The Hillary Rorschach Test

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A Warhol-esque portrait of Hillary Clinton.

What do you see in this picture? [Lisa E / Flickr]

Has any American icon been so variously reviled as Hillary Clinton? She inspires a kind of passionate hatred that somehow trumps the malice we feel even for other politicians. You hate her because she’s too far to the left, you hate her because she’s too far to the right, you hate her because she triangulates. You hate her for her hair, her looks, her marriage, her career. You hate her because she wasn’t a good wife to Bill, or because she refused to leave him when he cheated.

This is what Jack Hitt calls the Hillary Rorshach Test, a phrase that apparently originates with Hillary herself. Hitt argues that what’s interesting is not what our intense reactions to Hillary tell us about her, but what they tell us about ourselves.

The details of her life are familiar enough; perhaps that’s why all the profiles of her over the last 10 years have always seemed tedious and repetitive. It’s how we shape those facts that’s interesting…

Hillary is an avatar of an existential dread skulking in the hearts of every couple who’ve tried to put together a life since the feminist revolution. This anxiety explains why the darkest question a liberal feminist can ask is: Why didn’t she leave that son of a bitch? And it’s why the coarsest question a conservative man can ask is: Who would do the bitch? Both point to deep fears that emerged alongside feminism, grounded, as every question since that revolution is, in the politics of the bedroom.

Jack Hitt, Harpy, Hero, Heretic: Hillary, Mother Jones, Jan/Feb 2007

As Hillary prepares to seek the nation’s highest office – an office she once had not one but two offices next door to – we’re asking: does Hillary tell us more about what we still expect of our wives and mothers than what we expect of our leaders? Is how much we love and hate her really that much different from the kind of intense love and loathing we feel for other public figures, like say, her husband? Why do we hate her more than we hate Nancy Pelosi, or Barbara Boxer, or, I don’t know, Carly Fiorina? How will the ’08 race change the Rorschach calculus, and how will that calculus change the ’08 race?

Update, 1/30 1:40pm

Turns out that Hillary is just as incendiary as we suspected. This show post inspired a spirited debate over the weekend, which prompted Jack Hitt to respond:

I agree that yet one more discussion of how the media always comment on a high-profile women’s looks is tiresome. But I want to argue that Americans critique Hillary Clinton in a way that far transcends anything good or bad, political or personal, that gets said about Elizabeth Dole, Condoleezza Rice, Susan Collins or Mary Landrieu. It’s far more complicated with Clinton. I report the good side (Hillary has a hidden vote that supports her) and the bad (John McCain’s unforgiveable joke about Chelsea). All of this personal chatter points to one thing: that Clinton is still the trailblazer she was when she was the college valedictorian who infuriated the administration with her feminist address to the students, the first female law partner in Arkansas, the governor’s wife, the First Lady, the carpetbagging senator, and now presidential candidate. Sure, there were pioneers such as Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisolm, but Clinton is the first candidate with a likely chance of winning.

Jack Hitt, in a comment to Open Source, January 28, 2007.

Jack Hitt

Contributing Writer & Editor, New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones and This American Life

Author, Harpy, Hero, Heretic: Hillary

Catherine Allgor

Associate Professor of History, University of California Riverside

Author, Parlor Politics and Perfect Union

Frank Luntz

Pollster, Luntz, Maslansky

Author, Words that Work

Linda Hirshman

Author, Get to Work

Author, You’ve Come a Long Way, Maybe

Bonus Tape

Earlier today we talked with Frank Marafiote, publisher of The Hillary Clinton Quarterly. Marafiote started the quarterly in 1992 after “awaking from a deep slumber induced by Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush.”

Click to Listen to Frank Marafiote (1.4 MB MP3)

Extra Credit Reading

OliverCranglesParrot, in a comment to Open Source, January 26, 2007: “What is this kind of discourse providing, either by this writer or by those more coarser, linguistic rapist flame throwers? I fail to see why this sort of imprudent rhetoric is so highly regarded. President Clinton and Senator Clinton do not have to answer for their domestic life as long as it’s within the legal principles of the larger culture.”

