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Jewish World Review July 26, 2002 /17 Menachem-Av, 5762

Tom Purcell

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Study gives women permission not to hide their emotions | Get this: Women are more emotional than men.

In a study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, psychologists took groups of women and men and showed them evocative photos. Three weeks after viewing the photos, the women's recollections of them were 10 to 15 percent more accurate than the men's. Conclusion: a woman's brain is better organized to perceive and remember emotions than a man's.

And I'm shocked by this study's conclusion. See, we live in a time when it is taboo to suggest that men and women are different than each other. To suggest that women are more emotional than men is to somehow suggest that they are less equal. I believe you can get arrested for this.

But as shocking as the findings are, they are in line with my own life-long research on the subject. I was raised the only boy with five sisters and from early on I knew women were very different than men.

Take the common spider. When my sisters came across a spider, the Purcell household would erupt in great screaming and shouting. My father and I were roused from our sleep to track down the predator, kill it, then seek and destroy its friends, family, distant relatives, etc. No one got any rest until this impossible task was complete.

In fact, I got little rest as a child because of the frequent emotional outbursts in our household. I was yelled at for eating the last piece of dessert, for not taking out the garbage, for not changing the toilet paper roll when the toilet paper ran out. Though I'm proud of that last male achievement. I'm 40 years old and have never once changed the toilet paper roll.

As I got older and began dating, I learned more about how different the other sex is. The study also refers to the way girlfriends and wives, during arguments with us, rattle off everything we've done wrong since we crawled out of our mother's womb. This is because women have better memories than we do, and they remember better because they are more emotional. This is why no man has ever won an argument with any woman.

Anyhow, it truly amazes me that we have to do studies to conclude that women are more emotional than men, but we do. We do because there has long been a move afoot to pretend men and women are barely different at all.

Men used to call their friends "buddies" and drink beer, cuss and tell tall tales while playing poker, but now women do the exact same things. Baby showers used to be for women, but now men go and cackle louder than any woman; and it is the father, no longer the mother, who claps the first time junior uses the toilet to go number two.

One of the biggest shifts has to do with women in the workplace. A lot of women are driven by their careers. There's nothing wrong with that, but here is what is wrong. The tone of the workplace - the competitive, bland and impersonal tone - was shaped by the traditional male, and too many women have embraced this traditional maleness wholesale.

As a result, many women deny the fact that they are more emotional than men. They mimic men and, in the process, lose their femininity. This makes them unbearably cranky, which is why they cut you off on the beltway and greet you with the "we're number one" sign.

But I think they got it all wrong - I think we all do. Instead of having women subdue their femininity and emotions to adapt to the maleness of corporate America, maybe corporate America should adapt to women.

Take Enron. It was the avarice, greed and stupidity of the old boys that sunk the company. But it was the honesty and integrity of a handful of women that tried to prevent the disaster.

If our companies were more feminine and emotional, there would be more laughter, openness and honesty. You wouldn't see guys like former Enron CEO Ken Lay duck the sins of his company. No, you'd see him standing before the board, crying his eyes out and asking for his mommy, and we'd all be better off.

In any event, men and women ARE different. Women ARE more emotional than men. And thank Heaven for that.

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© 2002, Tom Purcell