It’s interesting, actually, to look at how the popular stereotyping of crying has evolved since then. The subtext of all the Boehner jokes—and even serious discussion—is not that he’s behaving like a little girl or that he’s somehow effeminate; it’s more that he lacks discipline or self-mastery. It’s different, yes, but it’s stupidly reductive all the same.
But here’s the thing about double standards: they’re double, which is to say, they cut two ways. People may feel freer to joke about Boehner’s crying because they feel he’s in no real danger from it, but the underlying attitude—it is shameful, or at least risible, for a man to cry—affects real people. (Bloomberg BusinessWeek, for instance, used Boehner as a peg for a story on “How Not to Cry at Work.”) And while I don’t pretend that men suffer as much from sexism as women do, it’s still no good to anyone to send the message that there’s one acceptable way to be a man in public.