Baldrick, Hillary Clinton for President?, MyDD, January 23, 2007: “I know a lot of people hated “the Clintons” but Bill’s ratings are still quite favorable. So why do people hate Hillary so much? There are a lot of complex answers, but I don’t see how her being a woman doesn’t feature prominently in a number of them. What would be acceptable or normal behavior is scrutinized, criticized, and blown up because of who she is and WHAT she is.”

Challicechick, So why do people hate Hillary so much?, The ChaliceBlog, November 16, 2006: “I get that Hillary is some sort of symbol for bitchy women, but I don’t quite know what she’s actually done to earn that reputation, particularly since her personal life offers a good deal of evidence to the contrary.”

k. randolph, Hillary pt. 2 (Liabilities), Voter Vault, January 23, 2007: “Her image: Divider; 60s radical; Powerhungry; Cold; Uncharismatic. That’s not saying she deserves those images, but they linger . . . she is hated like no other candidate.”

Linda Hirshman, You’ve Come a Long Way, Maybe, The Washington Post, January 28, 2007: “All the gender gap talk notwithstanding, there’s no guarantee that Clinton would receive enough votes from women to be elected. I’ve studied women and women’s politics for 20 years, and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that, except for possibly once in 1996, female voters have not by themselves put anyone in the White House.”

Camille Paglia, The First Drag Queen, Salon, January 28, 1996: “Hillary — whom her Wellesley College classmates called “Sister Frigidaire” — was a natural as a lawyer, but she had to learn how to be a politician, where flexibility and gladhanding cordiality are crucial. Year by year in Arkansas, especially after Bill was defeated in his first reelection bid, Hillary, a high-achieving firstborn child with two recessive brothers, taught herself how to act like a woman. The smoothly efficient First Lady we see before us, with her chameleonlike blonde hairdos and charismatic smile, is actually a drag queen, the magnificent final product of a long process of self-transformation from butch to femme.”

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Hating Hillary, The New Yorker, February 26, 1996: “At times, she herself sounds at a loss to explain the level of animosity toward her. “I apparently remind some people of their mother-in-law or their boss, or something,” she says.”

18:16

This distrust, even hatred, fear of women in the polity — either as citizens or as part of the government — goes all the way back to Aristotle, and it’s been a large part of our Western political thought.

Catherine Allgor

26:07

A lot of men, when they want to denounce Hillary, they’ll tell you privately — and I got this all the time when I was researching this –- was that they wouldn’t “sleep with her.” It was a way of busting her back down to woman, and then rejecting her at that level.

Jack Hitt

32:02

She is not judged by her gender. She is judged by her politics, and by the way she carries herself.

Frank Luntz

40:40

To try to force her into a conventional sex role would be, I think, to amputate a part of her, and, I think, to amputate a part of any full human being.

Linda Hirshman

Related Content


  • I don’t dislike Senator Clinton. I might even vote for her. But I am troubled by aspects of her past. I’m troubled by her participation in manipulated cattle futures trading that netted her $100,000 in a short period of time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Rodham_Clinton_controversies). I’m troubled by her being on Wal-Mart’s Board of Directors for 6 years (between 1986 and 1992). I’m troubled by her calculating nature.

    But I like her policies, and I think she would move the country in the right direction. Maybe we’re at a point now, following the “likable” George W. Bush (with all the wrong policies) and faced with the “unlikable” Hillary Clinton (with mostly right policies), where we need to confront the role of personality in politics in general.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    Okay, this is perhaps the most imflamatory ROS post I’ve seen, and it is likely that I’m going channel my inner Daisy Moses (aka Granny); though briefly and without the twenty gauge…and I’ll blame Senator Clinton…

    “Hillary is an avatar of an existential dread skulking in the hearts of every couple who’ve tried to put together a life since the feminist revolution.”

    This is one of the least insightful, most inane things I’ve ever read that uses big SAT worthy words. Perhaps, I just do get around enough? Can we take Senator Clinton and President Clinton off this cross?

    “Why didn’t she leave that son of a bitch? And it’s why the coarsest question a conservative man can ask is: Who would do the bitch? Both point to deep fears that emerged alongside feminism, grounded, as every question since that revolution is, in the politics of the bedroom.”

