Emotions, Attributes, and Double Standards

Since high school, I have often thought about how attributes that men have are often viewed as negative when a woman has them. Recently, a Pantene ad in the Philippines gave voice to this issue in a very important way.

Of course, it’s an advertisement for shampoo and this one-minute ad isn’t necessarily going to make all people see ‘the errors of their ways’ or anything like that (the comments show this), but it definitely can change some minds. One comment said, “wow, i thought i was non prejudiced, While watching this add, I understood my faults. Lovely Ad, and fantastic message and I learn ta lot about me,” which is pretty heartening, especially in comparison to what seems to be the majority of comments. Plus, with YouTube and the fact that it is aired in the Philippines, the ad has the benefit of reaching global audiences.

There are many problems with men being seen as a boss, while women are seen as ‘bossy’ or men being seen as assertive, while women are seen as ‘bitchy,’ but one is that it translates over to how men and women are treated. Men are seen as being rational, while women are seen as being emotional, but this isn’t necessarily the case. One of my favorite articles that I’ve read in the past year is titled “When Men Get Too Emotional to Have A Rational Argument.” In it, Jen Dziura writes about how men have emotions and many of their emotions can be quite detrimental to having a conversation, but the emotions of men are seen as normal and ‘talking,’ while the emotions associated with women (such as crying) are seen as negative.

What I want to talk about is how emotional outbursts typically more associated with men (shouting, expressing anger openly) are given a pass in public discourse in a way that emotional outbursts typically more associated with women (crying, “getting upset”) are stigmatized.

I wish to dispel the notion that women are “more emotional.” I don’t think we are. I think that the emotions women stereotypically express are what men call “emotions,” and the emotions that men typically express are somehow considered by men to be something else.

This is incorrect. Anger? EMOTION. Hate? EMOTION. Resorting to violence? EMOTIONAL OUTBURST. An irrational need to be correct when all the evidence is against you? Pretty sure that’s an emotion. Resorting to shouting really loudly when you don’t like the other person’s point of view? That’s called “being too emotional to engage in a rational discussion.”

Not only do I think men are at least as emotional as women, I think that these stereotypically male emotions are more damaging to rational dialogue than are stereotypically female emotions. A hurt, crying person can still listen, think, and speak. A shouting, angry person? That person is crapping all over meaningful discourse.

Although I think the issues presented in the Pantene ad are nothing new (not to say that it isn’t significant that it is being presented in a larger forum, because it is), when I read Jen Dziura’s article, it felt so enlightening and true. If you haven’t read it, the full article is definitely worth it.

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4 thoughts on “Emotions, Attributes, and Double Standards

  1. After reading this post and the article mariah posted, I am wondering where the line is drawn between Pantene calling awareness to these issues and Pantene, instead, perpetuating and reaffirming these stereotypes.

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