Stereotypes and Display Rules
When women get angry, men treat them like they're hysterical. There was a situation recently where I was dealing with a man and kept getting no place and was told to call back twice by this man. Finally I said to my husband, here you take this call, I cannot deal with this man. My husband took the call and my husband was an angry man. I was a hysterical woman. The man called my husband back. I was treated like the secretary: well, call me back in five minutes. That's just the way it is.
—Anita, age 37
I am going to make a fairly provocative argument in this chapter: To help women adapt to their lower power and their role as child caretakers, cultures encourage them to express warmth and discourage them from expressing aggression. To help men adapt to their higher power and their role as providers, cultures encourage them to express aggression and discourage them from expressing vulnerability and warmth.
How do cultures regulate which emotions are appropriate for each sex to express? Culturally shared values about emotion are transmitted in the form of display rules, which are culturally shared norms that dictate how, when, and where we should interpret, experience, and communicate our emotional experiences. For example, display rules may constrain men from crying in public when they feel sad, or they may constrain women from shouting an obscenity when they get angry
Display rules tend to mirror cultural stereotypes about gender and emotion. Another way of stating this is that display rules are the prescriptive aspects of stereotypes, conveying the message that certain social consequences will ensue if we do not conform (Fiske 1993). For example, one display rule might be that women are required to smile when their friends beat them in a competition; if they don't, they may offend