Men, Women, and Emotions (Reprise)

 

Knowing that men and women are different does not prevent me from taking issue with the simplistic contrasts floating around in our culture: women share their trials to vent, while men want to fix things; men are task-oriented, while women are people-oriented; men talk to give information, while women gab to feel connected. Both sexes laughingly accept these descriptions, but I think further examination warrants refinement of our understanding. Even when there is a degree of truth in distinguishing between men and women this way, clinging too firmly to rough categories can prevent us from truly understanding one another. Also—dare I say it—sometimes descriptions like this give mature, capable women far too little credit.

Take, for example, the cultural idea that women are emotional creatures, while men are more likely to operate from logic. At first glance, this makes sense. When we draw conclusions from what we observe, we often see women more vulnerable to tears, expressions of affection, and conversation about true feelings. In latter years, we’ve been more open about discussing how hormones can affect women’s behavior. On the other hand, we often see men thriving in careers that demand cool logic—programming, engineering, architecture. Men like facts, as opposed to emphasizing feelings.

There is some basic truth to the foregoing paragraph, but I would like to point out first that this perspective, when applied practically, can give women short shrift, not only sounding dismissive, but also limiting their opportunities. I have heard someone say that women can’t be appointed to certain positions, because they allow their emotions to interfere with their reasoning. In the secular world at least, appointments should be based on accomplishment and how one has proven him or herself—in other words, on facts—not on bromides giving the impression that women will get verklempt when faced with the possibility of a business merger. I am not arguing for quotas, nor do I believe that women ought to be shouldering their way into the front lines of battle. However, I do believe that we ought to consider how we have allowed this common understanding about emotional females to shape how the sexes interact and make decisions. Few statements are more unfair to a woman than one suggesting that her views are invalid because she is slave to her feelings or her hormones.

Secondly, in categorizing men and women as logical versus emotional, we’ve drawn hasty conclusions from a few surface features. Diving deeper tells a different story.

When we say that someone is emotional, what we often mean, without realizing it, is emotionally immature. Being emotionally immature is being out of control in our emotions, being driven by them. Do most women have and express a variety of emotions? Certainly. Do they seem to cry a lot? Sure. But are they emotionally immature, allowing their emotions to dictate their decisions? Yes, at times they are, but as with the rest of the human race, we are a variegated lot, and you will find many examples of females who have left behind their adolescent impulses. They recognize their emotions for what they are. While acknowledging the feelings, often their decisions are influenced by them only insofar as these feelings align with the facts. Affection, frustration, sorrow, melancholy, nostalgia—while all these may be given outward expression, the mature woman is judicious in acting out of them.

Men have feelings, too—a lot of them. While they keep these at bay as they write computer programs and design bridges, their feelings are evident in their relationships to the people closest to them. Their families see love, anger, anxiety, helplessness, irritation, hope, contentment, and more. I think it’s fair to ask the same question of men that we did of women. Are men emotionally immature? Again, the answer is, even though we may be dealing with different types of emotions, it depends on what man you’re talking about. Men can be stalwart companions and family men, self-aware, passions in check. Or, they may allow themselves to be yanked around by their impulses, alienating those closest to them in the process.

Being emotionally mature or not is a choice. Both men and women can choose. Will they look at the world and their past experiences and rationally act on them? Or will they be ruled by feelings? I say that in the arena of feelings, both sexes are equally vulnerable, equally accountable, and equally capable.

This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 38 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Your post is spot on, Sawatdeeka. I tend to think of these characteristics as tendencies. For example, I am very logical and it takes a lot for me to break down in tears. And my husband is in many ways your typical engineer, but over the years I’ve seen his softer side and he shares his feelings more often. And yet many people would say we are “typical” in our overall characteristics.

    • #1
  2. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Your post is spot on, Sawatdeeka. I tend to think of these characteristics as tendencies. For example, I am very logical and it takes a lot for me to break down in tears. And my husband is in many ways your typical engineer, but over the years I’ve seen his softer side and he shares his feelings more often. And yet many people would say we are “typical” in our overall characteristics.

    Thanks, Susan. I’ve seen families where the woman is the emotional anchor. 

    • #2
  3. She Member
    She
    @She

    sawatdeeka (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Your post is spot on, Sawatdeeka. I tend to think of these characteristics as tendencies. For example, I am very logical and it takes a lot for me to break down in tears. And my husband is in many ways your typical engineer, but over the years I’ve seen his softer side and he shares his feelings more often. And yet many people would say we are “typical” in our overall characteristics.

