Blog | What’s emotion got to do with gender?

Times have changed, roles and identities are evolving and laws are made to establish equality. Why hasn't the mindset changed?

Illustration from freepik.

Shreena Nepal

  • Read Time 3 min.

In “The one with the male Nanny,”  episode 6 of the American television sitcom Friends, there is a conversation between Ross and Rachel, the two main characters of the series among the six. In the episode, Ross and Rachel want a nanny for their new born baby. So they interview a few people. At the end, there comes a male nanny and Ross becomes a bit annoyed with the fact of having the male nanny.  When Rachel defends him as being smart and qualified, Ross makes his argument by saying it’s weird and it wasn’t the kind of job a man should be doing. He even asks the male nanny if he was gay or bisexual. Later he admits that he was uncomfortable with men being sensitive and it was so because his father wanted him to have the so-called “manly attributes”.

Oxford dictionary defines emotion as a state of arousal that can be experienced as pleasant or unpleasant. Emotions can have three components. For example, fear can involve an unpleasant subjective experience, an increase in physiological measures such as heart rate, and a tendency to flee from the situation provoking the fear.  If you look at any other dictionary you can find similar definitions. 

Emotions are natural to human beings. The only unnatural thing is to link it with a gender perspective. Obviously biological growth might affect psychological development but what about emotions?  Since science has proved that no two human brains are similar to each other, how can we generalize the emotion of a particular brain? No two humans can ever live the same life.

Why are only men expected to be tough? Why are only men responsible for family expenses? Why is a woman expected to be sensitive, someone who understands and compromises everything for her family? Why are women expected to be confined within household jobs?

I came across a TikTok video made by a woman where she asks a few men if they were comfortable if their female partners were earning more than themselves. Some responded by saying that they were absolutely not comfortable and they would call off their relationship. One man responded that it was okay if she did earn more but he should be the responsible one for the family expenses. He particularly said: “my money is our money and her money is her money”. Men were too proud to let their partner spend on family expenses. Most of them admitted it is all about the male ego.

In her article “Do men always find it stressful to be in a relationship with a higher earning female partner?” Anna Daria Nowicka mentions Zbigniew Lew-Starowicz, a sexologist and expert of the “Zarobki bez tabu” (“earnings without taboos”) campaign as saying: “In therapy, women have no problem revealing who the family’s main earner is. There is a clear difference when it comes to men–they are reluctant to admit that their female partners earn more than them. Gender stereotypes are still going strong. Moreover, men who earn less than their partners feel uncomfortable and are inclined to read too much into the way their significant others treat them”.

Recently one of my friends and I were having a conversation and the friend said no matter how successful a woman is in her career, no matter how much she earns, she will be judged by her ability to make delicious food. People just state such odious statements without even thinking twice.

These so-called “masculinity” attributes constrain the capability of women in every way. Had Ruth Bader Ginsburg husband and her father-in-law and mother-in-law not been supportive we wouldn’t have been able to witness great landmark cases such as Ledbetter v Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, Califano v Goldfarb and so on.

A society is dynamic in nature. Can a society survive long if there’s no change and everything is monotonous? Sociologist Gerhard Lenski argues that with each advancement in the technology and the industry the relationship between human beings changes. 

Times have changed, roles and identities are evolving and laws are made to establish equality. Why hasn’t the mindset changed?

We need to realize that the more vulnerable we make women look the more they become so. There’s no such job that is allocated for a particular gender. We need to teach our and upcoming generations that emotions are driven by the nature of human beings which has nothing to do with gender. Let’s not limit the concept of equality to the pages of the constitution.