Today, a laywoman panelist got a bit weepy at the start of her talk because she felt so touched to be able to present her paper at the conference. She seemed a bit embarrassed by her tears, but we fellow women in the audience totally got it. Most naturally and reflexively, the audience members started clapping to give her encouragement and she was soon able to continue. It was such a simple moment, but to me it really encapsulated the difference between how women and men respond to open displays of emotion. If we were a male audience, we might well have squirmed in our seats and reaffirmed our view that yes, women are overly emotional and irrational like that. In my own experience, when I have had moments of ‘losing it’ in front of male monks, even ones known for having lots of metta , I can sense how they immediately freeze up a bit and withdraw into themselves, then quickly throw out some nugget of wisdom to ‘solve the problem’ that presumably started the waterworks so sensible conversation could resume. But the way the nuns and other women in the audience responded this morning was totally different – to us, the presenter’s tears were totally not a big deal. We’ve all been overcome by emotion and had spontaneous outbursts like that. Nothing for us to feel uncomfortable about, and certainly nothing for her to feel chagrined about. A few moments later, the tears dried up, the presentations went on, and that was that. Crying is perfectly ok here. This is what is special about being among women and among nuns.