    Thanks, Susan. I’ve seen families where the woman is the emotional anchor.

    Agree completely with you both.  Almost everything in life comes down to a choice.  I too have known families where the woman is the emotional anchor, just as I have known families, or individuals, where the man is an out-of-control drama queen.

    Choices.

    • #3
  4. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Men and women will both respond as our unseen and little-understood most basic drives will shove us.  Most thought is post-hoc rationalization for decisions already made at levels we can only guess at.

    I can respond with a well-thought-out argument, or, uh, not.  Yes, but why did I respond? 

    A man resists his instincts to seek strange company, stalwartly remaining a true family man.  Triumph of reason and discipline?  Hardly.  Also read: A man succumbs to his instincts to guard his genetic legacy and that which makes it possible.  Same as a wolf would do.

    Men and women are different.  We’re not from different planets, and we’re not even different species.  But we are thunderously different.  Anybody who thinks that sex is only plumbing deep — that evolution did not equip us with software optimized to each platform — will have a hard time reconciling their beliefs about higher levels with facts.

    That said, yes, Sawatdeeka, I agree, there’s a lot of bunkum about regarding “emotional women”.  Kernels of truth do not justify whole fields of fertilizer.

    • #4
  5. Henry Racette Member
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I agree that “logical versus emotional” isn’t a particularly useful axis for comparison between men and women. I think we tend to “think” emotionally most of the time — and that that’s a good and necessary thing.

    The differences I’d focus on, and that I think are very real, are the people-things and caution-risk axes, both of which I think tend to find women toward the left and men toward the right. (There’s an implication to that first one regarding logic and emotion, I suppose, in that emotion is an effective persuasive tool when dealing with people, but not so much when dealing with things, and that might predispose those more interested in people than in things to favor emotional modes of thought.)

    This shamelessly sexist male enjoyed your post.

    • #5
  6. WiesbadenJake Coolidge
    WiesbadenJake
    @WiesbadenJake

    Great post; my wife is very logical-sequential in her thinking; nothing gets by her in a discussion. She is very soft-spoken and petite, very genteel in appearance and when she is up for jury duty in criminal trials she always gets chosen, I think because the defense attorneys think she will respond to emotional appeals. I always smile when she tells me she is chosen; she is the hanging-judge if the defendant is guilty. In all areas of life, she is the one I depend on to give logical rather emotion-based input. I tend to act on intuition more frequently than her; we took personality tests as part of our pre-marital counseling. The minister said we would have problems our whole lives because we evaluate information in such different ways. Thankfully, his prediction proved untrue–our 38 years of marriage has been very peaceful. I think I have learned from her to balance intuition with logic in a much better way than before I met her. 

    • #6
  7. Hans Gruber Pfizer President Inactive
    Hans Gruber Pfizer President
    @Pseudodionysius

    Or, they may allow themselves to be yanked around by their impulses, alienating those closest to them in the process.

    Any casualties at Nakatomi Plaza have only themselves to blame.

    • #7
  8. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    John Coates’ book ‘The Hour Betweeen Dog and Wolf’ is about the embodiment of mind and especially the influence of hormones.  The author is a trader turned neuroscience researcher He is particularly interested in how hormonal reactions can impact the financial markets, but the applicability of his ideas is clearly not limited to this sphere. He argues that a testosterone feedback loop tends to drive excessive risk-taking by men, to the point that “the trading community at the peak of a bubble or in the pit of a crash may effectively become a clinical population,” and cites a British politician who has also become a neurobiology researcher, to the effect that the same syndrome affects political leaders.

    Concerning women in the financial world, Coates dismisses the common argument that the short supply of women in trading jobs is due to their distaste for the rowdy trading-floor environment, pointing out that there are plenty of women doing well in sales positions on those very same trading floors. He suggests that women may not be as good at, or as inclined to, very-short-cycle decision-making of the kind required of traders, but are equally good or perhaps better at longer-cycle risk-taking as is required of asset managers, and cites the much higher % of women among asset management companies than among traders. (He also argues that trading skill will be of diminishing importance as this function is increasingly performed in microseconds by algorithms.) There’s something in this book to offend all sorts of people!

    • #8
  9. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Try this

    • #9
  10. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    • #10
  11. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Whatever one’s emotions, there are times when they need to be suppressed in favor of concentration on the job.  Best to have your pilot, your air traffic controller, and/or your surgeon focusing on what they are doing rather than allowing themselves to be flooded by their feelings of fear, or empathy, or whatever.

