I read a criticism on the web a few weeks ago (my apologies that I don't remember where!) that in an effort to "humanize" the current presidential candidates, Michelle Obama and Ann Romney were both going to point out some mundane flaws with their respective husbands. Think along the lines of leaving socks in the middle of the floor, or singing off key, etc. Sure enough, both Ann Romney and Michellen Obama talked about minor idiosyncrasies of their respective husbands.
"You see, even though back then Barack was a senator and a presidential candidate … to me, he was still the guy who’d picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by through a hole in the passenger side door … he was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a Dumpster, and whose only pair of decent shoes was half a size too small."
While this was a relatively minor part of their speeches, I do think it suggests something interesting. In an effort to be relatable, both wives were tasked with showing what a "normal" family life they have with everyday people characteristics. Is this "humanizing" an innocent part of showcasing men as whole people, flaws and all, or does it speak to something bigger about the portrayals of masculinity in the culture?
Taken on it's own, it doesn't appear to be significant. However, in the context of how men are routinely portrayed as goofy, buffoons, and generally unable to take care of themselves on sitcoms and commercials (especially commercials for food and cleaning products), does the harmless appearance change? Yet, in both of these speeches, characteristics of both Obama and Romney were provided with much more detail and context about multiple facets of their personalities. Was this inclusion necessary for some humility in an otherwise overly positive characterization of these two men?
And, would it have been any different if the presidential candidate was female and her male partner was speaking on her behalf?