    This is absolutely irrelevant with respect to politics and it does not increase insight into understanding marriage issues or human sexuality … it is petite wordsmithing for reinforcing lazy discourse further diminishing our capacity to deal with issues of governing. In short, it makes the issue about personality rather than about issues of governance. And when we move away from governance and into territory about personality we can maraud seamlessly into a variety of rape scenarios.

    “Who would do the bitch?” Are you kidding me? What kind of fulminating ‘tard is giving space to this kind of infantile meandering? What is this kind of discourse providing, either by this writer or by those more coarser, linguistic rapist flame throwers? I fail to see why this sort of imprudent rhetoric is so highly regarded. President Clinton and Senator Clinton do not have to answer for their domestic life as long as it’s within the legal principles of the larger culture. Perhaps I am misinformed (I am tirelessly misinformed on so many things), but it is my impression that extra marital activity is not a criminal activity (not talking about civil law), nor does it necessarily implicate somone’s competency with regards to job performance in the political arena. But I am willing to admit that I have very little expertise in the legal arena (beyond watching People’s Court and Perry Mason), so I may be incorrect about the criminality of extra marital affairs. So if it’s not breaking the public trust or impeding the discharge of their public responsibilities, what relevance does this have in the public discourse beyond check-out counter journalism?

    How about this: President Clinton and Senator Clinton wipe their derrières using a harem of reeses monkey helpers. Moreover, pundits now explain that every problem you have in your marriage is due to the liberal virtues of derrière wiping through the means of reeses monkeys. Furthermore “And it’s why the coarsest question a conservative man can ask is:” who would put their goodtime johnson into someone who uses a reeses monkey to wipe their derrière? How far down do we want to go. Lower? Not enough flame in the flame thrower? Need more odor in the smoke? Would it be better to taste the turd in the rhetoric? Feel its squishy qualities? Hmmm. How far?

    While I ponder, I’ll continue to type: For me, the question of ‘likability’ for a leader in a political office is something I assign an extremely low weight. I have voted for people who do not strike me as very ‘likable’. It is not a requirement for me to cast my vote for someone I would want to spend much personal time hanging out and ruminating over the nature of things. My support/dissent with administrations are never based upon personality conjectures. From my perspective, the job of the president is to set the agenda for the executive branch and channel their energies for accomplishing this within the boundaries of the articles of the constitution and those extremely vexing, mettlesome bolt-ons we call the amendments to the constitution (where the People’s power resides, which is in fact the largest, most important office under the constitution).

    Is ROS simply pushing hot-buttons here, trying raz comfortable synaptic pathways, or is it an attempt to further increase the cultural brittleness? BTW, I doubt I’ll be voting for Senator Clinton, but this has nothing to do with her gender, her marriage, her race, her religious views, her likability, etc. I do not feel she is the highest qualified person running in the current crop of candidates. If at the end of the primary process she is in fact the most qualified then she’ll get my vote. And, I never vote along party lines, since I do not belong to one nor have any interest in belonging to one. Why increase the clusterf*ck index? If you cain’t help, then at least you can strive to do no harm.

    Now, I’m going to kick some serious Mrs. Margaret Drysdale derrière…I grow weary of my own tedious contribution to this subject

  • plnelson

    I think the whole premise of this thread is ridiculous.

    Hillary Clinton is a politician and there’s not the slightest shred of evidence that she’s any more of a ” Rorshach Test” than any other politician. Hitt is just trying to sell books.

    I don’t like Hillary Clinton for the same reason I don’t like John Kerry – I think that instead of any true political or moral compass, they both are equipped instead with political windsocks. I think they will opportunistically take whatever position they think will gain them power. Clinton’s support for the Iraq invasion was inexcusable. And what are we to make of her co-sponsorhip of a flag burning amendment?

    She’s way too far to the right for me (and to think that some posters here think I’M conservative!

  • Gosh, I totally agree with plnelson.

