In the endless discussions about what makes men and women different, one of the ideas that are often trotted out is that women are more emotional than men. And somewhere along the way, people just nodded and accepted it as fact. How can anyone contest that one, after all? Aren't women more maternal, more sensitive, more in touch with their emotions, more easily prone to bursting into tears? Aren't men more stoic, serious, less able to show affection or express sadness?
That's the idea that people have come to accept, and it has been the foundation of many relationship issues between men and women. But more importantly, being emotional is presented as yet another proof that women are weaker than men, showing that they are less stable, less capable of holding leadership positions, and easily carried away by what they feel that they lose all sense of logic and just do everything in our power for the ones we love.
For instance, commenting on the alleged relationship of a female police officer with a member of a terror group, who were reportedly caught trying to rescue members of the Abu Sayyaf group in Bohol, Philippine National Police chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa said, "Weakness ng babae 'yan. Emotionally attached ka sa isang tao kahit anong request sa 'yo, gagawin mo."
A statement like that only spreads the idea that only women are capable of performing acts borne out of love and that men will never fall prey to their emotions or become attached to anyone. But the fact is that men and women do have emotional attachments and feel the same kinds of emotions. The only difference lies in how we are socialized from a young age to express them.
For example, men are generally trained to conceal their emotions even as little boys. When a little boy is crying, it usually prompts his friends or relatives to tell him, "Wag ka nga umiyak. Para kang babae niyan eh." And so, from a young age, boys are already taught that crying is a sign of weakness, thrown in with a little lot of sexism as well by the suggestion that engaging in what is seen as "girly" behavior is demeaning and unmanly, which brings with it the underlying idea that feminine = bad and weak.
What is considered acceptable for men, however, is emotions like anger, and acting out aggressively to express that anger is even seen as acceptable, and is explained away by saying that men just have a lot of testosterone, which makes it difficult for men to control their aggression. This isn't healthy either, because it doesn't teach men better ways to deal with their anger, and it also doesn't teach men to acknowledge and express their other emotions.
By contrast, women are generally encouraged to cry; some would say that it's even expected when the situation calls for it. They are expected to exhibit the "softer" emotions and behavior, like being caring and sensitive. And yet, as adult women, being emotional is seen as a negative, even when they are expressing anger and aggression, which are acceptable for men; in women's case, they are simply tagged as hysterical or irrational. Such comments tell women that what they are feeling is not legitimate and valid and, indeed, that they simply need to get a better grip on themselves, which basically says that they should just hide what they feel.
To say that being emotional is limited to only one sex is just inaccurate. Who hasn't gotten excited over hearing that their favorite band is in town? Who hasn't grieved over the death of a loved one? Who hasn't been hurt or offended by insults?
Emotions are not weaknesses; they're simply part of being human.
Your emotions are not something you should be embarrassed about or something for which you should apologize—whether you're a man or a woman. And the sooner we acknowledge that both men and women can have a wide range of emotions and allow them to express what they feel without judging them for it or calling them weak, the better.