The triumph of Hillary Clinton

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGLQ63qUHHo]

In a hilariously titled column (“Hillary Clinton Finally Has Permission to Be a Bitch“), Lisa Miller takes stock of the outgoing Secretary of State’s performance yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

What Hillary thinks and says finally matters more than how she looks — which is a good thing, because in that regard, she no longer gives much of a damn. From muumuus to ponytails, her body language and her public persona over the past year or so have reminded me of what a friend once said to me about menopause: “It gives me permission to be the bitch I always was.”

The aging process is, for most of us, a cause for dread. But in Hillary’s case it is liberating: As a post-menopausal woman, she no longer needs to concern herself with the armies of attackers who for years have ceaselessly found her insufficiently girlish, womanly, or sexually desirable. (“When she comes on television,” said Tucker Carlson, “I involuntarily cross my legs.”)  She tried to please on the femininity front, she failed, and now, what the hell, she can be the ballbuster and the battle axe that her critics always said she was: smarter, tougher, and wilier than everyone else. Come 2016, Joe Biden and any other Democrat with presidential dreams should be worried.

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One thought on “The triumph of Hillary Clinton

  1. I think that the article is all over the place and that the title is total bullshit. This is one of my biggest-ever pet peeves about political reporting: why does a tough woman doing her freaking job have to be characterized as a “bitch”, when a man who does the same thing would not be subjected to a similarly negative or personal perjorative? Even granting that this is New York Magazine we’re talking about–where sarcasm is the default tone and “bitch” may be a compliment–it’s still a backhanded compliment at best. Not only does the word “bitch” have negative connotations to start with, it’s also a highly personal descriptor that implies something about who you are to begin with, vs. a stance/attitude/demeanor you have to take in the workplace because you’re just doing your job. It’s hard for me to imagine a world in which John Kerry has the same kind of exchanges with Congress and then gets headlines like “John Kerry Finally Lets The Douche Out” or “At Last, John Kerry Has Permission To Be Macho” written about him.

    As for the actual text of the article: I didn’t have an issue with Miller’s first paragraph, but she quickly lost me in the second and third. While I agree with Miller’s central points that “[w]hat Hillary thinks and says finally matters more than how she looks” and that Hillary is more lovable to the public now–true–her explanation that this is because of post-menopause is laughable. There HAS to be a number of intelligent and interesting ways to explain Hillary Clinton’s post-2008 reputation, but Miller bypasses all of them and chooses instead to jump to some asinine anecdote about a menopausal friend, which is insulting because then the implication is that Hillary is just looking for an excuse to be the bitch she is (how unprofessional). Maybe she is a horror to be around in real life, but the Benghazi hearings have nothing to do with that–that was just a good example of a politician ably doing her job, which, in this case, required being tough and aggressive. Maybe she doesn’t give a shit anymore about what other politicians think of her, but I don’t see what aging or menopause or post-menopause have to do with that. That’s just Lisa Miller’s speculation, and it’s not even a particularly good or informed guess. Hillary Clinton was already 60 when she ran in 2008 (51 is the average age of menopause according to the NIH), but it’s only now that she looks lovable/doesn’t care what others think? If that is the case, there must be something ELSE out there that’s responsible for this shift in public perception, whether it’s that other politicians like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry and Herman Cain make Hillary look good in comparison, or that the Secretary of State role has given her a newfound confidence and authority. Lisa Miller doesn’t explore any of that, though–instead, the whole piece reads like she free-associated 750 words on a deadline, then had some editor slap on a clumsy and ill-thought-out title before uploading it. Frankly, I find articles like this one annoying because (1) they reinforce the idea that it’s OK to call an aggressive woman in the workplace a “bitch,” and (2) they disturbingly suggest that post-menopausal and hence sexually undesirable women will make better and more confident politicians than the pre-menopausal ones.

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