I recently discussed Hillary Clinton's candidacy with female friend of mine. She was skeptical of voting a woman into the White House because she feared having an overly emotional executive.
I replied that this was unfair because it presents a double standard. Either a woman is too emotional for president or she shows too little emotion and is thought of as calculating, cold and devious, also making her unfit for president. Hillary has been accused of this calculating nature on the campaign trail and she really has no weapon against this. She has to toe the line between too emotional and a cold-hearted b*tch--a standard no man is held to.
A day before Clinton won the New Hampshire primary she was asked how she was dealing with the rigors of the campaign trail. She replied tearfully,
...It’s not easy, and I couldn’t do it if I didn’t passionately believe it was the right thing to do. You know, I have so many opportunities from this country, I just don’t want to see us fall backwards. You know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political it’s not just public. I see what’s happening, and we have to reverse it. Some people think elections are a game, lot’s of who’s up or who’s down, [but] it’s about our country , it’s about our kids’ futures, and it’s really about all of us together...Click here for a great review and video of the entire exchange from the New York Times.
Pundits have been speculating since that tearful encounter what impact, if any, this episode had on her surprising victory in New Hampshire. I suspect it helped, since women were the difference between New Hampshire and Iowa. Regardless, Patricia Schroeder, who dropped out of the presidential race twenty years ago, has an interesting observation about the double standard Hillary is having to deal with, "The good news for men is: crying is a badge of courage...The bad news is that for women it's still a scarlet letter."
And of course the speculation continues. Op-eds suggesting the tears were manufactured are too numerous to count (just google "Hillary tears"). And while a man might face that same skepticism, would his tears signal weakness or emotionalism in the minds of voters?
Perhaps this double standard is why women have never been front-runners.