Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Fear of Female Tears

I don't like Hillary Clinton's politics. I don't want her to be the Democratic nominee. I think she's the anti-change candidate. She doesn't want to get Americans' hopes up; she doesn't want to commit to the kind of change Obama is pushing; she is hoping that Americans will go for "experience" over inspiration and vision.

That said, I have to say I am disgusted with the way the media and large parts of the blogosphere have been treating Clinton. In three little words, she can't win. She is excoriated endlessly for being too cold, too stiff, too unapproachable. She should show her human side, her vulnerable side, her "feminine" side. And then, when she does exactly that -- responds with emotion when asked by a New Hampshire voter how she "keeps upbeat" on the campaign trail -- she is mocked, attacked, and accused of faking tears to get sympathy votes.

That's why, imho, assertions that Clinton won the New Hampshire primary because the women of New Hampshire "felt sorry" for her, or because seeing her cry made her seem more "human" are wrong. It wasn't the crying that influenced voters in her favor -- it was the reaction to the crying in the media. As Kevin Drum put it this morning, Clinton's "emotional moment ... was on virtually a continuous loop on every cable news channel in the country for the past 24 hours."

The first comment under Kevin's post makes the point even more bluntly: "... The idiots in the media who were quick to decree that she was 'cracking' and heading towards a meltdown in NH instead drove sympathetic voters to vote for her."

If the right-wing bloggers and the op-ed columnists and the newspaper editors and reporters had just written about Clinton's moment of vulnerability when it happened, and then dropped the subject instead of airing the video endlessly for the next 24 hours and pontificating on What It Meant, there would have been no need to push back against the misogynistic assault on the woman for the crime of letting down her guard for 60 seconds because of an unexpected personal question.

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