Does upbringing affect views on emotions?

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, October 11th, 2018 at 8:22 AM

According to Time News and an article titled “Kids Believe Gender Stereotypes by Age 10,” 450 adolescents and their parents from across 15 different countries came to the same conclusion regarding what it means to be a boy or a girl. The deduction was simple: “We found children at a very early age — from the most conservative to the most liberal societies — quickly internalize this myth that girls are vulnerable and boys are strong and independent,” said Robert Blum, a professor at Johns Hopkins University. 

Upon reflection, the double standard between women’s and men’s emotions presented in the article did not rattle or even surprise me for a moment. However, to arrive at a better understanding of how this norm came to be, I interviewed several peers about their upbringing and what may or may not have influenced their view on gender roles, specifically in regard to emotions.  

Kyle, a 21-year-old man, works as a technician in Erie. When asked if he believes that men who cry are weak, his response was as follows: “No, I don’t believe men who cry are weak, because in my family structure I was not taught a difference between women’s and men’s emotions. For example, I have five siblings, [and] in total my family consists of three girls and three boys; I was never influenced from my parents or anyone else to respond differently to any of my sister’s crying compared to any of my brother’s crying. However, I would suggest that my brothers and I were harsher towards one another if one of us were upset, but just because one of us were crying, that didn’t make us weak.” 

Bethany, a 21-year-old woman, is a student at Edinboro University. When asked if she believes women who express anger are aggressive, she responded as follows: “I don’t feel that women who express their anger are aggressive. As women we are taught to not display aggression versus men who are encouraged to. For example, I notice with my brother that he is not under the same societal stress when it comes to being mad. I find this most relative in the workplace where I see the definitive boundaries in regard to emotions. For example, if I am quiet or not talking at work, my boss will ask questions that hint to my stability, thus, assuming that I must display a certain face and emotions to prove my place.”

Renee, a 21-year old woman, is a student at Edinboro University. When asked if she believes that women who cry are overemotional, she responded as follows: “I do not believe that women who cry are overemotional because it’s about a release of emotions [and] it’s not gender specific. It’s human nature to express any and all types of emotions. I leaned this from my experiences growing up, specifically in regard to what my mother taught me.”

All the questions I asked the interviewees were based on societal assumptions about gender stereotypes. A common thread that was presented in each interview was the fact that family experiences and social groups play a huge role in how people view and understand each gender’s emotions. Thus, I would allege that to rectify the double standard in our culture about women’s and men’s emotions, the first step starts within the four walls of our own homes. 

JoAllie Paluchak can be reached at

Tags: opinions, voices

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