First, I must say that I’m no expert in emotional intelligence. At all. I merely have a superficial theoretical understanding of the subject, so I’ll be using simple and basic concepts here (because those are the only ones I have). But I think they’ll be useful for my point.
It’s very common, while debating with feminists or analyzing their arguments and attitudes, to discover elements of lacking or deficient emotional intelligence. I think that is no surprise to many of us. But while I was analyzing emotional intelligence as a whole, during a recent workshop I attended, I realized that the definition of poor emotional intelligence adjusts not only to feminists, but to feminism itself. That emotional illiteracy is almost a feminist requirement. Let’s go through a few aspects of that, and I invite you to debate and share your own ideas in the comment section:
According to Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence hast 5 components; 2 of them are especially interesting for this topic:
The first one is being able to identify your own emotions, and acknowledging that those emotions are yours. An external situation or action can “trigger” them to a point, but the responsibility doesn’t belong to that situation or action. It belongs to you. It’s you who makes the connection between the external situation and your emotion; you “fill the gap” with the “triggering” meaning, based on your personal beliefs (more on that later). A clear trait of poor emotional intelligence would be to think that the situation is directly responsible for causing that emotion on you, forgetting your own implication and responsibility in the process (“That is offensive!”, instead of “I find that offensive”. It would change the focus from the thing itself to “why do I personally find it offensive.”) One example of this could be the feminist concept of the “male gaze”. The idea the representations of women by men are “objectifying”. What is really going on here? Well, this is what I think: a certain woman sees a picture of an attractive model, scantily clad and in a suggestive pose. That vision makes a connection with her lack of self-esteem, her tendency to evaluate herself and compare herself to the model. Therefore, she feels physically evaluated by everybody (by the men who took the picture, particularly); she feels objectified. The feminist conclusion would be that these representations objectify women, because women objectify themselves when they see them.
The second element from Goleman’s list would be being able to recognize other people’s emotions, without projection. That is, being able to understand how the other person feels, not thinking how you would personally feel in that situation. Example: a woman doesn’t understand why her boyfriend doesn’t react to bad news in the same way as her; she therefore believes that he’s suppressing his feelings. “I’m sure he’s feeling the same I’m feeling, he just doesn’t express it the way I express it because he’s emotionally crippled”. Feminist conclusion: men don’t know how to express their feelings, because we think they express them just like us. Tom Golden would have a lot to say on this.
Now, let’s talk about our belief system, because it plays a major role in emotional intelligence. Beliefs would be a series of judgements, assumptions, convictions and axioms that we don’t question, that we take for granted. Things like “I must seek love and approval”, “It’s bad that things don’t work out exactly as I would like”, or nice things like “Patriarchy”. These beliefs are the “meaning” that external situations trigger on us, thus inducing emotions. And we can’t forget that beliefs seek confirmation and justification. We will subconsciously seek examples and situations that confirm that we are right in holding those beliefs. Feminists will look for examples of abusive men towards women to justify their belief on Patriarchy. They will even ignore situations that contradict those beliefs, or justify them with new beliefs that fit their belief system (“Patriarchy hurts men too”), or even hide and manipulate the data.
But how do we form a belief? Basically, you need three elements: an idea, an experience, and an emotion. Let’s examine an example. A friend of mine told me that “all men are pigs”. That’s the idea. Now, I meet a man who happens to be a pig. That’s the experience. He makes me go through a terrible experience. The emotion. If I later meet another man who is also a pig, and who also makes me go through a terrible experience, I’ll slowly begin to think that men are, indeed, pigs. Equally, every case of violence or murder of a woman by a man, broadcasted by the media, will support my belief that men systematically abuse and murder women. The media refusing to show the existing opposite evidence plays a huge role, as well.
Of course, it comes to a point when your belief system is almost impossible to modify (especially if you based your whole life and career on it). But it’s necessary. If those beliefs are making you feel bad constantly, because of external situations or facts, while you directly blame those situations for the negative emotions you’re feeling, you should really consider changing something. And the only thing you can change is your beliefs. “Maybe not all men would rape me if they could”, and therefore I will stop feeling fear every time I walk on the street.
Now, we will make a distinction between two very important pairs of concepts:
First, we can differentiate between a “narrow mental filter” and a “broad mental filter”. A narrow mental filter is one that is filled with beliefs, which guide and limit our vision of reality. It works as horse’s blinders (those things they wear so they can’t look sideways, just forwards). We are doomed to have a distorted perception of reality. If in my head I just have a “white” box and a “black” box, I’ll probably think that whatever isn’t white, must be black. On the other hand, a broad mental filter is devoid of that excessive belief, which gives us a broader perception of reality and lets us appreciate its multiple shades. I think you’ll agree that “narrow mental filter” is usually a good synonym of “feminism”. They try to be inclusive and broad, but in a horribly exclusive and narrow way. It’s fascinating, in a bad way.
Lastly, we could consider two sides of the same coin: fear and motivation. Both can be reactions to a challenging situation. While fear paralyzes and blocks us, motivation gives us a motive; it makes us move (it sets us in motion). There is a list of feelings that separate us from motivation and make us sink into fear and inaction. I was astonished to discover that almost all of them are inevitable consequences of feminism:
- Feeling of victimization: inevitably, if your whole belief system revolves around the idea that your gender has always been and still is victimized by the opposite gender, you’ll constantly feel like a victim.
- Feeling of obligation: another usual feeling among feminists. Feeling forced to “be inclusive” in your language, to watch everything you say or do, to discard things that you actually like for them being sexist or “perpetuating harmful gender roles”, or to embrace things you don’t enjoy because your beliefs tell you it’s “the right thing to do”.
- Complaint: I don’t think this one needs explanation.
- Guilt: a feeling that appears when your self-image fails, when you think you are one way (or you want to be one way), but then you discover that you are that other way. It’s inevitable for feminism to sink into guilt, as they insist on denying any differences between men and women. If you think you must feel attracted to nice guys, but then catch yourself drooling over a bad boy; if you think that “you don’t need no man”, but then you feel jealous of all your engaged friends… whenever you catch yourself behaving differently than how your beliefs dictate, guilt is unavoidable.
- Resentment: this is similar to guilt. Resentment appears when the image you had of another person collapses. It appears when the other person wasn’t really the way we thought he was (or the way we wanted him to be). And when our image of another person, which was based on our personal beliefs, crumbles, feminists absolutely can’t afford to choose the emotionally intelligent reaction: change your beliefs, and thus your image of that person. No, they sink into resentment, and division. They talk about “feminisms”, in plural, for a reason. SJWs end up critizing and ostracizing each other for a reason.
These were just a few basic aspects of emotional intelligence that match feminism quite well. I’m sure there is a lot more to say on this. Feel free to add anything to the discussion.
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