Monday, January 7th, one of the top news stories, played again and again, showed Hillary Clinton being, just a bit, emotional. Newscasters had a range of responses – some were appalled, some shocked, some bewildered, some surprised, some confused, some concerned. All of them felt this was a bad thing!
But what exactly did Hillary do? Did she cry and sob? Nope. Did she break down? Nope. Did she shed tears? No. (They said she was teary, but not once did she brush away a tear or blow her nose!) Did she have a slight catch in her throat when making a statement? Yes. Hillary said one of the most authentic and honest statements in this campaign: “I’m running for President because I just don’t want us to go backwards!” Like many of us, Hillary has watched so much that makes our country great being destroyed, so many gains that have been hard won, being tossed aside. Jesus wept over Jerusalem. Hillary had a slight catch in her throat over America!
What’s the problem with emotions? What’s the problem with the newscasters? There’s a form of sexism going on with their responses. Although sexism can be defined in many ways, and contains many different elements, there are two to mention in this blog. Sexism says that women are supposed to be in the home, in private space and family space. Men are to be in the public square – making policy, showing leadership, taking charge. We have come a long way on this in the last 40 years, although by no means have we cracked all the glass ceilings. Hillary had to endure another sexist comment the morning of the New Hampshire primary, when a man in the crowd shouted “iron my shirt!” Subtext – “get out of the public square and back in the home doing housework where you belong!” We can be sure that Hillary is used to this, but it does tell us that as things heat up, some of these sexist comments will start coming to the forefront.
Sexism also says that men are reasonable and logical, which is good, and women are too emotional, which is bad. Therefore women can’t be trusted in the public square, where the light of reason must prevail. So, anyone who shows emotions, therefore, is not fit for the public square. Muskie got tossed out because he shed tears over how his wife had been treated. Which one of us wouldn’t want our spouse to care about us enough to show some emotions if we were abused?! Who among us hasn’t felt some strong emotions during the last seven years over what has happened to our country? Perhaps we felt anger. Rage. Frustration. Shock. Bewildered. Befuddled. Irritation. Annoyance. Anxiety. Fear. Hurt. Sadness. Regret. If we haven’t felt anything, then we probably don’t care who gets into the White House, and don’t understand the importance of the candidates who are willing to go through fatiguing days, and plenty of mud-slinging, because they don’t want to see our country go backwards again.
Hillary has had a difficult minefield to walk as the first viable woman candidate for President, leaving footprints for all those who will come after her. She has to be diplomatic, but tough. She has to be flexible, without being a push-over. She has to be attractive, without calling attention to how she looks. She has to be warm, without being sentimental. Gracious, without being overly feminine. Knowledgeable and prepared, without being overly logical. Smart, without coming across as A Brain. I’m amazingly impressed with her, and how few missteps she’s made. Perhaps we can all make some big leaps toward equality, simply because she’s out there, proving that a woman President is a possibility!