomfortable to cry in front of people due to the fear of judgement or the fear that people might think they are weak or vulnerable. While it is okay to have one’s own opinion, if we feel strangled and suffocating because we do not wish to cry and let out our emotions then it is imperative that we let them out because bottling them up would do nothing but harm to our mental state of mind.
According to a research conducted by Professor Ad Vingerhoets, women cry between 30 and 64 times a year, while men only cry between 6 and 17 times.
But isn’t our emotional health also important? Being healthy emotionally affects our behaviour and can promote productivity and effectiveness in all activities. Emotional expression helps us see problems in a new light and also makes decision making and problem-solving easier.
It is therefore of utmost importance that we understand the fact that emotions are universal and gender-neutral and encourage men and boys around us to feel comfortable in expressing their emotions. But how? Here are a few tips:
- Firstly, don’t mock them for showing their emotions. This can cause them to develop a fear of judgment, which should be eradicated.
- Talk to them empathetic-ally if they are upset or feeling low. Provide them with a comfortable atmosphere where they can share their feelings without any hesitation.
- Give them the time and space to understand their emotions and assure them that you as a friend, parent or sibling are there with them whenever they need any help.
I hope that this blog is informative and encouraging. Emotions can be suppressed but not for long. They have a way of coming out, forcefully if not naturally. It is not wrong to express emotions, but what is wrong is to expect people to not express them just to get an impression of being strong and courageous.
Hi! My name is Ritika Kalantri. I am a grade 9 student at Bombay Scottish School, Mahim. A passionate writer, avid reader, and travel enthusiast, my hobbies include playing badminton, dancing, and singing. I am passionate about becoming an entrepreneur in the future. My other fields of interest include writing and debating. Want to describe me in three words? Well, here you go: Hardworking. Determined. Focused. I love to write about social issues, especially those that are serving as hindrances to our development. I wish to write my own blog soon and get more experience in the field of creative writing which I am currently pursuing just as a hobby. Can’t wait to make a change in this rapidly evolving world! Ritika Kalantri is part of the GetLitt! Editorial Student Council, a 10-week, literary initiative aimed at getting students actively involved in reading, writing, and editing.