(John Boehner, House Minority leader, is at the fountainhead of the waterworks conundrum. He’s known for crying easily and often. But don’t let a nationally-prominent woman try this.)
Remember the movie many years ago about the transvestite in prison? He would have preferred being transsexual, had he been given that opportunity. As it was, he had to content himself with wearing women’s clothes, in drag-queen style.
But that memorable cinematic character mimicked females in that he appeared “soft” and had a decided penchant for drama. He occupied his endless hours in prison by narrating his favorite story aloud, the tale of a French songstress who falls in love with the head Nazi officer during the German occupation of France. His cellmate eventually got to like his narration.
That movie, “KIss of the Spriderwoman,” starring William Hurt, made its debut waaayyy before the time any of us remember scandalous topics coming easily to the screen. In fact, it was before that other movie that shattered barriers–“Brokeback Mountain.” Of course, when I tried to rent “Kisss…”, recently, I told the video clerk the lead character was Al Hirt, a serious blunder on my part since Al Hirt was the famed trumpeter and bandleader (1922-1999) who never acted in a movie. No wonder the clerk had trouble locating it.
Nevertheless, I got it and viewed it again, from the perspective of a much-older woman, one seasoned by the many liberalizing events that have occurred in recent decades.
“Kiss of the Spiderwoman” was shocking in its day, sort of how the “Big Kiss” between two young men was regarded recently in the “Glee” episode on TV. In retrospect, its subject matter was tame. Its biggest accomplishment was doubtless the fact that it was one of those films that helped pave the way for dialogue on homosexuality.
One of the actor Hurt’s key lines in the movie? “Why is it only women are supposed to cry?” “Why can’t a man cry?” William Hurt’s character showed us in this movie that crying is entirely appropriate to both sexes as he shares his cell with a masculine, revolutionary type who’s incarcerated for attempts at overthrowing the government. This pair develop a unlikely bond due to proximity and their sharing of life-threatening circumstances.
Today, other men are showing it’s OK to cry. Take Minority Speaker of the House John Boehner (the Dems would probably prefer someone do that, in actuality, for he is the no-nonsense champion of “Let‘s cut that damned budget significantly or there‘ll be no passage on my watch.“)
Because of his tendency to get misty-eyed, he’s become the poster boy for real men showing emotion (that, and for his decidedly-orange skin, the kind someone gets from too-frequent visits to tanning parlors, which, by the way, he refutes.)
Seriously, Boehner’s crying has become serious fodder for journalists and media.
Ironically, however, while Speaker Boehner‘s crying is accepted (as opposed to Presidential candidate Ed Muskie‘s misty-eyed defense of his wife in his years-ago campaign that torpedoed his chances at national office), women politicians have learned they better not cry, for their weepiness invites criticism (Hillary Clinton found that out in her Presidential campaign.) In other words, while it’s considered endearing that Boehner fills up and spills over (at times), a female candidate’s teary-eyed reaction suggests she might be “too soft” for the job.
The years have softened our stance on how we perceive men and their obvious emotion. But, here’s the supreme irony: Nationally-prominent men (George Bush, Scott Brown) can now get teary at situations that suggest deep human response is entirely appropriate (national defense, war, horrific occasions like 9/11) but let a woman politician show that same reaction and she’s deemed “unfit for high office.”
As usual, women walk a narrow plank of “Damned if we do and damned if we don’t.”
Finally, did you know that “Toy Story 3” prompts tears in grown men? (I didn’t either but apparently it is the case). They’ve even done studies on what prompts weepy reaction in the allegedly more stoic of the species…(Just Google “What makes guys cry.“)
I’ve seen my guy mist up when a particularly patriotic scene unfolds in a movie (such as “Saving Private Ryan“) and occasional times when the Star Spangled Banner is sung, pre-game, by a pop sensation who sings it without adding syllables to the words for artistic effect (that drives him nuts!)
Even that National Guard ad that plays before movies at the theatre can prompt significant reaction in him as he sees his fellow soldiers saving folks around the planet. It’s OK with me–in fact, it’s more than OK. I like to know the person I spend significant time with is humbled by human emotion.
In other words, I don’t want to be the only one going for the Kleenex.
So, “Men who Cry”–a new breed that’s becoming more acceptable, and I must say: I like it. Now, please, let’s afford a similar right to women (who are supposedly genetically-coded for it, anyway) and recognize crying for what it is: human expression of sympathy/empathy or deep reaction to something.
In this way, we’ll cease characterizing it and its perpetrators as “weak.” Instead, we’ll encourage our leaders to express their deep feelings on the many issues with which they deal (as long as they don’t blubber inconsolably.)
Now click below on any links to read other interesting data on crying. For instance, “Is it ever appropriate to cry in the workplace?” Answers might surprise you.
And remember this pop culture icon, Boy George? Here’s a YouTube rendition of his famous “The Crying Game”….