  • herbert browne

    Avecfrites sets it up well, ie ..”Maybe we’re at a point now, following the “likable” George W. Bush (with all the wrong policies) and faced with the “unlikable” Hillary Clinton (with mostly right policies), where we need to confront the role of personality in politics in general..”-

    Yes– maybe THAT’S what we do, instead of giving Jack Hitt’s piece more credit than “jacksh*t”. That said, I’d start with a premise that came from Lindsay Beyerstein (blogger “Majikthise”) when addressing the dissing that Nancy Pelosi was getting from some quarters for being so… “motherly”, onstage, to wit:

    ..”electoral politics is about symbolism, not syllogism. It’s like the Village People. Everyone needs a character..”-

    Well, here comes Hillary- with Lots of character- that’s willing to triangulate, to pander to the Right-wing, to “stand by her man”, to throw down “it takes a Village” at the feet of the Dobson crowd & look them in the eye, to be a carpetbagger, etc- in short, to be a Real Politician. About the only thing she can’t do is smile and wink at the ladies, which has been part of the “personable” male politician’s bread-‘n-butter forever. Will that discourage male voters, who see her as that hard, cold, loyal stainless steel woman who’s interest in them is in their vote- not what’s in their pants? Is her willingness not to throw over a bright, ambitious, handsome, personable Lothario, (jg) going to cost her votes (and , even more critical, respect) among clear-eyed, clear-headed feminists who are committed to deconstructing the very “good old boy” patriarchy that she seems determined to break into (and has, to some extent), because it’s still the “biggest game in town”? Is it possible that the mobocracy could be ready to make a swing like the one they did when they threw over the god-fearing, ex-Navy, nuclear engineer, Southerner who put solar panels on the White house roof, for a Hollywood “Face” full of hot air about “a golden citiy on the hill” (while his cronies screwed his adoring working-class audience)- but, this time, in reverse? In our national spasm of disgust at the brain-dead, coke-head, fat-cat fratboy (and the canny dudes for whom he is a Minion), are we likely to go for the crisp, well-cut candidate of the liberal rich?.. even if means voting for a Woman? Is Nancy Pelosi the “Moses” that “Joshua” Hillary needs to bring down the walls of “good old boy” Jericho? hmmm…

    My politics are a lot like O.C.Parrot’s… and my growing awareness of the “process-junkie” world of politics gives me an insight to votes like Hillary’s for the war in Iraq. If you see what’s inevitable, and you know that your personal ambitions will depend upon appearing tough enough to go to war, sometime, well, a vote for the war, given the “cover” provided by the CIA & Colin Powell, is a step on the way to the “I’m shocked… shocked!” postures- tight lipped, arched brows and fingers of accusation pointing at the heart of the current WhiteHouse posse… mebbe not so noble, but muy politick… & a time for Nobility will come around, again… I don’t imagine that Hillary Rodham Clinton considers herself the “best” candidate; but may see fit to assume the character of “Most Logical” candidate, as the best means to achieve her end… ^..^

  • rc21

    Her cattlesfuture dealings turned me off long ago. I know a few people who are pretty knowledgeable on this subject. Their feelings were that dishonest dealings were taking place. I tend to agree.

    I could care less about her sexual exploits or her atractiveness. I just want someone who is fairly honest. They don’t even have to be totally honest. I’ve given up hopes for that along time ago.

  • I agree with OCP and plnelson that the approach to this show on Hilary Clinton needs a rethink, Robin.

    On the question of her electibility, one problem Hillary faces is the high value placed on patriarchy in US society today. Michael Adams in American Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United StatesAmerican Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United States, reports on the results of surveys conducted every 4 years since 1992 by his market research firm, Environics. The results show a steady increase in support for patriarchy over this time from 42% in 1992 to 52% in 2004. What is surprising is that this is higher than in what one would think are traditionally more patriachical societies, such as Mexico (42%) or Italy. American’s northern neighbour over the same period saw a drop from 26% to 18% to the statement “Father must be master in his own house.”

    This creates quite a dilemma for a woman who seeks the presidency. Does she act more tough and manly and turn many traditional women and progressives off, or more more feminine and appear too weak to lead this aggressive nation. No wonder Hilary triangulates and says everything and nothing all at once.