    Vera Atkins was an official of the British WWII organization called Special Operations Executive.  She was often the last person who spoke to an agent before their departure into Occupied France…a mission from which many of them did not return.  Someone once asked her what her feelings were during these encounters. Her reply was:

    “We can feel when the war is over”

    • #11
  12. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeeka
    @sawatdeeka

    David Foster (View Comment):
    “We can feel when the war is over”

    Yes.  Not as momentous as the war, but  it’s like when one has a huge project due by a deadline. There is no time for anxiety or distractions of any kind, emotional or otherwise. Just plow through and keep plowing until the job gets done. 

    • #12
  13. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    sawatdeeka: Knowing that men and women are different does not prevent me from taking issue with the simplistic contrasts floating around in our culture: women share their trials to vent, while men want to fix things; men are task-oriented, while women are people-oriented; men talk to give information, while women gab to feel connected. Both sexes laughingly accept these descriptions, but I think further examination warrants refinement of our understanding.

    Are you saying . . . (gulp) . . . it’s not true?

    There are differences between men and women, but there are also varying degrees of overlap from individual to individual . . .

    • #13
  14. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Related:  Women and Wokeness

     

    • #14
  15. She Member
    She
    @She

    Hans Gruber Pfizer President (View Comment):

    Or, they may allow themselves to be yanked around by their impulses, alienating those closest to them in the process.

    Any casualties at Nakatomi Plaza have only themselves to blame.

    One of the greatest scenes in movie history, served up by Mrs. John McClane:

     

    • #15
  16. She Member
    She
    @She

    Franco (View Comment)

    Always so much fun to listen to, and always at least one interesting insight.  Thanks.

    • #16
  17. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    She (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment)

    Always so much fun to listen to, and always at least one interesting insight. Thanks.

    An intellectually honest liberal . . .

    • #17
  18. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Related: Women and Wokeness

     

    Worth the read. 

    • #18
  19. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    On the average, women have been more likely to vote Democrat and have been less-accepting than have men of conservative and non-Woke ideas.  If the forces of non-wokeness (which should include classical liberals) are to win offices on a more sustained basis than they have so far, then they are going to have to do a better job of persuasion with women.

    As an example, women–young women in particular–are more likely than men to be extremely concerned about ‘climate change’, sometimes to the point of depressive behavior…and are also much less-likely to support nuclear power.

     

     

    • #19
  20. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    I’m going to dissent (woman engineer here) from the idea that we paint the sexes with too broad a brush. That is not relevant to the current political/social climate. Just the opposite. The West has decided to stop making distinctions in service to some fantasy notion of “equity” (equal outcomes). Unless a biological male or female insists on being treated like the opposite sex — then distinctions are mandatory!

    Of course all generalizations break down at the edges (except this one). That doesn’t make them useless or unjust. Women seem more expressive of their emotions to me, generally speaking. Emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. It’s allowing them to govern our behavior that is ethically determinative. I’m currently in a video Bible study being led by a woman who once put her head through the drywall in a fit of anger. Her husband said she’s lucky there wasn’t a stud there (no kidding!). And she’ll tell you her anger (daddy) issues are a problem because of such behavior. 

    But, here’s the thing. All this victim status clambering by women because we’re supposedly held back based on our emotionalism has only caused women to embrace their inner emotional immaturity — and even to knock men for not being more like us! Why don’t they share more, we whine.

    It is also not my experience that women are held back for being women. When I graduated from engineering school back in the early ’90’s all the managers and project design leads of this large Boston-based firm were women save one middle manager (a Jewish man who was more patient with me than I deserved). And I grew to dislike working for women (if men were able to be honest in this cancel climate, I’d bet they’d say the same).

    I’m sorry, but few women have what it takes for leadership outside the family and home — we have a vital role there as civilizers of the next generation. Joan of Arc and Margaret Thatcher are the exceptions that prove the rule. And Hillary (of what difference at this point does it make! outburst infamy) Clinton and cackles Kamala are further proof of the rule, if anyone needs it.

    But, I’m a woman who thinks the beginning of the end for America was when women won the franchise. And if the disproportionate number of votes for Democrats among women is any indication, which I believe is due to this embrace of emotionalism (voting left-wing is never rational, imo), I’m right.

    • #20
  21. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I’m going to dissent (woman engineer here) from the idea that we paint the sexes with too broad a brush. That is not relevant to the current political/social climate. Just the opposite. The West has decided to stop making distinctions in service to some fantasy notion of “equity” (equal outcomes). Unless a biological male or female insists on being treated like the opposite sex — then distinctions are mandatory!

