Men, Women, and Emotion

John Corrigan

in Business of the Heart

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780520221963
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520924321 | DOI:
Men, Women, and Emotion

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This chapter addresses the Victorian construction of the emotionality of women and men. The categories—masculine/feminine and private/public—were detectable with reference to boundaries that they drew through the social world as a whole. Domestic life was frequently referred to as a condition of self-denial and sacrifice. The distinctive feature of the Businessmen's Revival was that it saw the participation of many males to its prayer meetings. Male emotionality was progressively reconstructed as expressive, and men were encouraged to display their feelings more openly not only in the home but in various public settings as well. On the contrary, women remained cast as timid by nature, as dependent and intellectually weak. Their emotionality was regarded as the defining feature of their sex and was linked to impulsiveness and recklessness and they were expected to control and conceal their emotional nature. This kind of rhetoric about women's timidity and shallowness, a standard part of lectures, sermons, and journalism, seeped into women's own diaries as they tried to understand their lives. The varied styles of asserting women's capabilities as equal to men's generally tended to broaden and complicate the discussion, rather than focus it. The conclusion that Bostonians drew upon looking men's and women's bodies was about character and emotional makeup based upon the appearance of physical weakness, strength, beauty, and so on.

Keywords: Businessmen's Revival; male emotionality; prayer meetings; domestic life; women's timidity; shallowness

Chapter.  16284 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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