The day before the New Hampshire primary, Sen. Hillary Clinton made an emotional presentation where her voice cracked and she became teary-eyed. It sparked an interesting discussion in our newsroom. "I think it was a mistake for Hillary to cry!" a female co-worker proclaimed after seeing the story. "You do?" a male co-worker responded. "Yes. She's going to that woman who can't keep it together," was the gist of the female's response. Our conversation continued from there. My view - people will be/are tougher in their judgment of a female public leader crying than they would be/are on a male. Even though the stereotype is that men don't cry and that crying is a sign of weakness, when a man in a leadership position shows such raw emotion, most people talk about with a sense of awe. We're impressed that, gosh, that guy really felt something. I'm not talking about weeping all the time (think Paul on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition), but instances like the President shedding a tear at a 9/11 memorial or Dan Rather breaking down on David Letterman. On the other hand, the female stereotype is that woman are too emotional to be level-headed leaders. When a woman cries, it's hormones or drama-queen. So when Hillary Clinton's voice cracks as she talks about wanting the best for her country, I imagine the thought crossed more than just my co-worker's mind that she needed to knock it off. It's a tough position for women. Hillary Clinton, for example, was told she was too abrasive and needed to soften her image. So she makes a laid-back, teary appearance, and will be criticized for looking too soft. Is this fair or not? What would you think if Gov. Kathleen Sebelius cried during her State of the State message next week? What if KU Coach Mark Mangino cried following the Orange Bowl? Or Sen. Pat Roberts sheds a tear the next time he speaks to a group of veterans? Perhaps it's the context. Perhaps it's our stereotypes and our perceptions when people go against them. The conclusion we reached from our newsroom discussion: Let's take it to the blog and hear what you think!
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