    Of course all generalizations break down at the edges (except this one). That doesn’t make them useless or unjust. Women seem more expressive of their emotions to me, generally speaking. Emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. It’s allowing them to govern our behavior that is ethically determinative. I’m currently in a video Bible study being led by a woman who once put her head through the drywall in a fit of anger. Her husband said she’s lucky there wasn’t a stud there (no kidding!). And she’ll tell you her anger (daddy) issues are a problem because of such behavior.

    But, here’s the thing. All this victim status clambering by women because we’re supposedly held back based on our emotionalism has only caused women to embrace their inner emotional immaturity — and even to knock men for not being more like us! Why don’t they share more, we whine.

    It is also not my experience that women are held back for being women. When I graduated from engineering school back in the early ’90’s all the managers and project design leads of this large Boston-based firm were women save one middle manager (a Jewish man who was more patient with me than I deserved). And I grew to dislike working for women (if men were able to be honest in this cancel climate, I’d bet they’d say the same).

    I’m sorry, but few women have what it takes for leadership outside the family and home — we have a vital role there as civilizers of the next generation. Joan of Arc and Margaret Thatcher are the exceptions that prove the rule. And Hillary (of what difference at this point does it make! outburst infamy) Clinton and cackles Kamala are further proof of the rule, if anyone needs it.

    But, I’m a woman who thinks the beginning of the end for America was when women won the franchise. And if the disproportionate number of votes for Democrats among women is any indication, which I believe is due to this embrace of emotionalism (voting left-wing is never rational, imo), I’m right.

    Absolutely.  You’re always right :-)

    • #21
  22. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    BDB (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    I’m going to dissent (woman engineer here) from the idea that we paint the sexes with too broad a brush. That is not relevant to the current political/social climate. Just the opposite. The West has decided to stop making distinctions in service to some fantasy notion of “equity” (equal outcomes). Unless a biological male or female insists on being treated like the opposite sex — then distinctions are mandatory!

    Of course all generalizations break down at the edges (except this one). That doesn’t make them useless or unjust. Women seem more expressive of their emotions to me, generally speaking. Emotions themselves are neither good nor bad. It’s allowing them to govern our behavior that is ethically determinative. I’m currently in a video Bible study being led by a woman who once put her head through the drywall in a fit of anger. Her husband said she’s lucky there wasn’t a stud there (no kidding!). And she’ll tell you her anger (daddy) issues are a problem because of such behavior.

    But, here’s the thing. All this victim status clambering by women because we’re supposedly held back based on our emotionalism has only caused women to embrace their inner emotional immaturity — and even to knock men for not being more like us! Why don’t they share more, we whine.

    It is also not my experience that women are held back for being women. When I graduated from engineering school back in the early ’90’s all the managers and project design leads of this large Boston-based firm were women save one middle manager (a Jewish man who was more patient with me than I deserved). And I grew to dislike working for women (if men were able to be honest in this cancel climate, I’d bet they’d say the same).

    I’m sorry, but few women have what it takes for leadership outside the family and home — we have a vital role there as civilizers of the next generation. Joan of Arc and Margaret Thatcher are the exceptions that prove the rule. And Hillary (of what difference at this point does it make! outburst infamy) Clinton and cackles Kamala are further proof of the rule, if anyone needs it.

    But, I’m a woman who thinks the beginning of the end for America was when women won the franchise. And if the disproportionate number of votes for Democrats among women is any indication, which I believe is due to this embrace of emotionalism (voting left-wing is never rational, imo), I’m right.

    Absolutely. You’re always right :-)

    Good man. There’s a man who knows his place. ;-)

    • #22
  23. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Thinking of my parents, my mother was and is more in control of her emotions than my father was.  Not that my mom is stoic, but my dad was a powder keg.  Same for his own father. 

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    And I grew to dislike working for women (if men were able to be honest in this cancel climate, I’d bet they’d say the same).

    I am in my mid-fifties and have been working since I was in the 6th grade.  I don’t remember ever thinking that I preferred working with one sex over the other.  My favorite and least favorite co-workers have been pretty evenly split between men and women.

    • #23
  24. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Doing a quick count, I have had around a dozen bosses.  About a third are women.  As I rate them, half of the bottom third were women and none of the top third.  

    The two worst women bosses were both queen bees.  In practice the organizations existed to care for, pamper, and protect their queen.   The men were basically organizational drones.  In one case the work team went from around 20% women to over 60% in 10 years.   The hives were abuzz with activity, with remarkably little accomplishment. 

