Looking down on people who do this at work is sexist

Looking down on people who do this at work is sexist

When the president of CBS News fired correspondent Mika Brzezinski a decade ago, she cried. And she regrets it. “There was no place for those tears in that moment,” she told the Huffington Post two years ago. “If anything, when you cry, you give away power.”

Of the 15 other high-profile women the news site interviewed about crying at work, the majority expressed negative views of some sort. Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of the Girl Scouts, put it most bluntly: “Tears belong within the family.”

The widespread cultural disparagement of the work-cry is strange, though, since there’s nothing inherently bad about crying. In past centuries, even the public weeping of grown men was celebrated. Far from surrendering power, these moist-eyed gents were showing deep respect. As Sandra Newman wrote in Aeon, even members of Parliament cried so hard they could barely speak. “In 1628, the English politician Thomas Alured describes the reaction in the House of Commons to a letter from the king threatening the dissolution of Parliament: ‘Sir Robert Phillips spake, and mingled his words with weeping … St. Edward Coke was forced to sit down when he began to speak, through the abundance of tears.’”

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