I was raised with many warnings (direct and otherwise) not to trust my emotions-- so easily manipulated by sleep and poor nutrition. As a result I grew into a very mentally-oriented young adult, and that almost caused me to miss out on my wonderful husband.

The short-short version is that I knew he wanted to marry me, and I knew I didn't want to "lose" him, but it was a *huge* stumbling block that I could not articulate why he meant so much to me.

Very weird.


Your comment about the young men in jail reminded me of a story an older man told me once, about how he nearly killed his mother's boyfriend when (during high school age) he found the man slapping his mother around.

He was the jock-type, and strong enough to knock the guy down, and began slamming the older guy's head into the slate floor. He says he doesn't even remember anything but his friends pulling him off, and was horrified at what he'd already done.

He ended his account (very "emotionally,") wondering out-loud how many young men ended up in prison as murderers because there wasn't anyone else around when they went senseless with rage.


>>> Happy: [ … ] if thousands of women complain that being catcalled on the street makes them "feel" disturbed and upset, it doesn't mean that a concern with street harassment is invalid.

Barring your specific example, it doesn’t mean their concern is valid, either. I guard against emotional thinking in myself because I have found it untrustworthy, and can lead to wrong, or at least sloppy results. Yes, this can happen also with unemotional thought, but in my experience, to a far, far lesser degree.

>>> Happy: Often people are emotional about an issue because they have been wronged or because it affects them in particular.

True, and I generally find this to be the worst kind of emotional thinking because of the extreme results it can foster. It often leads to an if-I’m-cold-than-everyone-must-be-cold thought pattern. The idea that just because someone has personally experienced a wrong, then they must, by necessity, speak with moral clarity about it, is both so widely excepted, and so bizarre, as to be a real social danger.

(Before folks point out exceptions to me, I remind them that I said “generally” and “often,” not “universally” and “always,” as not everyone who speaks from personal experience is guilty of this type of offense. However, I do believe that it is the rule, rather than the exception.)

>>> Happy: I don't think a person's degree of emotionalism is a basis for criticism unless the person's emotions cloud his or her judgment or adversely affect behavior.

The issue, as I see it Happy, is one of probabilities. That is, whether a person is more likely to have clouded judgment or adversely affected behavior as his or her level of emotion about an issue rises. I don’t know how you can honestly respond to that question in the negative.

(This comment is within word limit, if you subtract reference quotes.)


Richard; I can't parse your argument. Subjective reality comes into the moralities of most people I know: If I regularly tied a person to a chair and gave him unbearably painful but physiologically non-damaging shocks, his emotional state pretty much is what's being damaged. His "NO! AAARGH!" is pretty primary in the world of functional human society, even if it's not a well reasoned argument wherein he ... what? Parses his value? Explains why for the greater good we should use the Golden Rule? Whether or not I was trying to do something "moral" - say, I was trying to help him overcome a gambling addiction that plagued him - most philosophical systems I know would suggest my methods were immoral.

If catcalling were perceived by the majority of women to be emotionally painful, then people who did it for fun would be immoral. I'm not claiming that to be the case, although I do know a self-reported subset that does find it painful. No, there's nothing "objective" about emotive pain: but people with no concern for other people's feelings are classified as sociopaths for a greater reason than the whimsy of psychologists. To a psychopath, where's the true objective measure of harm in serial killing? Since we're all going to die, anyway?

Mmm. Nope.

Kathy McCarty

I read SOMEWHERE on a feminist Blog (probably Pandagon but I forget) that SOMEONE had scientifically measured it, and Men were more emotional becasue they commit more murders.

Because their emotions made them insane, and they do actual things to other people and things, as opposed to, say, weeping alone in the kitchen.

I am not stupid, just tired and had surgery.


My father uses that same tactic (telling me: "Take--it--eee--zee!") whenever I express an opinion with any modicum of passion. I'm printing out a copy of your post to keep on hand for the next time such a situation arises so I may have a reference guide on which I may base my point. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you so much!!!


Kathy - that's a good point, but it's also worth remembering that men are often taught to externalise their emotions and women to internalise things. So while males generally use their aggression in a way that is destructive to others, women use theirs in a way that in destructive to themselves - even if it is the same type of aggression. Ugh, I didn't articulate that very well, but you know what I mean.

The Happy Feminist

I didn't necessarily mean to imply that men are inherently more likely to let their emotions cloud their judgment than women are. I don't even know how such a thing would be measured. But I do think that the classic ways in which men tend to act emotionally (losing one's temper, committing violence) are less likely to be categorized as emotionalism than the woman who cries. Also a woman who loses her temper or expresses anger iis more likely to be perceived as overly emotional than a man who does the same thing.

I don't agree with Richard that our emotional responses to things should be distrusted, or discounted. I think that when you feel strongly about something, you should ask yourself WHY. When you analyze it, you may find you have some very good reasons for feeling the way you do. On the other occasions, you may find when you consider it that your reaction isn't really fair to other people, in which case you should be an adult and put it aside. But my point, emotion in and of itself is not necessarily wrong or bad or untrustworthy. And you should never just ignore what your emotions are telling you.


men are often taught to externalise their emotions and women to internalise things

This is extremely misleading — in some ways absurd — and highlights an area where men are, in fact, penalized (or women privileged, if you prefer). Young males are generally encouraged to compete (and strongly discouraged from being affectionate or needy), and physically dominant males learn to channel their anger into the abuse of weaker ones. However, all men are taught to interiorize the expression of vulnerable emotions (fear, sadness, need for affection, and even sometimes happiness) by the prevalence of competition and dominance in the construction of male identity. And those males ending up at the lower rungs of the dominance hierarchy end up having to interiorize their anger as well. Even other males may learn that anger is not an emotion to be expressed, but actually a stimulus for 'fight or flight' (and hence the explosions of violent rage).

With women in the workplace expecting to be able to win competitions for jobs and promotions, I think they've been experiencing the disjunction between being able to express what they're feeling and the detachment required for corporate interaction somewhat more keenly than men, but only because they haven't had their spontaneity pummelled out of them in their youth like so many males have.

By and large, though, women retain a decided advantage over most men in being able to remain far more emotionally authentic and consequently able to build and maintain more intimate friendships than men.

Amanda Marcotte

Someone once pointed out to me that if you remember that "anger" is an emotion, then men are surely more emotional than women. That stuck with me.

The Grouch

women retain a decided advantage over most men in being able to remain far more emotionally authentic

I'm not at all sure about this, ballgame. Often there are only a limited amount of emotions that women are actually allowed to express. Anger, for one thing, is often dismissed as insanity in women.

Women are required in many instances to be gushy and smarmy and nicey-nice. This doesn't translate to "emotionally authentic," though.

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