Men, the emotional sex

It is just patently absurd to say women are more emotional than men. Men commit 25 times the murders; it’s shocking what the numbers are. And if anyone ever sees a woman with road rage, they should write it up and send it to a medical journal. -Ben A. Barres

Men are too emotional to have a rational argument
What I want to talk about is how emotional outbursts typically more associated with men (shouting, expressing anger openly) are given a pass in public discourse in a way that emotional outbursts typically more associated with women (crying, “getting upset”) are stigmatized.
I wish to dispel the notion that women are “more emotional.” I don’t think we are. I think that the emotions women stereotypically express are what men call “emotions,” and the emotions that men typically express are somehow considered by men to be something else.
This is incorrect. Anger? EMOTION. Hate? EMOTION. Resorting to violence? EMOTIONAL OUTBURST. An irrational need to be correct when all the evidence is against you? Pretty sure that’s an emotion. Resorting to shouting really loudly when you don’t like the other person’s point of view? That’s called “being too emotional to engage in a rational discussion.”
Not only do I think men are at least as emotional as women, I think that these stereotypically male emotions are more damaging to rational dialogue than are stereotypically female emotions. A hurt, crying person can still listen, think, and speak. A shouting, angry person? That person is crapping all over meaningful discourse.

What egg donation taught me about being a dude
During this whirlwind tour of human hormonal states, I got a pretty good idea of what it might be like to be a dude. And it was awesome, and involves some useful realizations about living with your lady-hormones. Here’s what happened, in order:
• I had to take birth control pills for 10 days or so. They made me feel fat, stupid, and suicidal; my boyfriend at the time drove me all around Brooklyn in the middle of the night in search of rice pudding, the only food I could tolerate. We found some in a gas station in Fort Greene. Mmm, delicious gas station rice pudding!
• Then, I stopped the pills and felt better within a day; I started taking Lupron, which shuts down estrogen production. Egg donation is an overwhelming panoply of drugs and schedules — I had signed off on a medication regimen diligently explained by a nurse, I had been through injection lessons in which I plunged a syringe into a rubber thigh (kinky!), and I had just recently been obsessed with rice pudding and with wanting to die, so I didn’t really pay attention to what I was suddenly shooting up with. For some reason, I had to talk to a nurse from the California, and I became very angry about something very trivial, and actually yelled at her on the phone. She said, “Jennifer! Shut up! Your estrogen’s in the toilet, that’s why you’re angry.” I shut up.
• Over the next couple of days, though, I became the happiest I had ever been. Any hate I would normally have turned inwards, I turned outwards towards others. I walked around feeling calm, content. Confident. As though I had a protective bubble around me, and whatever silly things people on the outside did were just little noises and motions emanating from a dim, faraway television that was easily ignored. I became gruff; I barked at servicepeople. But even when I was rude to others, inside I was deeply content.
• The boyfriend and I broke up. Gloriously, I didn’t care very much. Yet, having a reasonable theory of mind, I was aware that I normally would care very much. I thought to myself, “Wow, I have been poisoned by estrogen for a decade,” and “Can I keep taking this stuff?” It was easy to see how the calm, content, protected bubble could be a huge advantage in nearly every profession that doesn’t involve infant care.
• In the final stage of the egg donation process, I began injecting estrogen itself, at which point I became a walking sexist stereotype. Imagine a lady Jesus who, instead of taking on everyone’s sins, took on the PMS of all of the women in the world. That’s what happens when you put a healthy 25 year old woman on extra estrogen. In my real life, I cry maybe twice a year. Not often. After a week on estrogen, I wept (not just cried — wept!) on an airplane when served an undesirable variety of peanuts.
After the eggs were finally extracted from my swollen, overstimulated ovaries, I couldn’t let go of the idea that so much of what we consider our personalities — our true, inner selves — is really just hormones.

What if women ran wall street?
Here are a few things we know about testosterone: Both men and women produce it, but men make fifteen times as much of it as women, on average. It causes all sorts of physical differences—in body hair, muscle mass, jawlines, and so on. Behaviorally, it does all the things that one would expect: It is linked to increased aggression and dominance, confidence, hostility, violence, sensation-seeking, and the searching out of mates (“I felt like I had to have sex once a day or I would die,” Drew—formerly Susan—Seidman told The Village Voice, after having testosterone injections as part of his transformation from a woman to a man). One of the most fascinating things about testosterone is the way it can be influenced by the environment. A man who stays home with his kids, for example, is likely to see his testosterone level drop over time. Testosterone varies throughout the day, peaking in the morning and gradually ebbing through the afternoon. Perhaps not surprisingly, single men have higher levels than married men. If you eat more meat, it tends to be higher. As it does when a man is in the presence of an attractive woman, or looking at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Or in a highly competitive environment with other guys, like a rugby game—or the Bear Stearns trading floor.

Another study Dreber has in the works will look at the effects of the hormones in the birth-control pill on women, because women having their periods have been shown to act more like men in terms of risk-taking behavior. “When I present that in seminars, I say men are like women menstruating,” she says, laughing.

A self-described math nerd, Nancy Davis was head of Goldman Sachs’ proprietary derivatives-trading desk for five years. “I think generally, women are more likely to admit that they’re wrong, faster. I think there’s less ego for whatever reason with women traders, the ones I know at least,” she says. She made a habit of keeping her boss in the loop on every trade—something she calls having “buy-in.” “If there’s a position going sour on me, I’m not going to sit and say, ‘I know what’s best.’ It would make me want to raise my hand and get advice from other people. It’s like asking for directions when driving.”

During the IPO heyday of the late nineties, before he became a full-time scientist, Coates was running a trading desk at Deutsche Bank. “Male traders were acting odd during the bubble,” he recalls. “They were displaying what we call clinical symptoms of mania. They were delusional, euphoric, overconfident, had racing thoughts, a diminished need for sleep.” One of his colleagues—a “kid” with a general-arts degree and $500,000-a-year salary—quit his job to start a nebulous Internet company. “I asked him what the Internet company would do, and he said he didn’t know yet,” Coates says. Meanwhile, the few women on the desk seemed mostly unaffected by the frenzy. “The guys had their eyes rolling back in their heads, desperate to get involved in what some genius was up to, and the women just didn’t buy into it.”
Positioning himself as a sort of endocrine whisperer of the financial system, Coates argues that if women made up 50 percent of the financial world, “I don’t think you’d see the volatile swings that we’re seeing.” Bubbles, he believes, may be “a male phenomenon.”

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