The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Love letters from Ana: Too Emotional


It’s an argument often used to debunk female leaders. Why can’t a woman be president of the United States? Because she’s too “emotional.” Women, in turn complain about man’s stoicism and emotional restraint. He just can’t open up to me. Are these colloquial complaints based in any truth? Why is it such a bad thing to be emotional and be a woman?

New York Times writer Julie Holland explored these topics in her recent opinion piece which claimed that a woman’s tendency to be more emotional than a man is indeed in her biological make up. However, she is being over-medicated for something rooted in her DNA. We are being pressured by psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry to repress something that is completely natural to us. In fact, at least one in four women in America now takes a psychiatric medication, compared with one in seven men. Women are also twice as likely to receive a diagnosis of “depression” or an “anxiety disorder” than men are.

This is not to say that some of these medicines do not help people. They definitely improve lives when required, but there is something to be said about the differences in men receiving this kind of psychiatric attention versus women. It is as if nothing has changed from the 19th century and the notion of “hysteria”—like “Yellow Wallpaper”-esque “hysteria”—is still a prevalent assumption of a woman’s psychiatric state.

Men are trained from a young age, that what makes a man, is control over his thoughts and emotions. Yet, to the psychiatry industry, men are considered mentally healthier than women for this repression. There is something severely wrong with the picture here. Women, are by nature, more empathetic.

“When we are scared, or frustrated, when we see injustice, when we are deeply touched by the poignancy of humanity, we cry,” Holland wrote in the article. “And some women cry more easily than others. It doesn’t mean we’re weak or out of control.”

In order to keep up and compete with a workforce or academic environment with men, women are beginning to think that they have to be stoic like men—go against their nature or they decide to self-medicate to deal with their influx of emotions they seem to find burdensome.

Holland wrote that a woman’s ability to be emotional and open is one of her greatest strengths. From a female college student’s perspective, however, I find it extremely difficult to keep my guard down and be a functional, contributive, put-together student on this campus at the same time. I think this is the case with many female students. We want to protect ourselves and our sanity because at one point or another we’ve all been at that place where we let the floodgates open and are shocked by the crap that our brains and feelings can produce.

It’s overwhelming and fantastic at the same time to know how capable you are of all these complex emotions, but it is not a state one can exist in all the time. The beauty of a woman’s tendency to be so susceptible to external forces is our ability to have a deep understanding for things beyond us. We can mourn over someone tragic in the news or the death of a friend’s family member in a very tangible manner.

“We need to stop labeling our sadness and anxiety as uncomfortable symptoms, and to appreciate them as a healthy, adaptive part of our biology,” Holland wrote.

While I agree with Holland’s piece, it is highly idealistic for a country ever-so-slowly getting ready for more female leaders, to exist with emotional women in power. Women feel we have to match men in emotions and mannerisms. It is, therefore, hard to execute such an embrace for our anxieties. We may claim that we don’t have the time for it or that we have to remain emotionless and unattached to be productive and minimize distraction and pain. Unfortunately, this seems to be the nature of a world not yet ready to accept a woman in power as she is—biologically and chemically a woman. Hopefully one day we will live in a world where women are not over-medicated and sedated for feeling.

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