During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford both displayed emotions for the media to analyze and compare.
A New York Times article reports, “Kavanaugh's show of both fury and tears was a cry from the flip side of the #MeToo movement.” We saw an angrier Kavanaugh than during his Fox News interview, perhaps a reaction to President Trump’s disappointment in his mild manner.
A CNN article recalls a 2005 interview when President Trump said, "When I see a man cry I view it as a weakness. I don't like seeing men cry." The article also concludes,
“Judgments on Kavanaugh's emotional performance will likely depend on each viewer's perspective, but he demonstrated the wider latitude that men in politics have today to show their emotions. However, were he a woman, he would likely be dismissed as overwrought, even hysterical, which helps explain why the witness who testified before him, Christine Blasey Ford, was far more composed and restrained.”
The Times article describes Ford’s presentation: “[H]er voice cracking but her composure intact.” In another Times piece, “The ‘Tight Rope’ of Testifying While Female,” the writer confirms, “She teared up in her testimony — her voice cracking — but she did not openly cry or break down.” That article also cites her asking for caffeine and telling a joke: “These are all codes for ‘she is displaying proper expectations of femininity.’”
Gender experts and other reporters also noted the contrast. Referring to Kavanaugh’s tears, Alicia Menendez of PBS said, “If he were a woman, we’d be questioning if she were unhinged.”
Both demonstrated vulnerability and risked emotional exposure. Despite the public backlash, Ford came forward to tell her story. And Kavanaugh responded by displaying emotions often viewed negatively for a man. However, overall, reports of his anger seem to overshadow the tears.
What’s your view of the emotional displays during the testimony? How do you think gender differences factored into how each was judged?
Have you ever cried at work? Which emotions are seen as appropriate, and which are discouraged? Should we be more open to both anger and sadness in the workplace?