Providing an introductory framework to the Special Issue: Gendering Happiness: the power of pleasure, here I consider the highly gendered and political contexts of happiness, pleasure, desire and the tyrannies of its converse discontents. As this special issue explores, pleasure and joy can be found in diverse contexts, but ones that are always intersectionally gendered and particularly situated. Just as the personal is political, happiness is not an individual, private emotion. Rather, such emotions are socioculturally situated, shifting through time and space, and embedded in normative social and moral codes regulating appropriate meanings of who should be happy, when and how that happiness should be performed. Moreover, normative processes of gendering within sociocultural patriarchal contexts or gender regimes can have significantly negative impacts on both women’s and men’s mental well-being. Through a gender analysis of happiness and its discontents, we are able to locate and critically interrogate the intersections of gender and power at play in this complex politicized and structural arena of emotion.