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Being emotional is not a sign of weakness for women or men

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From Jacinda Ardern to Captain Marvel, we're beginning to see how expressing emotions can be a strength for both genders.

For the longest time, emotions have been characterised as symbols of weakness. 

As women are usually more in tune with their emotions, they are often stereotyped as irrational beings. It is the classic argument against appointing women as leaders – there is a fear of emotions getting in the way of getting things done. 

How often are men told to 'man up' when faced with emotional turmoil? Why does an outward display of emotion make them 'less of a man', as if it was an effeminate quality? 

Because of this, men are traditionally conditioned to repress their emotions, which in turn affects their mental health. 

However, perceptions toward emotions may be changing as more female figures are proving that an outward display of emotions can be more help than hindrance. 

New Zealand's Prime Minister uses emotional prowess to lead 

On March 15, 2019, dozens of Muslims were killed in mass shootings during their Friday prayers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. 

Hateful crimes costing lives occur so frequently all over the world, and leaders often respond with mere "thoughts and prayers"

The way Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, responded to this unfortunate event was beyond exceptional. 

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Jacinda Ardern urged the public to remember the names of the victims, instead of the man who took their lives.
PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM TWITTER

She chose not to mention the name of the terrorist, who live streamed his killing spree for the Internet. Instead, she implored people to remember the stories of the victims and their families. In doing so, she rendered the families of the fallen emotional support and reassurance. 

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Following her lead in wearing a symbolic headscarf, women in New Zealand showed their solidarity with the Muslims in their community and the families of victims.
PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM TWITTER
 

Not only did Jacinda Ardern show her solidarity by offering emotional support for the affected community, she also made sure to take immediate reformative action for a national tragedy. 

In less than a week following the shooting, she called for a ban on all semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles in the country. 

Jacinda Ardern is living proof that an outward display of emotions and rational decision making are not two mutually exclusive traits. 

Captain Marvel shatters the notion of emotions as a sign of weakness 

Another female figure that has been making waves is the long awaited Marvel superhero, Captain Marvel, who recently hit the big screens. 

While I did not particularly enjoy Captain Marvel as a part of the Avengers series (I blame its slow plot development), its theme of finding strength in emotions stood out to me. 

When Vers (Brie Larson) is training to be a Starforce soldier, her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) always chides her to control her emotions or she would be susceptible to defeat. She eventually frees herself from these restraints, realising the full extent of her power fuelled by her emotions.

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During the climax, Captain Marvel realised that the people holding her back were afraid of what she could accomplish with her emotions.
PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM TWITTER
 

This climax of her finally becoming Captain Marvel is followed by my favourite line of the movie: "I am only human." 

Coming from the strongest Avenger, this line was so powerful because it presents the idea that real strength can be found even in vulnerability.  

Men should not be excluded from this conversation 

From the examples mentioned above, it may seem women have an edge over men as they are more in touch with their emotions. 

However, I feel that being emotional should not be a trait exclusive to women. As Captain Marvel asserted, it is a universal, natural human phenomenon. 

Granted, showing emotions can be a vulnerable act. If we can use this vulnerability to our advantage, we can all connect to each other better as humans, and in turn, build stronger relationships with those around us. 

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Men and women all over the world see Jacinda Ardern as an exemplary leader.
PHOTO CREDIT: SCREENSHOT FROM TWITTER

It is heartwarming to see these harmful stereotypes take a turn for the better in this volatile world. We need to recognise that our own ability to use emotions can be a source of strength for ourselves, and also for the people around us.  

It is about time we fully embrace our emotional capabilities, and not fear showing some extra love and empathy.

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