What exactly does it mean to be an introvert? Well, introversion in the simplest terms is gaining energy from being alone, while extroverts gain energy from being around people. Susan Cain, the author of the book The Power of Introverts” defines introversion as “people who prefer quieter, more minimally stimulating environments.”A lot of people don’t really know what introversion is because it is rarely the main focus in the media. A lot of people associate the qualities of extraversion with the qualities needed to be successful. Extroverts are shown in movies and on TV much more often than introverts, which perpetuate this stereotype. Characters that people think are introverts are actually just shy, and characters that actually are introverted are portrayed on the more extreme part of the spectrum. This is especially true with introverted women. Even though there are fewer introverts than extroverts, introverted women aren’t adequately represented in the media because introversion isn’t usually focused on, and when it is, most introverts are portrayed by men.
Before I get into the details of introverted women, I want to clarify what introversion isn’t. Something that a lot of people don’t realize is that introversion and shyness aren’t the same thing. When I was younger, I was incredibly shy; I had such bad social anxiety that I would hide under the table at parent-teacher conferences, and make my self sick at the idea of going to a birthday party where I didn’t know everyone. Luckily, I have outgrown that shyness as I’ve gotten older. A lot of people mistake shyness for introversion, or vice versa, or even think that they go hand-in-hand, but as someone who has experienced both, I can tell you that they are very different.
How Introverted Men and Women Differ From Each Other
Time Magazine interviewed Susan Cain about her knowledge of introverts. In the interview, Cain explains the differences between introverted men and women. She discusses not only how men are slightly more likely to be introverted, but also how gender norms affect how introverted men and women are viewed differently by society. She mentions both ends of the spectrum for both sexes. Men are expected to be more dominant and in charge, but the idea of the “strong, silent type” is also accepted by a lot of people. Women’s gender norms are evolving more quickly than men’s, so while some people expect women to act shy, they also expect them to be social, and be in charge of making everyone feel comfortable.
The website Introvert Spring touches on the differences between men and women.
“How many of you have heard a friend say, with a chuckle, “dad is pretty quiet, but my mom will talk your ear off”? Or, perhaps they warmly relate how grandpa used to hide out on the roof with a book whenever guests came over. Can you imagine how people might react if it was grandma on the roof? They would probably think she was crazy, depressed, or incredibly rude. In any case, I doubt they would find her actions endearing.”
How Introverted Women are Portrayed Online
When looking up introverted women online, there are some sources that are really helpful, like the website Introvert Spring, and the article “23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert” from Huffington Post. Introvert Spring is a blog written by Michaela Chung. Michaela originally started the blog because she felt misunderstood, and ashamed to be an introvert. Figuring that other introverts felt the same way that she did, she started the blog to let people know that it is ok to be an introvert. The article “The Challenges of Being an Introverted Woman” discusses several different aspects including the different ways that extroverted women and introverted women are portrayed in TV shows and movies and “society’s obsession with chatty women”.
“23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert” from the Huffington Post is a list of qualities that introverted people often have, even if they don’t fit the stereotypical characteristics of an introvert, which generally focuses solely on the social aspect of introversion. It discusses how a lot of people don’t even realize that they are introverts, because they don’t fit the stereotype. Introversion is gaining energy from being alone, instead of in a group, and finding being in a group for a long time to be tiring, even if they enjoy the company of the people they are with. The article goes in to characteristics and details that are often found in introverts, instead of just being antisocial or shy, which is what a lot of people think introversion is.
Are Introverts Less Happy than Extroverts?
There are many times throughout my life when I’ve been told to be more outgoing and social because it will make me happier. This is often said to me by extroverts who feel happiest in a crowd, and hate being alone. The idea that introverts are depressed is a common idea that is encouraged by the media associating depression with the qualities of introversion. The scientific journal “Personality and Individual differences” published a study looking into this in 2001 called “Happiness, Introversion-Extroversion and Happy Introverts”. They tested 270 participants using the Oxford happiness index and the extraversion and neuroticism sub scales of the Eysenck personality questionnaire to see if happiness is related to introversion and extraversion. The study found that “the variables that appear to be most closely associated with happiness are life regard, self-esteem, life orientation and mental stability.” The qualities associated with introversion and extraversion like “empathic and affiliative tendencies and preference for solitude” had no significant relationship to happiness.
