Monday, January 07, 2008

Emotions and Hillary Clinton

The headline asks: Can Clinton's Emotions Get the Best of Her?

This, and all the hullabaloo right now about her tears, must be placed in the context of months of articles about how Hillary Clinton appears too controlled, too cold, too ambitious. Only female candidates for the presidency are regarded as "too" ambitious, the boys are obviously expected to be just that ambitious. The subtext in all that worry about Clinton's likeability was of course about gender. Women aren't supposed to be cold and ambitious. That's what bitches are. On the other hand, men are supposed to be just that: cold and ambitious.

Then Hillary Clinton tears up, and the sky falls. Ohmygod, she cries! She might fall apart at a nuclear crisis and just sniffle away! This is a quote from the link above:

How voters weigh Clinton's composure may not differ between genders, according to Georgetown's Owens.

"Male voters are basically going to see a hysterical woman," said Owens. "Women are going to think that if Clinton is going to take on this responsible role and represent women in such a visible way she should do a better job of it and not expose the gender to this criticism."

So it's not about Hillary Clinton at all. It's about whether women are suited for public offices, being so very hysterical. Note that entering into bouts of red-hot rage is not seen a problem when nuclear crises hit, even if my own experience is that red-hot rage makes you considerably less likely to be careful than tears. But red-hot rage is an acceptable male emotional state, not regarded as making you a dangerous leader.

What really angers me (yes! emotional female here) about all this is that it took the media a very long time indeed to get one tiny episode of tears from Clinton, but then - boom - suddenly she is the weepy woman we cannot trust. And the reason I am angry is that I really didn't expect this level of shitty sexism. Always the naive goddess high on hope.