I have had this half-written rant hanging around for a couple of days, so I'm going to finish it and post it just because I am still hearing about it all the time. What are we ranting about today?
Hillary Clinton "crying".
People, I cannot believe how much I am hearing about this. A little crack in the voice, and everyone's all up in arms. Allow me to list my complaints.
John Edwards jumped all over the chance to make this thoughtful statement: "I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business." Yes John, we know you have a penis and therefore would never cry. Tears obviously equal weakness. Way to represent the most stereotypical viewpoint one could possibly take on this issue.
Of course, this statement is not specifically sexist - he doesn't refer to her gender. It's just implied. And it's such a patronizing thing to say that I just can't see it any other way. Obama, meanwhile, said something classy about how he knows the race is a difficult process and he doesn't feel a need to comment. And that's why he's what he is, you know?
Also, if any male candidate had done precisely the same thing, or perhaps even actually shed tears
, people would have been inspired by their passion. When a woman does it, it's an issue of either weakness or manipulation.
Speaking of which, were the tears genuine or not? Who cares! Acting a little is not the worst political sin I can think of. I feel many people need to get some perspective, here. I'm pretty sure the emotion was genuine, and completely reasonable, too.
That's another thing. This woman cannot win. Most of the time, she's characterized as cold and hard, unfeeling, unfeminine, etc. But the second she demonstrates just the teeniest bit of emotion, which people criticize her for lacking, she's suddenly a wimpy, emotional little girl. Or she's calculating and manipulative, crying to get votes.
I saw some bloggers criticizing the people (women, especially) who voted for her because she cried. I don't really believe most people voted for her because she cried. If people were swayed by emotion, I think it had more to do with their own feelings about that dichotomy, and how public opinion about Hillary reflects where women really are in our culture. During a discussion about the primary, a sixth-grader told me about a sign in a local store that says "Hillary: Two fat thighs, two small breasts, and one left wing." (His class and I had a long conversation about that sign, and political discourse, as a result.) It's still fair game to dissolve everything you think about a woman down to her body as a piece of meat
, just because you're not a fan of her beliefs or politics or whatever. It's okay to talk about a woman who is obviously very intelligent and competent (regardless of whether you like her or not) as if she is a clueless weakling, just because she cried a little. That is where my emotion on this issue comes from.