Men and women: emotionally equal?

Men and women: emotionally equal?

Men and women think, act, behave, experience feelings and emotions in a different way ; this is what common sense states. Following this current of thought, the female and male brain structures would be different, as would the neuronal circuits.

In part it may be a truthful thought but how much is determined by purely organic differences and how much by learning?

This is an important skein to dissolve. Let’s not forget that what we are is the result of a multitude of factors ; partly genetic, partly socially determined. An emblematic example is the stereotype about the role of men and women in different cultures: albeit with great variations, the common denominator is profound differentiation.

It is true that men and women, for obvious biological reasons, have very different hormonal levels, which inevitably affect the brain and its development throughout life. The result of these differences are different cognitive and emotional skills , some more developed in women, others in men.

Cognitive differences

Some research shows that females enjoy better hearing, able to distinguish different nuances of the tone of voice. It seems that nature wanted to endow the woman with this gift because once mothers, they will be able to better distinguish the cry of their newborn baby. This directs them to be even more careful and fine in perceiving “how” a sentence is pronounced with respect to the content of the statement itself.

On the intelligence factor you could write an essay that would envy the Divine Comedy, from which you could then write the screenplay for a cult film. With all the limitations of the summary, I will try to clarify a little about it, without pretending to be exhaustive.

We assume that there is not one intelligence, but many intelligences . Obviously I do not support this but Gardner with his ” Theory of multiple intelligences “, from 1983.

According to the scholar there are different types of intelligence:

  • linguistic,
  • logical-mathematical,
  • musical,
  • bodily-kinesthetic,
  • space,
  • interpersonal,
  • intrapersonal.

More recent research has added others to the previous sects: naturalistic, spiritual, existential and moral. And let’s not forget, then, emotional intelligence (1990 construct, son of Salovey and Mayer). Having said that, it is understandable that one can be ” intelligent in different ways “.

Almost all the studies carried out on this topic have led to the same results, namely that men and women would have a very similar cognitive functioning in solving problems, if not with some difference in reference to specific skills.

Differences were found in verbal, numerical and visiuo-spatial skills . Women would have better skills in verbal aptitude tests (tests assessing language skills). Men, on the other hand, would be very skilled in the numerical and spatial context (which is assessed through visualization and mental rotation exercises).

These differences would be attributable to cultural and educational factors, since recent research shows that these differences tend to fade from generation to generation , thus suggesting an overcoming of educational prejudice, which saw women relegated to purely literary-humanistic studies and men to scientific-mathematicians.

In light of what has been said so far, it is very clear that the real differences would be in terms of emotional intelligence and therefore in terms of feelings and emotions.

Man and woman: emotional differences

To find the roots of emotional differences, it is necessary to go far back in time, more precisely to prehistory, when the roles of women and men were well defined; the first dedicated to the care of the offspring, to the preparation of the dishes obtained from the hunting booties of men, who instead had the task of procuring food and protecting the family.

This has made women skilled in reading the moods of others, in caring for and “managing the nest”.

They had to be able to understand their children’s signs and respond promptly to their needs, under penalty of survival and evolution of the species. On the contrary, men needed to be able to plan and solve problems from a strategic point of view. Obviously for them it was not functional to specialize on emotional states, the primary concern was in fact not to be attacked by predators.

All this has inevitably led to a differentiation in brain development . Here, then, that the emotional differences between man and woman are a legacy that comes from prehistory, and indeed, perhaps from even further away; therefore they would have a biological nature , they would be written in DNA.

Remember, however, that the nature of the human being is multifaceted, there are several factors that contribute to a single result . Everything that is biologically determined can undergo major mediations from social and environmental factors.

For each individual, childhood is the crucial moment of its existence

I’ll explain. For each individual, childhood is the crucial moment of its existence . In this period, in fact, he begins to write in the book of life who will be tomorrow, to lay the foundations of what will be in the future.

He begins to structure what will be his adult personality, his emotional kit of tomorrow . He cannot do all this alone; to help him are the reference figures, who in addition to protection, love, a sense of security, will also have the task of indicating the direction of his life path.

Let’s not forget, then, that there are still many cultural influences on the role of men and women in society, which at times take on the role of real prejudices. Whether they are right or wrong, it makes no difference; these precepts are forcefully inserted in the education of children . As for the management of emotions, therefore, the teachings are very different.

Referring to western culture, in childhood, until adolescence, the behavioral differences are very evident . In the game, male children organize themselves into large groups, are competitive, at times aggressive; they impose hierarchies. They communicate with each other through the use of physical force.

