January 13, 2008

Hillary didn't cry. She almost cried

Does crying help a woman get what she wants? Ariel Leve

Hillary Clinton showed some emotion and it won her New Hampshire. Alpha males everywhere were outraged. They collectively rolled their eyes and asked: does crying help a woman get what she wants?

Hillary didn't cry. She almost cried. There is world of difference between the two. Tearing up as she did, makes her emotional. Had she cried, she would have been labelled hysterical.

Tearing up shows vulnerability with restraint. Crying is much more of a release. Or, as men see it: a meltdown. If you're on a date, tearing up is permissible. Start crying and he'll call for the cheque.

I have a lot of experience in this department. Crying for me is like sighing. It's emotional punctuation. However unlike Hillary, it's never won me any points.

Men are uncomfortable with public displays of emotion, especially tears. Certain places, it's OK. Funerals for instance. But how often can you take a date to a funeral?

Tears of joy are a more tolerable but only if they're displayed in an appropriate setting. Weddings, births, and so on. Better yet: a woman who cries at a football match.

Men are most uneasy when a woman cries if they are responsible. Unless it's during sex. Then it's OK because they must be tears of gratitude.

People who criticise Hillary for cracking under pressure have no idea of the stress she's under. She's tired, hormonal, she has people touching her hair and fussing with her make-up. Obama probably doesn't have to participate in discussions on whether it's best to pluck his eyebrows.

But let's say Hillary had been crying. Let's say the tears were streaming down her cheeks and her eyes were puffy and her nose was running. That would have been a real problem. Because if you're going to cry in public, it has to look flawless.

Certain women can cry and get away with it. Angelina Jolie, for instance. When she cries men find it sexy. Heather Mills crying is another story. Then it's not sexy. It's scary.

The reason for the tears is also a factor. Some women cry to get people to feel sorry for them whereas others, like my friend, Lisa, cry to get people to leave her alone. The problem is she looks so good when she cries it has the opposite effect. With her porcelain skin and big brown eyes she looks like Ingrid Bergman at the end of Casablanca. Who wouldn't want to rescue her? I don't look like Ingrid Bergman when I cry. I look more like Sneezy. And no one wants to rescue a sneezing dwarf.

I've also learned that if you want crying to be effective, it has to be strategic. Like knowing when to pick your battles, you have to know when to pick your breakdowns.

Which means the war room in Hillary's campaign office must be in total chaos. Does she tear up again and get more votes? Or, if she shows more emotion will people become inured? Either way, I don't see what all the fuss is about. Who cares if she cries six times a day as long as she gets the job done. There are worse things than an emotional woman in the White House. There could be another Republican from Texas.