  • I don’t respect any senator who gave Bush the War Powers but nobody ever talks about John McCain in terms who would want to “do” him or what a bitch he is. And I’d like to know why not. If you heard the way he sucked up to Bush at the Republican convention you have to admit he is a total bitch.

  • “You hate her for her hair”

    And furthermore, before you say a WORD about Hillary’s hair we need to talk about John McCain’s combover-do.

  • rc21

    I don’t know to many people who would turn down an early release from a POW camp out of loyalty and friendship to his brother pow’s .

    I may question some of McCains political stances but I don’t think we could ever call him a bitch. I never liked that word anyway.

  • plnelson

    Sidewalker says one problem Hillary faces is the high value placed on patriarchy in US society today. Michael Adams in American Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United StatesAmerican Backlash: The Untold Story of Social Change in the United States,

    I went to the link you included and it had nothing about patriarchy, Michael Adams, etc.

    Could you briefly summarize the conclusions and methods of this study and define “patriarchy” and “support for patriarchy”.

    Maybe it’s just that I spend most of my time with people who can use multisyllabic words and whose knuckles don’t scrape the ground, but I can’t think of ANYONE I know personally who would endorse a statement like “Father must be master in his own house.” If Michael Adams found widespread support for that idea I think he’s either making it up, or is using flawed methodology.

  • plnelson

    nobody ever talks about John McCain in terms who would want to “do” him or what a bitch he is. And I’d like to know why not. If you heard the way he sucked up to Bush at the Republican convention you have to admit he is a total bitch.

    Exactly. McCain appealed to a lot of liberals and moderates despite his conservative voting record, due to his reputation as a straight-shooter and a maverick who didn’t kiss up to anyone. That was his core strength, sort of the way Volvo and SAAB built their reputations around crash-safety.

    But the way McCain has been kissing up to Bush and to the religious right during this last year, is a bit as if Volvo and SAAB started building cars that folded up like accordians and burst into flame the instant they hit a traffic cone. He’s seriously undermining his image.

  • hurley

    Isn’t this discussion premature? Nearly two years to the next elections and we’re obliged to contemplate the sorry figure of HRC? Her time will come, and would that it passed quickly, but it won’t. There are better things to talk about in the meantime. I’d be happy to be proved wrong. I wouldn’t vote for her — the flag-burning amendment, the vote in support of the Iraq war, etc. Deadly, boring stuff. Throw your weight behind someone worthy, in about a year, say. Let’s cut down on the noise in the meantime.

  • Potter

    I don’t find GWB likeable (to put it mildly), not from day one. I would much rather see Nancy Pelosi as chief executive than Hilary Clinton if I had to choose the first woman in that office. That said, if we are going to indulge in gossip about Hilary and Bill Clinton’s personal life I have to say ( less coarsely) that after my horror over the outrageous impeachment of an otherwise (comparatively speaking) good president (as we ignore the much more worthy impeachable offenses of this one) and the media circus that surrounded that whole Monica Lewinsky episode, that their marriage survived when it did not have to) is to me admirable. And I don’t think they stayed together b/c they had to for personal ambitions. At some point, beyond her own hurt feelings, I imagine that Hilary Clinton understood that this was about Bill Clinton’s personal problems and yes she stood by him because she loved him that deeply. And He, Bill Clinton, was deeply sorry. You don’t throw people you love away. And there it was for all of us to see. But everyone, I guess took something different from it. That’s what I took.

    NO – I do not want to see her get the Democratic nomination, but we could do a lot worse.

    (PS- I like her current hairdo.)

  • Potter

    Add to the soup: I did not like her “windsock” reaction to the Dubai/port security brouhaha.

  • Robin

    Hi guys.

    I’m not surprised this thread heated up so quickly but I am surprised that some of you are saying we shouldn’t be having this conversation at all. Let me see if I can explain why we’re doing this show this way, and why we think it’s interesting and important.

