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NOT WRONG TO STAY STRONG

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX NEWS OCTOBER 2011
Original Source: EXPRESS: 09 OCTOBER 2011
Sunday October 9,2011  By Anne Atkins
 

Princess of Wales showed her feelings

 IT WAS a Monday morning in December, 1997. Our 12-year-old daughter, troubled with the beginnings of an illness neither she nor we had heard of, had gone out a day earlier without telling us and not returned.

 

 

My husband and I both thought she was dead, mainly because the police did. In a desperate bid to do something, anything, we had allowed the nation's media into our house.

 

 I was in the kitchen, howling so loudly the friend embracing me noticed tears running down the face of a 6ft policeman.

 

Several dozen newspaper and TV crews were waiting for an interview, so I went upstairs, washed my face and even, I think, put some make-up on. ?I will not,? I said, with determination, ?cry in front of the cameras.? And I didn't. Though I did look strange on the front of the Daily Telegraph the next day.

 

Its photographer, considering I didn't appear sufficiently distraught, had made me squint into the sun. Not so my husband. He was allowed to look normal, stoical, strong.

 

He is the man, he is supposed to hold it all together. Heaven forbid, though, that a woman should hide her tears from the rest of us and it is often other women who punish her for doing so.

 

 Take one columnist's comments in a midmarket newspaper last week.

 

Amanda Knox has been cleared of murder: there never was convincing evidence against her or plausible motive for her supposed crime and yet, in one of the most sinister and sexist articles I have read for years, this writer threw doubt on her vindication because her eyes didn't flinch in court and she didn't go to pieces in prison: ?There is something disquieting about Amanda Knox, something that slightly chills the blood.? No, there is not.

 

 

Notably, there is no comment on her supposed accomplice, Raffaele Sollecito, being ?spooky? because he wasn't sobbing.

 

 Just because a woman is not wailing hysterically does not mean she is guilty of murder. Or does it, in the world's eyes?

 

Miss Knox has been criticised for her self-control immediately after her housemate's murder and there has even been speculation that she has Asperger syndrome.

 

 I have news for such theorisers: keeping one's emotions private does not amount to Asperger syndrome.

 

 I have heard, and read, similarly outrageous slurs on Kate McCann, for the same reason. She seemed ?suspiciously in control?, not considered natural in a mother.

 

So the ?reasoning? goes that perhaps she did it. No, she is simply a dignified and self contained woman who didn't want to bawl in front of the world's media and why should she?

 

 By contrast the late Princess of Wales did share her fragility and hurt with us, so we could feel protective towards her.

 

This was part of who she was and we adored for it but not all women are like this, nor should they be. After all, it may have been good for her popularity but not for her independence or survival.

 

 Gruesomely, I suspect we preferred her to be delicate... and dead. There is something horribly controlling in all this. I am reminded of distorting Victorian corsets which made women faint, of Chinese foot binding which robbed them of movement, even of female circumcision which destroys their sexual pleasure.

 

All ways of keeping women vulnerable and in the power of others, particularly men. We can all fall victim to this.

 

 A boss of my husband's, a bully, was enraged and frustrated, even told my husband that I ?needed to be taught a lesson?, because I wouldn't meet him socially.

 

  I wouldn't because we were in a vulnerable situation. I knew he would bully me too and I needed to keep strong. MRS McCANNS self-containment is admirable. She and her husband have stayed united through a strain that would have destroyed many.

 

I got the merest flavour of this before my daughter was found safe just two miles away. I also applaud Ms Knox planning her 21st birthday party from prison, something else considered cold and creepy.

 

 She sustained her spirits and her belief in herself and her innocence until she won her freedom.

 

 Women can be strong and often have to be; with children, even husbands, depending on us. We are not obliged to weep when our circumstances are challenging. Nor is it unnatural, far less incriminating, when we do not.

 

 If others find that threatening, that is their problem, not ours.

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