Saturday, January 13, 2007

America's Rorschach.

In the most recent Mother Jones, Jack Hitt explores the way Hillary Clinton's womanhood--and her sexuality--are the central polarizing agents in her candidacy. She is the first legitimate female candidate for president. And also the woman who, in the most famous adultery scandal in our nation's history, stood by her man. The possibilities for reading into this duality of roles are endless, and easily colored by ideological bent. To the left, is she the fulfillment of the promise of the feminist movement, or the woman who"had a chance to take a stand for all the women who've been humiliated" but then didn't? To the right, is she the principled mother who put family first, or the "clawing shrew who will suffer any ignominy to attain power?" The upshot, as has been covered ad nauseam, is that Hillary has a lot of people who really like her, a lot who don't, and very few who are undecided. To win an election, she's going to have to flip some people who have already made up their minds. Hitt wonders, however, whether women--liberal, moderate, and even conservative--might not, in the privacy of the voting booth, cast their ballots in favor of Hillary just because her womanhood, and not her work, has taken on such a central role in her candidacy. As Katha Pollitt wrote recently about the grief Hillary has received, seemingly only because she is a woman: "I just might vote for her to give these pathetic misogynists what for, and so might the rest of my coven."

(Speaking of the needless sexualizing of Senator Clinton, it seemed a bit of a pointless and crude inclusion for Hitt to guess at the cup size on the much-publicized sculpture of Clinton that played up the role of her gender in her public persona by depicting her wearing a skimpy bustier.)


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