    We could stick to the straight and narrow and just talk about her political views, her “conversations with America,” whether she has a chance against Barak Obama in the ’08 elections, all the expected stuff, but would any of you want to listen to that show? I wouldn’t want to produce it. It’s boring, or at least totally expected, because it’s exactly what everybody else – C-Span, the Economist, the WaPo, I mean, you *name* it and *that’s* the conversation people are having about her. At least in public. And I totally believe Jack Hitt on this point because I’ve heard it myself and I remember it vividly from the Clinton ’90s, that this is *not* the conversation our polite PC society is having about Hillary Clinton in private. (Or in a lot of other public ways too.)

    You’re totally right peggysue. We’re not having the same conversation about John McCain, and I want to know why not, too. We’re not talking about his marriage or his hair or scrutinizing him nearly the same way that Hillary Clinton has always been scrutinized. That’s exactly the point. Why do people talk the way they do about Hillary Clinton? Why do they say all the outrageous and completely offensive things they do about her? (Things I think Jack Hitt nailed in the paragraph I quoted, which I quoted precisely because he nailed the coarsest, most offensive things people say about her.)

    To me the answer is in some ways incredibly obvious but also very complex: we are still profoundly afraid of or disconcerted by powerful women, and we still have not figured out how to deal with the role of women in public life. That’s why Hillary Clinton is a fascinating person to me, and that’s why I wanted us to do this show. It’s not just about politics, and it’s definitely not just about her. We can’t just pretend this stuff doesn’t exist because it does. These are profound, deeply rooted cultural norms that shape our society, and I think we should be talking about them rather than pretending they don’t exist. (I think herbert browne has done a good job starting to pick apart how the gender calculus is directly relevant to the political conversation too.)

    So sidewalker, you say you want us to rethink the direction of this show, but it actually sounds like we’re very much on the same page. That stuff you mentioned about the role of patriarchy sounds totally fascinating and completely relevant to this conversation. I can’t wait to read it.

    I promise you, we’re not going to be gossiping or being catty on this show. But we are going to try and understand why she (and her husband) set people off the way they do. I promise you, it’s not just about her politics.

  • plnelson

    Why do we hate her more than we hate Nancy Pelosi, or Barbara Boxer, or, I don’t know, Carly Fiorina?

    Speak for yourself!

    I don’t like Hillary Clinton, but I don’t hate her. Fiorina, on the other hand . . .

    I’ve been an HP stockholder for years. I first heard Fiorina in person at Fall Comdex in Las Vegas just as she was taking over. I also attended talks there by Bill Gates, Scott McNealy, and Linus Torvalds. All the latter were dressed casually in jeans or Dockers and sweaters or casual shirts. Fiorina was dressed to the nines, so I immediately marked her as a lightweight.

    Sure enough HP’s stock plummetted from over 60 down to the teens. None of my other tech stocks dropped like that and with the exception of HP all of them have since recovered to OVER what I paid – HP is my only long-term loser, thanks to Carly.

    Carly Fiorina literally cost me 10’s of thousands of dollars! She forgot the NUMBER ONE job description of a CEO: a CEO’s number one, most important job is to increase shareholder value.

    When Fiorina took over.

  • Sutter

    I’m ambivalent on this one. One the one hand, I agree with Robin that some of the points people make above speak precisely to the points you seem to be trying to tease out: WHY do we care about her hair, etc.? And are there behaviors people will countenance (or cheer) in a male candidate that are unacceptable in a female candidate?

    The problem, though – for me at least – is that Hillary herself is freighted with some much baggage that she is not an able representative of “The Female Candidate.” She’s not a Rorschach test (solely) because she’s a woman. She’s a Rorschach test because, among other things, she has appeared to be all over the map on critical issues, zigging left and right for apparently political reasons. She not a Rorschach test because she’s a successful woman, but because she’s viewed by some as representing a very specific view of what a successful woman should be (recall the “stand by your man”/“suppose I could have stayed at home baking cookies” remarks in 1992). I could go on. The point here is not to criticize HRC – I will almost surely vote for her if she is the Democratic nominee, and I might vote for her in the primary (though I lean elsewhere right now, and would have vastly preferred Mark Warner). Rather, the point is to recognize that her status as the first plausible female candidate doesn’t automatically make her a suitable vehicle for examining these crucial underlying issues about gender in American politics.

