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.