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Women, stop crying. It’s really ruining Spencer Morgan’s boner.

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, January 18, 2010 15:19 EDT
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Thanks to Jill Filipovic for drawing my attention to this article by Spencer Morgan in the NY Observer, an article demonstrating that the Observer and Morgan intend to be on the “misogynist for the sheer joy of hating women” beat. Morgan asks an earth-shattering question of profound importance as well as mystery: Why is it that he sees people—okay, women—occasionally crying in public? And when people see this, why don’t they stop to talk to the crying women, to offer help?

The answer to thess questions, from a non-misogynist perspective, in order: Probably because they’re sad. And because others realize that the crying woman probably would like not to be crying in public, and would like to be accorded the respect and privacy her sadness deserves.

But these answers are insufficient for Morgan, because these answers imply what he simply will not accept, which is that women are discrete individuals with private lives and subjective experiences, whereas Morgan clearly sees women, especially young fuckable things, as public property whose behavior is completely performance for others. I’m sure he thinks women go home and just power down like a computer deprived of its electricity, except in this case our electricity is attention. And since sadness, like all female behavior, is a ploy for attention, it pisses Morgan off because it’s not the performance he wants from women. So he’s going to make fun of the sad women and bully them into performing behaviors he finds sexier, presumably non-stop grinning.

Ms. Kreamer’s research helps illuminate a prevalent strain of gushers who cheapen the tears of others and represent a nuisance to the population as a whole: Call them the town criers.

They come in different forms. There is the woe-is-me hobble, the I-don’t-give-a-damn stomp, the die-a-little-every-day shuffle—which is ideal for the young lady who needs to get in and out of Whole Foods in 20 minutes, tops, and wants to keep a good trickle going. You might find yourself in the wake of a sobber or screamer or—God help you—a shrieker.

“It’s almost like an act of defiance,” said one female colleague who’s cried on the sidewalk more times than she can count, once, after gazing into the tortured eyes of a carriage horse, from Time Square all the way down to the East Village. “You’re almost daring people to stop you and you sort of know no one will.”

“There’s something cinematic about it, when you’re walking in New York.”

Yes, of course! Women cry simply to manipulate, right? Because women do everything to manipulate, though of course that’s a good thing when they’re manipulating a hard-on into existence. This entire idea that crying is nothing but a ploy for attention from manipulative bitches really makes it unclear why Morgan then guilts the public for not offering that attention.

My friend Harris lived in New York for six years before moving back to L.A. He said that he hasn’t seen nearly as much crying out there as he did here, and, yes, he does look at people in their cars. “The annoying thing about seeing a girl sobbing into her phone is ‘I always feel like I should ask if everything is okay, do you need any help.’”

Unless one sees blood or anything to indicate a real emergency, the New Yorker’s policy is to not engage a crier—if possible, to ignore him or her completely.

“It seems that I alone realize that all tears concern protection,” said the great Tom Wolfe over the phone. “And sometimes people will cry because someone has been protected; it’s not always a call to come protect me, it can be just, ‘Oh my God, he protected her.’”

If crying is a result of being a manipulative bitch, then shouldn’t the public ignore it and not feed the beast? If all female behavior is about other people, then other people have a right to mold it through rewards and punishments as they see fit, don’t they? Honestly, though, Morgan’s last paragraph is the reason he set up this guilt trip—to prove that even though he knows women don’t really get sad, they just perform it, he’s still a hero to femalekind and deserves lots and lots of blow jobs.

On my way into the cleaners, I noticed a woman with lots of tattoos, sitting on some stairs with her cat in a travel box. She looked sad and was intently staring at nothing in particular. The signs were there. But after a few minutes there was no additional glaze or puffiness about the eyes, so I gave up waiting.

I think we can all be grateful the woman didn’t cry and invite more stress in her life in the form of being suddenly asked by a strange man to puff up his ego.

The most inexcusable part of this essay is when Morgan leans on a female friend to scold the women of New York who disturb the peace with their performed, pointless sadness.

She described the typical crier type as an “attention-grabbing, needy sort of chick,” not confident or in control, but probably not too sloppy, because she “doesn’t mind getting that sort of attention.”

Putting vicious misogyny into a woman’s mouth is a classic sexist tactic; I’m really not sure what Morgan’s trying to imply by noting that the woman saying this is transsexual.

Of course, one thing that makes the whole “crying is nothing but manipulation” nonsense have even more traction is that women undeniably cry a lot more than men. That makes it easier for ungenerous men, and some women, to chalk crying up to female inferiority—either women are manipulative bitches who are only pretending to be that sad, or they’re hormonal messes who can’t be trusted to handle the grown-up world. That a lot more men are likely to blow up in rage and scream and yell to the point where everyone’s uncomfortable isn’t taken as evidence that men are inferior or overly emotional, I’ll note. But I have special hate for the notion that crying is something that women can and should have more control over. When people take nasty swipes like Morgan’s, I want to ask them if they can drop and start crying right now, to prove to me how much it’s a matter of will and not reflex. Crying on demand is notoriously difficult for actors to pull off, and those who do it well find that it’s highly in demand. To suggest that a bunch of amateur women are masters at what highly trained actors struggle to accomplish is to ascribe an unbelievable level of nasty manipulation to women.

The fact of the matter is that tendency to cry is highly variable from individual to individual, and some women cry less than some men. Women do cry a lot more, and who knows what accounts for that, if it’s hormones or social conditioning or both? (My money’s on that it’s social conditioning, since I know women who don’t cry much or ever, and I doubt their hormone levels are any different than the rest of ours.) Regardless of why this is, however, crying is not a voluntary, easily controlled behavior. Most people who cry in inopportune moments feel really distressed about it, and wish they could do anything but cry at right that moment. And like uncontrollable laughter, uncontrollable crying only gets worse the more you try to suppress it. So why do women cry in public, instead of squirreling away at home? Well, I’m sure most do, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Maybe the emotions of your day overcome you at a bad moment—maybe you have someplace you have to be, and you’ve convinced yourself that you can suck it up on the journey—maybe you just got a bad phone call and you’re not at home, but you want to get there ASAP. Who fucking knows? New York is a big city; at any point in time, you’re going to be encountering people that are having unusual experiences. Crying is just the tip of that iceberg.

I’ll point out that men being trained to suppress their “weak” emotions like sadness and stress isn’t really so great for men. Probably has a lot to do with why women live longer.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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