February 24, 2008
If Hillary Clinton is worried, it doesn't show. She's lost 11 straight primaries and caucuses and she knows she needs to win Texas in early March to stay in the race. Every day there's a new story about how she's slipping in the polls. But watching her in the Texas debates, you'd never read it in her expression. She appeared confident and relaxed.
"Whatever happens, we're going to be fine," She said. She was referring to herself and Obama. Only one of them is going to be more fine than the other. And if she loses, maybe then she can look pissed off. No matter how disappointed she's feeling I bet a part of her will feel relieved that finally, she can stop smiling.
Politicians are so polished now that the slightest wince is micro analysed and dissected. And Hillary is under even more scrutiny. No one wants an 'emotional' woman for President.
When did showing emotion become a bad thing? If only she could admit to worrying. A reporter would ask how she's feeling about the upcoming Ohio primary and she could reply, "How do you think I'm feeling? I'm freaking out!"
Then she'd talk about how she's got all her eggs in this President basket and how for years she'd put up with Bill's crap - Gennifer Flowers for God's sake - so if she doesn't win it will be a major disaster. She'll feel like a big fat loser and her life will be over.
Who wouldn't vote for that?
The problem is, being an emotive person isn't considered an asset. Having emotions is one thing, letting them show is another.
Whenever someone says I'm "emotional" it's never a compliment. I can't remember the last time someone said, "Thank God you are such an emotional person." It's usually part of the explanation for being hung up on, scolded or dumped.
But hiding emotions doesn't work either. And once you start, it's a slippery slope. The pretence has to be kept up. I went out with someone once and didn't let on how I was really feeling. If I was angry, worried, sad - I kept it to myself. After a few dates I could tell he thought I was an easygoing person who didn't worry.
It was horrible. Then one day he said, "I think you're on your best behaviour" and I admitted that yes, I was. Finally, I could exhale and be myself. Five minutes later we broke up.
I've always believed expressing one's emotions is a good thing. It indicates sensitivity and being alive. But as a naturally emotional person, it's occurred to me that negative emotions are the trouble.
People prefer the positive ones. Someone who shows excessive joy is never considered a lot of work. No one will ever complain, "Being around her is really difficult - she's so happy all the time".
Maybe people are afraid because they equate showing emotions with losing control. Especially when it comes to men. I asked a male friend of mine if he lets his emotions show and he said absolutely not.
"No good can come from it." He said. "I can't think of any circumstance where being emotional works for a man."
I can. I wouldn't mind a little jealousy. That would be nice. I tend to go out with guys who wouldn't notice or care if I'm interested in someone else. I could say George Clooney hit me on and the only reaction would be: cool.
After jealousy, the most useful emotion a man can show is outrage. When I say my friend Heather hasn't returned my e-mail - outrage. If I say I'm not being considered for a promotion - total indignation. Everything I was upset about he would be equally furious about. And then when I told him I was thinking of leaving he would cry and plead with me to change my mind. That's the kind of emotional man I could fall for.
I suppose all of this depends on how you define emotional. When a man shows his anger, he's being assertive. When a woman gets angry - she's hysterical.
Which I why I think if Hillary let go and showed how she's really feeling, she'd be a lot better off. You know she's dying to roll her eyes when Obama talks about his experience. You know she'd love to say, "When I get to the White House I'm doing away with all female interns."
What's wrong with a little pessimism? She could say health care and the economy are screwed so don't get too excited. If only Hillary was allowed to say, "Look. I haven't slept in six months and I'm cranky - just give me the job already." At least then we'd know she's being honest.