It is not our biology but how we are socialised in the culture around us that determines how we express emotions.
Bittersweet melancholy, fiery rage, effervescent joy – emotions are a quintessential human experience. But from ancient times to today, social norms have limited our capacity to feel. Whether it's by being told to smile, having anger punished, or being called hysterical, women have been refused a full emotional spectrum. And toxic masculinity leaves men faring no better.
In her latest book Hysterical, Pragya Agarwal dives deep into the history and science of gendered and racialised emotions. Are there really innate differences between male and female emotions? What impact does this idea have, and how has it been used to justify the subjugation of women? Hear Pragya Agarwal together with Lisa Williams, as they explore how to build communities that allow us to feel our emotions in their fullness, beyond gender.
To access a transcript of this podcast, please head here.
Presented in partnership with Sydney Opera House.
Pragya Agarwal is a behaviour and data scientist and Visiting Professor of Social Inequities and Injustice at Loughborough University in the UK. She is the founder of a research think-tank The 50 Percent Project. Pragya has appeared on NPR, BBC Woman’s Hour, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, Australian Broadcasting Service, and Canadian Radio. Pragya is the award-winning author of (M)otherhood: On the choices of being a woman, Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias and her most recent book is Hysterical.
Lisa A. Williams is a social psychologist and Associate Professor at UNSW Sydney, whose research explores how emotions shape and are shaped by social processes. Her current research projects address emotional experience in the context of close relationships, prosocial behaviour, and blood donation. She is an advocate for gender equity—particularly in STEM—and currently serves as Associate Dean Equity Diversity and Inclusion in the UNSW Faculty of Science.