Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gender equality and crying

As we all know “Boys don’t cry” yet it would seem there are exceptions… Glenn Beck and John Boehner. Now, I’m not going to suggest these right wing leaders (and make no mistake Glenn Beck is a leader of the Right) are “girlymen” or crybabies. No, I want to know why their tendency to cry in public has not been ran up a flag pole and pointed to as an example of unelectibility, brittleness, a lack of seriousness, inability to be a leader, etc?
Specifically, I wonder this because there was another politician who cried and was darn near crucified for it. Hillary Clinton, now secretary of state, teared up in a coffee shop during her primary campaign. This was front page news, CNN and Fox were fixated on maybe a milliliter of liquid on Hillary’s cheek. By contrast Glenn Beck has cried a river and Rep. Boehner at least a cup. What is the difference? Perhaps it is that Hillary is a Democrat, after all Ed Muskie, another Democrat, was brought down by being caught with moisture on his cheeks while defending his wife from nasty personal attacks. If this is the case donkeys cry because they are overly sensitive and weak on defense, whereas elephants cry because they are passionate.
Yet I would like to suggest another possibility—Hillary was singled out in a way two men involved in politics were not because she is a woman. There is still a assumption that women are more emotional than men, and that emotionalism might cloud a female leader’s judgment. Thus Hillary’s tears validated this stereotype.
This is an additional burden female leaders bear, not only must they be good at what they do, but they need to go out of their way to be the opposite of gender stereotypes. At the same time male leaders can have an out and out cry-fest without fear of electorial repercussions.
Any thoughts?