  • You can go here…

    http://www.hillaryclinton.com/

    to see video clips of Hillary. Last night I watched a clip from the ladies talk show The View. She is wearing a lot of pink these days and wore pink on this show. She spent more than half the time talking about making Christmas Crafts with her family and family traditions before she said anything about the state of the country. It reminded me of something I read by Gloria Steinem about how the higher up the power elite ladder a woman goes the more intense the gender-coded restrictions become. Examples: Queen Elizabeth I of England wore her corset tighter than anyone. Empresses in China had their feet bound the tightest. I remember thinking about this years ago when I saw Hillary Clinton giving a speech at a global women’s conference in China. She gave a very powerful speech dressed in a pink suit and pearls. She looked very pretty but the pink carries its own code.

    see Code Pink: women liberating a color while calling for an end to war.

    http://www.womensaynotowar.org/article.php?list=type&type=100

  • Sutter

    And just to bring home my point, if I’m right that the specifics in HRC’s case undermine her use as a symbol for women in politics, the show is bound to descend into gossip and cattiness, because there is no basis for drawing out the broader points.

  • herbert browne

    (From peggysue):..”I saw Hillary Clinton giving a speech at a global women’s conference in China. She gave a very powerful speech dressed in a pink suit and pearls. She looked very pretty but the pink carries its own code..”-

    Right on… and, in China, MORE than one (code). I read an article about Chinese New Year awhile back, that parenthetically mentioned the popularity of Brown & Haley’s ALMOND ROCA as an ideal gift, there, around the New Year: the color of the can corresponds to an expression of good wishes of prosperity and happiness to the recipient in the coming year.

    Re plnelson’s comment: ..” the NUMBER ONE job description of a CEO: a CEO’s number one, most important job is to increase shareholder value..”-

    if true, that militates strongly against allowing corporations the privilege of “personhood’, since that single-purposed edict (especially when interpreted short-term) allows the CEO to remove any trace of altruism or historical continuity or even long-term strategies from consideration- a bit like constantly being reborn a screaming, demanding infant whose battle cry is “I’m for ME FIRST!” If it’s simply all about money (or “speech”, as they know it, in the Supreme Court cloak-room), then corporate personhood should, perhaps, be replaced by “machinehood”- and governed accordingly.

    This difference of opinion may have the germ of a show in it. (My own definitions of “shareholder” are: someone who expects something for nothing; and someone with more money than they need, who prefers to yield the responsible management of it to another party, in order to keep making more money.)

    Re “Carly Fiorina” (dressed to the nines or not)- it’s interesting that she was the ONLY CEO OF A “DOW-JONES AVERAGES” COMPANY WHO WAS A WOMAN at the time of her resignation- and that the stock gained 7 points that day, based on nothing more than that- & the anticipation that a Man would be taking over. She came in around the “tech bubble blowout”, did a controversial thing (bucking the family’s wishes on the compaq acquisition), brought product diversity to a kicking & screaming Board of directors, and… and was a WOMAN, for godsakes- in Business! I saw her lumped into a group of “crappiest CEOs” with Larry Ellison (another big failure) by some bizpundits, a couple of years ago… but HP is gonna live (& prosper, most likely)- and some grudging “damning with faint praise” will come her way eventually, I imagine. (I can also imagine a tech reporter seeing her when you did, at that Fall Comdex, if she had been in a sweater & jeans, snarking ..”& Carly Fiorina, looking for all the world like an aging co-ed..” She just may not be a “sweater & jeans” kind of gal, pl…)

    So let’s do a show on CEOs, &/or a show on “corporations in their places of birth- and why they all move to Delaware” &/or “arbitragers… what are they doing?.. and how does it affect those they do it to… and for whom they do it” &/or “what is the’Smart Money’?.. and what if EVERYONE sent their money to join in?” ^..^

  • Robin, you’ve convinced me. As long as the show stays away from the gossip and sticks to gender values, role models, and as peggy sue points out, the semiotics of HRC, it should be an interesting take. Just how many of HRC’s policy decisions are based on her view of the public good and for interest group support and how many, like the pink dresses, are posturing for voters who expect tough, manly leadership?

