Why Are Women More Emotional Than Men
When you’re a little kid, your parents may or may not respond to your tears with sympathy, but they probably don’t call it “crying ugly” either. But as an adult, when someone cries, we can be pretty sure if he’s doing so out of joy or sadness — unless he’s wearing sunglasses indoors. In those instances, there is no telling what emotion is behind his tears. And it doesn’t matter how much money he makes, whether he has a college degree or where he lives, because he could cry for any reason at all.
It seems men aren’t nearly as emotional as women. A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of California-San Diego showed that male subjects cried significantly less than female subjects over a two week period. The results seem to back up previous research showing that men don’t express their emotions as readily as women do.
But why? It turns out, our society, along with other factors, have led us to believe that men should be stoic while women tend to be more emotional. So if this belief is true, why does it exist?
One theory suggests that gender differences in crying are due to hormonal changes. Specifically, during puberty boys become increasingly emotional while girls stay emotionally flat [sources: Berenbaum]. This is supported by another study which found that women who were going through menopause tended to show increased levels of depression and anxiety. When these women were given hormone replacement therapy (HRT), however, they saw a decrease in these symptoms.
Another theory focuses on socialization rather than biological changes. According to Dr. Sherry L. Ordon, author of “Women & Men: Gender Differences in Social Behavior,” the difference between genders appears to occur during childhood. She cites numerous cases of children being disciplined differently depending on whether they are boys or girls. For example, one study showed that mothers used harsher punishments when disciplining girls than when disciplining boys. Another study showed that fathers use physical punishment more often than mothers against sons, but not daughters. These findings suggest that children of both genders are raised differently based on their sex. As a result, boys learn early on that expressing negative feelings will lead them to get into trouble, whereas girls learn that expressing negative feelings will help them cope better.
There is also evidence suggesting that certain hormones play a part in determining our emotions. Testosterone, for instance, has been linked to aggression and violence. It has also been associated with aggression and hostility in males toward females. In addition, estrogen has been linked to higher levels of empathy among women. Interestingly enough, HRT has been shown to lower estrogen levels and increase empathy among postmenopausal women, making it similar to the effects seen in premenopausal women.
So if certain hormones affect our emotions, then why wouldn’t these same hormones affect men the same way? One explanation might be that since men don’t go through puberty quite as long as women, their bodies haven’t developed similar responses to the hormones involved in our emotions. Also, although the brain contains roughly the same number of neurons, men have twice as many connections between neurons than women. Therefore, the parts of the brain responsible for processing emotion aren’t fully developed in men until later in life.
Whatever the case, the fact remains that men aren’t as emotional as women. But just because we’ve been conditioned to think this way doesn’t mean we won’t ever shed a tear. On the next page, read about a few people who proved otherwise.
Although men aren’t naturally as emotional as women, they can certainly feel sorrow, anger and grief. However, it takes a special kind of man to admit such feelings. Take football star David Robinson, for example. He was known for playing hardball and always giving 110 percent, but after suffering a stroke in 2005, he admitted that his wife had died. Robinson said that he didn’t know how to grieve and refused to let anyone else carry the burden. His actions helped him overcome his grief and eventually return to the court.
People Who Cry Despite Culture
We live in a world that says it’s unhealthy to cry, yet we still see people shedding tears every day. There are plenty of examples of people who manage to keep tears at bay despite cultural expectations. Here are a few:
Piers Morgan: The British television host, journalist and former CNN talk show host was once asked by a young girl how she felt about bullies. Instead of answering her question directly, Piers replied, “I’m fine.” After hearing this response, the child began sobbing uncontrollably. Piers immediately apologized to the girl and vowed never to treat her differently again. If only everyone reacted this way to situations involving bullying.
Diana Ross: Diana Ross overcame her natural tendency to cry whenever she heard sad songs. Growing up in Mississippi, she sang gospel music, and church choir members would sing hymns throughout the night. Singing made her feel good, and even though she knew others would look down upon her singing, she continued to sing anyway. Eventually, she learned to control her emotions and started performing publicly. Today, the singer continues to record albums and perform concerts.
Marian Anderson: Although Marian Anderson suffered from polio as a child, she defied the odds and became a concert pianist. Before each performance, she would cry before she played her first note. Even though she was expected to be unable to play piano, she managed to do so flawlessly. Her performances helped raise awareness of the disease poliomyelitis.
These individuals prove that it really isn’t healthy to hold back tears. With the right attitude, anyone can overcome their grief and move forward.
For more information on people overcoming adversity, visit the next page.
Many cultures discourage crying. In the Middle East, for example, crying is considered unbecoming of a woman. Other cultures view crying as weakness. Yet, regardless of culture, it shouldn’t take something extreme to cause someone to cry. While many people may be able to control their tears, others find themselves unable to stop themselves from weeping. People who suffer from clinical depression or bipolar disorder may experience episodes of uncontrolled crying. To help control these types of episodes, doctors sometimes prescribe medications or psychotherapy.
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