    • #24
  25. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Thinking of my parents, my mother was and is more in control of her emotions than my father was. Not that my mom is stoic, but my dad was a powder keg. Same for his own father.

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    And I grew to dislike working for women (if men were able to be honest in this cancel climate, I’d bet they’d say the same).

    I am in my mid-fifties and have been working since I was in the 6th grade. I don’t remember ever thinking that I preferred working with one sex over the other. My favorite and least favorite co-workers have been pretty evenly split between men and women.

    Of course that’s true. But, I could tell stories, except I’ve probably said enough to detract already. Women can be good (enough) managers. I haven’t run into one who was great, though, and the ones who were good enough tended to be working remote to me or shared my (project lead) level in the hierarchy.  Maybe it’s the engineering industry, but women whose basic nature is cooperative rather than competitive seem easily threatened and can act out. Never enough for a firing offence in my experience. Just enough to make the workplace unpleasant. Men handle these situations differently and often with jibing good humor (my current working experience with all male managers).

    In the current climate, women and minorities seem to be favored (“I’ll nominate a black woman” Biden, for example). In my experience, it’s been going this (affirmative action) direction for decades. And women simultaneously have been encouraged to be more like men, which is contrary to our nature. It’s a trap. As Klavan says — “feminism: making perfectly good women into horribly bad men.”

    I’m not advocating for women to be denied leadership positions (although I’m highly skeptical of electing a woman — especially a Democrat one — to the presidency; under things we shouldn’t say during the Biden presidency, file: surely it couldn’t be any worse!). I’m advocating for women (and men) to get control of their emotions and to not let them rule over our behavior. That’s what I’d call emotional maturity.

    • #25
  26. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    I’ve never worked for a woman, but I’ve had many women working for me, including some in management jobs.  I’m thinking of two in particular who were outstanding leaders and moreover were quite creative, in roles where creativity mattered a lot.

     

    • #26
  27. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    David Foster (View Comment):

    I’ve never worked for a woman, but I’ve had many women working for me, including some in management jobs. I’m thinking of two in particular who were outstanding leaders and moreover were quite creative, in roles where creativity mattered a lot.

     

    Yes, but you might need to hear from the people working for them.

    We all bring something distinctive to the world. I happen to think it’s good that men and women are different and it’s bad when we deny it. It’s bad for everyone.

    • #27
  28. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Yes, but you might need to hear from the people working for them.

     

    I knew the groups well-enough that I’m confident just about all of the people in them would share my opinion.

    re ‘bringing something different to the world’…I’ve also seem women attempting to emulate what they *think* are high-powered male management styles, which they seem to have gotten from watching television programs.  Didn’t work out all that well.

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I guess I’ll chime in. Many years ago when I worked in the savings and loan industry, I had women managers and supervisors, and I was one myself. I always got along well with the women, and part of that was determined by how I treated them. If I had approached them with pre-conceptions about what they would be like as women managers, I’m sure it would have affected how they treated me. I learned a lot about managing from them, as well from the men who managed me. I will say that there was one time I got negative criticism from a woman I supervised: she was repeatedly late, and she was upset that I wasn’t more compassionate and understanding. Oh well.

    • #29
  30. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I guess I’ll chime in. Many years ago when I worked in the savings and loan industry, I had women managers and supervisors, and I was one myself. I always got along well with the women, and part of that was determined by how I treated them. If I had approached them with pre-conceptions about what they would be like as women managers, I’m sure it would have affected how they treated me. I learned a lot about managing from them, as well from the men who managed me. I will say that there was one time I got negative criticism from a woman I supervised: she was repeatedly late, and she was upset that I wasn’t more compassionate and understanding. Oh well.

    I was brand-spanking new to the professional work world and if I had preconceptions, they would have comported with my lefty rock-ribbed feminism at the time. I was a woman engineer! Working in a man’s world! Surely the women I worked for would share my (not really) subjugation experience in the tech industry and we’d form a sisterhood. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. 

    And it wasn’t that I felt persecuted either. Water cooler chatter would lead me to believe the men had the same experience I was having. Some of the women I worked for were sometimes emotionally labile making them unpredictable. They let their emotions and insecurity rule their behavior. 

    My mother acted similarly, so I had antenna attuned for it, I guess. Mother was highly intelligent, a nurse, part of the Greatest Generation (Depression era child, husband and brother off to WWII, the whole thing), and a good mother. But, she could behave irrationally and the response I developed was to get all (Star Trek) Spock coldly rational. Although I never mastered the raised eyebrow. 

    • #30
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.