I have to say that President Obama’s speech to his campaign staff made me tear up a bit. I am not the only one, because in fact President Obama’s speech to his campaign staff made him tear up a bit too. (Note: transcript available here.)
There were a lot of inspiring things in the American presidential campaign: the people who stood for hours to be able to vote; the small girl in a Captain America uniform at a polling place; and, of course, the tremendous work of campaign volunteers and interns and staffers. I am in awe; I’m glad my president is too. And can I just say how pleased I am by his implicit frame of “becoming a man” as the opposite of “being a boy”, rather than the opposite of “being a woman”?
I think it is important to have men on both sides of the aisle (John Boehner, the House Speaker, cries too, and every liberal or progressive who criticizes him for it will get slapped in the face with a wet herring) who are willing to express the full range of their emotions. The patriarchy robs men of the ability to express a full range of emotions: it leaves them with nothing but anger and smug smirking self-satisfaction. Emotions are feminine, are weak, are a sign that you aren’t a real man. But emotions are part of being a person. It’s a devil’s bargain to make to give up some of your humanity for power.
There are a few moments for acceptable manly tears. Grief, mostly. But it’s quite another thing to cry out of a sense of hope. Out of gratitude and pride and the knowledge that there are people who will carry on your fight long after you’re gone.
Barack Obama is far from a perfect person, of course. (Two words: drone strikes.) But nevertheless this moment touched me and I think it says good things about our culture. It’s a sign that we’re approaching the time that anyone can cry or not cry as they see fit and no one will say shit about it. And that is a victory.
Photo: DonkeyHotey/Flickr. The US Republican and Democratic Party symbols, an elephant and a donkey.