They are generally reckless, more inclined to take risks (you can also see it from how they use the bicycle), probably because they are less fearful of the consequences, or because of the unrealistic optimism that leads them to overestimate their skills. They hardly form strong bonds of friendship.

On the contrary, girls are oriented towards building solid bonds, true friendships; they come together in small groups within which they try to cooperate proactively.

The game, in this sense, becomes a social experience in all respects. They are more attentive to the dangers, as if, emotionally, they were able to anticipate the consequences of physical pain. For this propensity to empathy, they need and seek confirmation and social approval.


A biologically constituted genetic basis, combined with a specific education based on sex in childhood, inevitably reverberate in adult life, especially on the emotional-relational sphere . They also end up determining very different socio-relational skills.

To date, various researches are able to confirm differences – in some evident cases – between men and women in relation to emotional processes.

Research that would give women the gold medal in understanding emotional states and all those verbal and non-verbal cues associated with them. Reading facial expressions is another primacy of women.

This would make them more adept at understanding other people’s feelings related to those expressions, as well as expressing and communicating their own feelings. Furthermore, women would tend to experience emotions with greater intensity ; men, on the other hand, would seem more inclined to minimize them in particular: fear, guilt, resentment . In general, emotional states related to vulnerability.


“When I speak, you don’t listen to me.” “It is impossible to dialogue with you.” They are the catchphrases of almost all couples. The woman turns to the man with these affirmations, as if to underline a lack of empathy and participation in the couple’s life.

It is not indifference, it is not lack of love, it is not frivolity; simply, the game of the parts. Men and women are “set up” like this, by nature and by learning.

Man does not like to speak, he does not find value in discussion. He compromises only in the courtship phase, making himself more available to engage in dialogue. Over time, then, this predisposition to communication turns towards a sharing of experiences , events.

The gradual silence of the man could be determined by that hereditary naive optimism that gives him a rosy vision of the health of a couple , sometimes tends to blur those problems that instead are put under the magnifying glass by the woman.

The partner who wants a discussion about couple issues, and finds the partner completely relaxed and ready to dodge any type of conversation because he is convinced that everything is going well; in such opposite positions, conflict appears inevitable.

Furthermore, let’s not forget that it is by nature more difficult for man to read facial expressions indicating emotional states.

The woman often sentences the man as guilty of poor emotionality, imputing a total absence of empathy. Although, theoretically it may be so, let’s not forget that emotional men are just as often turned away from women themselves .

This entirely feminine contradiction arises from expectations about “being a man”, a concept to which a corollary of behaviors, attitudes and thoughts belongs. This expectation does not arise from nothing but is partly biologically determined and partly learned. For these reasons, it is difficult to get rid of it.

Obviously, what has been said so far is completely general. In fact, the infinite variables that I concur to constitute the person’s self are not taken into account . Each case is independent because each individual lives a life of its own and unique, completely different from any other, where events, the family context, but also the personality itself, bring about the uniqueness of the person.

At the expense of one’s sex, one might find oneself not in line with the characteristics that normally distinguish him.

The important thing to underline is that the differences are not inherently inequality , just as they do not relegate one part to the wrong and the other to the right. Being different is not the same as saying there is a better and a worse. It is thanks to the differences that the balance is maintained.

Discrepancies are fundamental to social groups in order to maintain internal stability. There is therefore a legitimacy and a value in the differences, even in those constituted culturally. Diversity should include an admiration of the other precisely because it is different, because it is from those who are different that one can learn, enrich oneself; and why not become better.

Since the couple is also considered a “social group”, it also benefits from the differences between the partners that make it up. It is important to know how to value and appreciate them, otherwise you will run the risk of becoming too far two banks of the river. The fate of the couple is in the hands of the partners, who as skilled negotiators must know how to mediate, compromise, find an agreement. They have to build a bridge to connect the two banks; only in this way can you be yourself in your own uniqueness while maintaining a bond with the other.

Especially in facing the difficult moments that each couple sooner or later finds themselves experiencing, in order to reduce the gap that gender differences create, both parties need to be detached from them. Only in this way can they walk towards each other, until they meet to fight the battles of life side by side . If this does not happen, the risk is that emotional contrasts can make the couple vulnerable until their destruction.

Love is the founding element of the couple but also much more is needed for it to work at its full potential : dialogue, understanding, indulgence, a sense of freedom to “be”. The couple needs intimate but also playful moments . The couple needs sharing but also differentiation.

“Once the awareness that even the closest beings continue to exist infinite distances, a wonderful life can evolve, side by side, if those beings manage to love this distance between them, which makes it possible for each of the two to see the other, in its entirety, silhouetted against the sky. ” – Rainer Maria Rilke

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