Women Lead Pendidikan Seks
June 12, 2015

Should Women Be Less Sensitive and More Rational?

Madge responses to a question on whether women should be discouraged from being sensitive and pushed to be more logical and rational.

by Magdalene

Dear Madge,
Am I a bad feminist if I’m ‘pushing’ women I know to be more logical and rational rather than being sensitive?
Dear @isidorusrio,

First off, let’s get this straight: being a feminist does not mean that we have to deny certain traits that are often linked to womanhood or (here’s a word I actually hate) femininity. But by saying that, in no way I agree with the notion that women are more emotional while men are more rational. The social construct we’ve been brought up in has always boxed men and women into a polarized world, on one end women being the sensitive and less rational creature, on the other men being the more logical and rational one – hence more capable to lead, so patriarchy says.
The fact is that sensitivity is not a bad thing. As a professional and a leader, and a human being, one gains a lot from having sensitivity. Sensitivity allows us to get in touch with the gift of self-awareness, self-regulation and empathy, and helps us navigate the social environment.
However, I do understand that you must be referring to the kind of sensitivity that may be manifested in things such as crying at work after being criticized by the boss, or not doing things for fear of being talked about by others. In this, I say go ahead and tell your friends not to take things so personally and to stop fretting about what others think.
But while we’re here, let me just state for the record that expressing emotion is not necessarily a bad thing. On the contrary, the inability to do so has been known to be the cause of so many psychosomatic diseases, as well as lifestyle-induced health problems like stroke, high blood pressure, and heart attack. And, unsurprisingly, men, who’ve been taught to repress their emotion since they’re little (“don’t cry like a girl!”), are the most to suffer from this. Also, showing vulnerability is not a weakness.  
Men too can be very emotional. I had a boss who easily lost temper and raised his voice at work. But, too often, people tolerate this kind of emotional outburst or temperament as a trait of manliness. If women who cry at workplace are frowned on, then men should also be discouraged from yelling at their subordinates or colleagues at the office.
Instead of telling your friends or colleagues to be more “rational and logical”, you can instead suggest that they channel their sensitivity to achieve more positive outcomes. Use rational and logical exercise to overcome the sort of challenges triggered by their so-called “sensitivity”. This applies to everything in life, from career, to social life, to romance.
For example, if they sense that their bosses are scrutinizing their work critically, use that as an opportunity to perform better and to defend themselves more strongly, if it ever comes down to that. Learn better ways to deal with gossipy people, for one by not giving a hoot about it. Also use their logic to understand the source that trigger people to gossip about them. Sometimes people talk about other people out of envy, and, I always believe that a gossip reflects more on the gossiper than the “gossipee”.
Don’t worry about being a good or bad feminist. We’re all in the same boat together, so just be supportive of women. God knows it’s hard enough already out there without being put down by others.
Hope that helps.
Got a burning question about something? Send it to [email protected] -- in English or Indonesian -- with the subject "Ask Madge" or tweet your question to @the_magdalene.