In a recent post, Young Female Entrepreneurs responded to Bethenney’s Fox 7 interview with Martha Stewart by asking their readers “Do you think it’s okay to cry?”
Martha contends that not only does she never cry in business, but that business is not worth crying over. She says, “It’s business, it’s not about emotion.” Is this true? When we pour our hearts into turning our passions into a business, how can it not be about emotion? I think emotion, especially for women, is a necessary part of what drives us and what makes us such passionate people. However, in business, where control is everything, there comes a point when emotion becomes a problem. Crying at work is considered inappropriate and you can severely damage your work reputation if you demonstrate a lack of emotional control. It’s not fair: not only are women more biologically and socially burdened with expressive emotion than men, but they are also expected to be more stoic than men to retain the same level of respect.
Do women cry more?
Everyone cries. In “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Stephanie Rosenbloom, both boys and girls cry the exact same amount until the age of twelve. But between the ages of twelve and eighteen, levels of the hormone prolactin (found in the tear glands) raises significantly in women so that by the time women are eighteen, they are crying four times as much as men. In addition, men tend to cry less because they have higher levels of testosterone. In fact, according to Bel Mooney in “Why DO women cry such a lot?,” women will spend about sixteen months of their lives in tears. Sixteen months!
As if it wasn’t bad enough that women are biologically more susceptible to crying, they are also socially conditioned to vent their emotions through tears. Men have been taught to repress emotion or to turn frustration into aggression (such as yelling or pounding tables.) Women, on the other hand, are often expected to be “more passive, more childlike” and are given no acceptable mode for reacting to anger except by crying.
What do we cry about though? Rosenbloom claims that “women are more inclined than men to feel the urge to cry when they are frustrated.” Meanwhile Jenna Goudrea in “Crying At Work, A Woman’s Burden,” says women are more likely to cry because of socialization. And Mooney attributes our tears to the increasing “stress of modern life.” Everyone is different, and we respond differently to various triggers. Our personal lives may impact how we react to an event, or our hormones may be all outta whack. Or, those like Martha Stewart may already have an incredible control over their emotions. All I have to say is that it seems mighty unfair that women have an “extra burden of emotional labor.”
Find out how crying affects your professional image and why you should fight back the tears in Part 2: Handling the Tears!