Saturday, May 14, 2011

Breaking Down the Barrier that Emotions Are 'Feminine'

One gender stereotype that I witness frequently is the belief that women are overly emotional. This stereotype is thriving in popular culture. The opening of Bridget Jones’s Diary is a perfect example where Bridget longingly sings to the camera that she is ‘All By Herself’ without a mate. There is also a scene from Glee where Rachel Berry asks guidance counselor, Emma, if ‘she’s ever liked someone so much that you’ve just wanted to lock yourself in your room, listen to sad music and cry.’ The screen quickly flashes to Emma crying in her car singing ‘All By Myself.’

The act of being emotional is synonymous with being a woman or being ‘feminine.’ The type of emotions a woman is allowed to have is limited since she can express sadness but not anger or aggressions. Those feelings are reserved for men. This begins at a young age when boys are told they should not cry while girls are encouraged to share their emotions. Those stereotypes have detrimental effects on career opportunities for women. When a woman is seen as ‘overly emotional’, how can she be respected to make difficult decisions on behalf of others at a company?

Not only are emotions seen as ‘feminine’, they are also viewed as ‘bad’ or ‘inappropriate.’ Throughout this semester, I have felt pressured to be strong and keep pushing through the difficult moments with advice such as ‘You’re almost done’ and ‘It will be over soon.’ While those words of encouragement help, to be honest, I’m still very sad, frustrated, and angry about many of the circumstances that were forced onto me this semester. While I will be ‘fine’, I’m not right now, yet, I feel the pressure to put a smile on my face and carry on. I imagine a better world where men and women are more comfortable sharing their emotions and less willing to put on shows for the people in front of them. Yes, the truth hurts sometimes, but I’ve learned this semester that I want to know the truth about people. I’d rather have genuine, strong people surrounding me that like the ‘real’ me.

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