Palin Decries Double Standard for Female Politicians

Says she couldn't get away with crying they way John Boehner can

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Sarah Palin will decide in a few months whether she's running for president in 2012, after "prayerful consideration" and thinking about whether her candidacy will be "good or not good" for her family and for the nation's political discourse, she told ABC News' Robin Roberts. Palin acknowledged she had to overcome some pretty bad polling numbers, but also would have to be "tougher" to counteract a double standard for women in politics.

Asked about Minority Leader John Boehner's crying on the House floor, Palin said, "that's one of those things where a double standard certainly is applied ... I'm sure if I got up there and did a speech and I started breaking down and cried about how important it is to me that our children and our grandchildren are provided great opportunities, I'm sure that I would be knocked a little bit for that." The Alaskan said female pols just had to "be that much tougher." This isn't so different from what Barbara Walters said about the Boehner business earlier this week (though she was imagining Pelosi crying, not Palin).

So is it true? Would a female Boehner be reviled?

  • Not True Anymore, Politics Daily's Matt Lewis writes. "The issue involved is that a woman who cries might be perceived as weak, but I would argue that Hillary Clinton's crying in 2008 helped her win the New Hampshire primary."
  • Explains the Conservative View on Gender  Noting that Palin said the double standard only made her "work that much harder," The American Prospect's Monica Potts observes that "the idea that adversity only makes people stronger and only the strong survive goes a long way to explain why conservative women don't support equality-granting measures that would correct for gender disparities in workplaces and at home." How so?  "In Palin's world, the onus is on women and minority groups to overcome obstacles. ... That's fine advice if used in a way to empower a group of teenage girls, but it's not fine as a philosophy to carry over into actual policy. It matters that we live in a world where women don't get a fair shake in politics, and it's not something you can just grit your teeth and get over."
  • Depends on the Situation, Politico's Jennifer Epstein says. "Public displays of emotion by women in politics can cut both ways. Hillary Clinton's teary remarks on the presidential campaign trail in early 2008 garnered critiques from fellow candidates and commentators, but  also were seen as a contributing factor in her primary victory in New Hampshire. And Colorado politician Pat Schroeder forever will be remembered for the tears she shed in 1987 when announcing her decision not to run for the Democratic presidential nomination."
  • It Would Humanize Her  "Sarah Palin is a political lightweight, she`s all fluff and no substance," writes Robert Paul Reyes at The SOP. "But when it comes to her personality, the former governor of Alaska is tough as nails. The only time I could imagine the Pit Bull with Lipstick crying is if she felt that she didn't sufficiently maul a political opponent. If Palin shed a tear in public it would humanize her, and make here more palatable to the electorate. I wouldn't vote for Palin if she shed more tears than Glenn Beck and John Boehner combined, but it would be in her interests if she weren't perceived as a dull and evil monster."
  • Palin Would Be Mocked for Being Palin, Rushie argues at Tranquil Hegemony. "I have to disagree with Sarah Palin on this one." Palin said she'd be mocked for crying, and "there's no doubt about that. But she'd be mocked because she's Sarah Palin, not because she's a woman. On the contrary, I think the double standard is the other way around. It's definitely not kosher for dudes to cry in public without being mocked to some degree. Unless their dog just died or they've lost a limb in a tragic wood shipper incident. From Brett Favre to John Boehner to those televangelists we all grew up watching, guys aren't supposed to cry in public."
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