Carol Platt Liebau: Tears and the Female Politician

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tears and the Female Politician

The Iron Lady didn't weep.
(No doubt her adversaries did.)

Margaret Thatcher is one of the greatest female politicians of all time, and one of my heroes. She was everything a female leader should be: Principled, brilliant, courageous, fair and strong. (Here is my tribute to Lady Thatcher on the twenty-fifth anniversary of her rise to power).

Please note the contrast between the behavior of the Iron Lady (who withstood an assassination attempt and led the UK through the Falklands War) and the performances of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco (who wept repeatedly last week) and of Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (who likewise burst into tears). Both were a perfect picture of (in Mark Steyn's felicitous phrase) "emotive impotence."

No one can blame the two women for crying, caught as they were in what was probably the most devastating event they will ever witness. But one can fault them for crying in public -- and projecting an image of weakness, rather than strength.

For those inclined to gender bigotry and stereotyping, what is the "rap" on women leaders? That's right -- that they're hyperemotional and weak. How did Blanco and Landrieu look last week? You guessed it.

Of course, it's highly likely that Margaret Thatcher wept many times during her years as Great Britain's Prime Minister. But she did so in private -- and that's a key distinction.

For all of those who waste their time complaining that "America isn't ready for a female President" -- well, Governor Blanco and Senator Landrieu just set your cause back last week. And what every woman needs to understand is this: If a woman is ever to land the top political job in America, it will be in large part because she's proven that she's tough: A person who can withstand all the turmoil and endure all the heartache a man can take -- and more -- without bursting into tears.


Blogger Bachbone said...

Edmund Muskie can attest to what tears can do to a candidate's presidential hopes.

10:04 PM  
Blogger cookie jill said...

carol -

Crying is not a sign of weakness. Watching a literal wiping out of lives, history and American history should cause true patriots to cry. It shows that they have a soul. It shows they are human.

I have not heard from several friends in NOLA. I have been crying solidly for a week. That doesn't make me weak...or a loser...watching my beloved soul city Nawhlins pretty much wiped off the map and seeing the devastation in Mississippi and the entire Gulf Coast touches the humanity in me.

We should all be crying. This week was the beginning of the end of our great country.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Poison Pero said...

I am terribly sorry for any loses you may have suffered in NO, Cookie.....It is a terrible mess, and one I'm not sure is going to be remedied.

That said:

Are you serious about this week being the "beginning of the end for our country", Cookie?

I wish I had known earlier......I would have stocked up on more bullets.

But, what makes you say that, sweetie?

And if it's true, should we all go out and commit random acts of insanity, since the end is near anyway? --> We can steal from each other, rape, pillage, murder, etc. And it won't matter since the end is near anyway.

Seriously, I'm worried Cookie.......What should we do?

Holy shhhhhhhh........What is that coming out of the sky? Is it the sky? I think it is falling.
Quit putting hashish in the cookies dear.....It's making you a little unhinged.

12:33 AM  
Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

Carol: i couldn't agree more. I don't believe that because a woman has the ability to do the job, that it would be good for her or the country to do it.

Cookie: no one is saying that leaders have to turn off their emotion. However, there is a higher standard of self-control when people are looking to you in the case of an emergency. I used to be a high school teacher. I taught during the time of the Northridge earthquake in '94. We had many aftershocks during that time. At home, I had the luxury of being emotional. However, in the classroom, those kids immediately looked at me when the ground started shaking. I had a responsibility and obligation to be strong for them, lead them, instruct them and comfort them. I could later talk to friends and family about how nervous I was. But, in that moment, my primary responsibility was not to show them I'm "human" but to take care of them.

THAT is what the governor in LA failed to do.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous KB said...

I agree with Lores. There's nothing wrong with the governor or senator crying PRIVATELY, but they should be pillars of strength PUBLICALLY.

10:10 AM  
Blogger Tracy Stiegler said...

Carol - you're right on. The emotion issue is what I am always concerned about when I hear narrow-minded feminists gripe how a women needs to hold the highest office.

I fear that there are so few women like Ms. Thatcher in the US, one who could equally balance grace, and feminity with such strength of character and speaking so clearly. Women are either labeled as being too 'bitchy' or too emotional. The only American that comes close to Ms. Thatcher is Ms. Rice. She is brilliant, smart, witty and has the potential to make the same mark on America that Ms. Thatcher did to the UK.

If Ms. Rice decides to take a shot at the Presidency, she's got my full support. Unless you're considering it, Carol - you can count on me, 100%. :)

~Tracy Stiegler

8:07 PM  

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