One of the things that strike when reading Chinese history is how everybody cries a lot. Not women; prime ministers, army generals, high officials are crying all the time. This is often used in historical shows to add dramatic flare.
When you ask people why is everybody crying, the answer tends to be “oh, they got emotional”. Emotion. What does that mean? It always struck me how this outbursts of emotion always happen when it’s convenient. See how all those Mandarins cry in front of the Emperor. Well that’s all they can do to express their will if the Emperor isn’t buying their arguments.
Think of a typical interaction. Emperor wants X, Mandarin doesn’t want X for whatever reason. Maybe he thinks it’s insane, and will bring disorder; or he think it will affect him personally and he doesn’t like that.
Emperor: I want X.
Mandarin: X is not a wise idea your majesty.
E: Shut up, I want X.
M: But your majesty, Confucius said blablablablanonXblablabla
E: Fuck that, I want X.
M: I brought 20 famous ministers to say that X is bad.
E: OK I’m getting pissed now, X or else.
What do you do now? Well you can accept defeat. Or you can cry. Fall to the ground and cry your eyes out.
M: Your majesty!! For the sake of the Sages of old, of the rules of your ancestors!! Please!!!
Now the point of crying, or “emotion” in general, is that it’s an involuntary bodily reaction, which signals that the person is so affected that usual brain operation doesn’t work anymore. It’s a way of calling attention to an emergency. This is serious stuff your majesty. I’m crying, you see.
For some reason outbursts of emotion are taken as some expression of a better, truer self. The brain is the rational, self-interested, scheming part, so when emotion takes over that’s by definition your not scheming, self-less, godly heart speaking.
But that’s crap, of course. Emotion is done in the brain. So by definition it’s computation. Your brain takes some inputs, analyzes them, and makes some output to further some purpose of yours. Sometimes the output says: Your majesty, X is not a wise idea. Some others, your brain judges that your purposes are better served by falling to the ground and crying our eyes out, while squeaking like a girl. Surely Emperors known to be merciful to weak people were more likely have people cry, while Emperors known for hating crybabies and flaying them alive didn’t have many mandarins cry at them.
This works of course for all other sorts of emotion. Anger only happens when anger is advantageous. See how everybody today soon gets filled with righteous anger at people who dare oppose gaymarriage, while 10 years ago nobody did. Opponents of gaymarriage are weaker now than 10 years ago, so being angry at them is advantageous. You get more of what you reward.
Same with offense taking. Offense used to be what rich aristocrats took when their reputation was questioned. Daring to suggest that a rich merchant was a crook made him really really offended, the more offended the more accurate the accusations. Also mere contact with low status commoners could make a high status person livid with offense. Today, offense is what women and protected ethnic groups feel when a white man dares say anything about them. Microagressions are felt because they are profitable for the microagressed.
Different emotional reactions depend on their perceived potential results, and that depends on the power relations. If you’re weak, you’re better off crying. If you’re strong, you’re better off getting angry. It doesn’t mean you’re faking it. Simply that everything happens for a reason. That includes your anger, your sadness, your happiness, and everything else you feel, especially when you express it to others.