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Angry women taken less seriously than angry men (and that makes us angry)

If you’re thinking of voting for a woman to be president in 2016, according to rapper T.I., you might want to rethink that. As he told DJ Whoo Kid, he won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton because of all her lady feels. “Not to be sexist, but I can’t vote for the leader of the free world to be a woman. […] It’s kinda like, I just know that women make rash decisions emotionally — they make very permanent, cemented decisions — and then later, it’s kind of like it didn’t happen, or they didn’t mean for it to happen. And I sure would hate to just set off a nuke.”

Feeling a rage stroke coming on yet? Well, simmer down, ladies, because T.I. isn’t the only person who takes women less seriously because of our emotions. In fact, most people — other women included — may have this bias. According to a new study published in the journal Law and Human Behavior, people dismiss a woman’s thoughts and opinions if she shows anger, instead judging her to be illogical and ruled by emotion.

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Researchers asked 200 students to participate in a fake jury scenario, where they were presented with details from a real case in which a man was accused of slitting his wife’s throat. The prosecution called it murder, but the defense said it was suicide and that the wife had cut her own throat. The case was purposely left ambiguous so the students could realistically choose either side. They were then asked to write down their verdict and chat with other jurors about their decision.

The trick was that all the other jurors except one would agree with the subject, while the lone holdout would argue against their position, using either calm or angry words. When the dissenter was an angry man, the subjects became less confident in their own opinion and agreed with him, but when it was an angry woman, the opposite was true. The more emotion a woman showed, the less seriously the participants took her.

In other words: Bitches be crazy.

This idea of dismissing women as being irrational or crazy because of their (completely normal) feelings is not new. A study from earlier this year found that appearing angry during discussions at work costs women (but not men!) an average of $15,000 of perceived worth, and the effect can last throughout her career. Taken together, these show the real-world consequences of such dismissal. (And heaven help you if you’re a woman of color who dares to be angry!)

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“Expressing anger might lead men to gain influence, but women to lose influence over others (even when making identical arguments),” write the authors of the first study, who are both women. “These diverging consequences might result in women potentially having less influence on societally important decisions than men, such as jury verdicts.” 

At this point, it might seem wise to teach women how to express their ideas in a calm, unemotional way (and many articles have been written teaching women how to appear confident but not aggressive), but until that advice is presented to both women and men equally, I think it deepens the problem instead of fixing it.

So how about instead of telling women that our emotions are silly, frivolous things that must be contained or no one will listen to us, what if we just call this the crappy societal double standard that it is — and it needs to change, before we hulk out over this nonsense. (We’re coming for you first, T.I.!)

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