TV and Movies
It is hard to find good examples of female introverts as the main character in TV shows and movies. There aren’t a ton of introverted characters to start out with, and those who do exist are mostly men. In Huffington Post’s list “8 TV Characters Who Explain What It Means To Be an Introvert”, only two of the characters that are listed are female, and only one of them was a main character. One of the struggles of showing introversion on-screen is that a lot of characteristics or introverts aren’t necessarily visual characteristics, but show themselves in how introverts think. Some examples of this are how overwhelmed and exhausted introverts can feel when they are around a lot of people.
One of the best portrayals of an introverted woman on TV is the character Rory Gilmore in the show Gilmore Girls. Throughout the series Rory was shown to enjoy spending time just reading and being alone. Although Rory is clearly shown as an introvert, her mom Lorelai is extremely extroverted. Despite their differences, Rory and Lorelai clearly have a very close relationship, unlike the strained relationship that Lorelai has with her parents.
I find the difference in relationships between Lorelai and Rory, and Lorelai and her parents to be really interesting because it shows how sometimes a difference in personality types is more compatible than similar personality types. Lorelai and her mother are both very extroverted, and because of that, they often clash. On the other hand, Lorelai’s extroversion and Rory’s introversion balance each other out. I also found Rory’s awkwardness at meeting new people to be very revealing into her level of introversion. I felt like I could really relate to her in those situations.
Amelie is a French movie that was released in 2001, about a shy, introverted woman who discovers that she really enjoys helping people. Throughout the movie, she finds ways to help other people without directly interfering, but she ends up neglecting her own happiness. Amelie also does a good job of showing introversion in a positive light. Although she is quirky, her introversion isn’t viewed as a flaw, or something that needs to be fixed. The filmmakers did a good job of showing the parts of introversion that aren’t always seen, through visuals that represented Amelie’s imagination. Since Amelie is both extremely introverted and shy, many people may identify with different parts of her personality but she is a little bit harder to identify with as a whole.
When I first started researching this topic, I expected to find a lot more negative information about introverts than I ended up finding. Instead, I found that it was hard to find any type of representation of female introverts in the media at all. There are a lot of different ways that people experience introversion. Unfortunately, since there aren’t very many portrayals of introverted women in the media, they aren’t all represented. I think that I expected more negative representation, because the constant representation of extraversion creates the appearance that extraversion is “normal”, and that introverts are weird, or there is something wrong with them. It seems to me like the media has started becoming more willing to show introverts in a positive light, and hopefully that pattern will continue in the future.
To me, one of the most influential things that we talked about in class is when we learned about Wikipedia. I had no idea that people put so much time and energy into writing and maintaining pages so that they have accurate information. I was always taught that Wikipedia wasn’t an accurate source, but now I know that the information on there is a lot more reliable than people realize. Another important thing that I learned about this quarter was analyzing advertisements. I had no idea that there were so many different components that had to be thought out when creating an ad. The ability to analyze an ad makes it easier to look objectively at whatever is being promoted, and help learn the intentions of the creators.
Hills, P., & Argyle, M. (2001). Happiness, introversion–extraversion and happy introverts. Personality and Individual Differences, 30(4), 595-608
Jeunet, J. (Director). (2001). Amélie [Motion picture]. France: UGC-Fox Distribution.
“Q&A with Susan Cain on The Power of Introverts”, by Maia Szalavitz, Published 1/27/2012 http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/27/mind-reading-qa-with-susan-cain-on-the-power-of-introverts/
Sherman-Palladino, S., & Palladion, D. (Writers). (2000-2007) Gilmore Girls [Television series]. The WB, The CW.
“The Challenges of Being an Introverted Woman”, by Michaela Chung http://introvertspring.com/why-introverted-women-are-less-accepted-than-introverted-men/#respond
“23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert”, By Carolyn Gregoire, Published 8/20/2013 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/introverts-signs-am-i-introverted_n_3721431.html,