    If you could get Michael Adams on the show, I think it would really add depth.

  • silvio.rabioso

    It sounds like the community has decided to take a serious look at this issue. Perhaps this is overreaching a bit, but I think it would be worth a try to see if Judith Butler would pre-record a segment for the show to give some theoretical background, or perhaps Catharine MacKinnon could reformulate the debate in terms of workplace (in this case, the _political_ workplace) sexual harassment.

    An aside: if one takes a step back, it is quite humbling even to be having this conversation. For all our rhetoric of liberty, freedom and equality, we are one of a small and ever-shrinking group of democratic countries that has yet to elect a female head of state. That simple and shameful fact gives one pause. Just think: we justify (in part) our military actions in the Afghanistan and Iraq using the rhetoric of women’s rights, but our own domestic political system is STILL incapable of taking a female presidential candidate seriously.

    As the previous posters have so forcefully and eloquently stated, the true effect of that horrendously vulgar question ‘who would do her?’ is to undermine the candidate’s credibility by casting her as a sexual object (as opposed to, say, a human being).

  • silvio.rabioso
  • OliverCranglesParrot

    Robin and ROS,

    I for one appreciate the explanation. However, if we’re going to plumb the depths of humanity’s ability for inflammatory, non PC dialog on this show, using Senator Clinton as the launch pad for how we discuss gender issues (what we talk about when we talk about Hilary), then I think it incumbent upon ROS to explore the baser racial history of America as well; using coarse, suggestive, non PC language, of course. Because, Senator Obama is an individual of mixed ancestry, some of which I understand to be African. And, he is currently running for president. Individuals of this racial make-up have been exposed and victimized by some of the most vile, violent treatment within the boundaries of the U.S. Accompanied by some of the most vile, violent, bitter private discussions. After all, he will serve as a further reminder of the emasculation and fear of the American white male, just like Senator Clinton. Therefore, I believe a discussion can be kicked off with something along the lines of the following: It’s why the most coarsest cracker peckerwood can suggest: “If that Boy gets elected, he’s going to meet a mighty unfriendly ending at the end of a rope or bullet.” Or something along those lines.

    And don’t leave out his potential for sexual prowess, because you know, there’s always some truth to these myths. If we can put Senator Clinton on the pedestal of harmless locker room chit-chat, let’s not miss an opportunity to explore the myth of the black male and sexual forbidden fruit. I believe his wife is white? Or are you working from the assumption that this sort of chatter isn’t going to occur in America? Perhaps, Jack Hitt just hasn’t turned that rock over yet? How about Senator Lieberman? We could explore his ancestory, no? I mean, we don’t want to miss any opportunity for exploration of how people talk off-line privately? Gentile thoughts about jewish leaders might make for downright fine radio. I’ll try to work up a full list of possible topics that can dredge up some of the lowest form of dialog that don’t happen in polite conversation regarding our politicians and other public figures. We can churn this stuff around and examine what it says about us, which really mean, says about the ‘other’.

    If I seem flagrantly ‘tweaked’ it’s because I am. If you want to construe that as advocating censorship or shutting down discussion, I’d respectfully disagree. It’s a matter of approach, decorum, and agenda; editorial scrutiny and judgement. If weighing these matters spits out answer that adds up to boring radio, your show, proceed as you must. I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts (as muddled as they are) with you and the other folks on the forum.

  • “Has any American icon been so variously reviled as Hillary Clinton? She inspires a kind of passionate hatred that somehow trumps the malice we feel even for other politicians.”

    WHAT? You’ve never heard of George W. Bush? If we want to mirror our inner war criminal lets choose someone worthy of our darkest ugliest most extreame hatred.

  • silvio.rabioso & OliverCranglesParrot – I agree, Thanks.

    It seems it is not OK to hit a man below the belt but when it comes to women it is expected punishment for seeking power.

  • nother

    Robin, thank you for contributing something as Robin and not only as Robin the producer.

    The topic – I remember my mom’s jerk boyfriend many years ago (before she remarried) conversing with me about a baseball team that was considering hiring the first black manager since Frank Robinson. I was very young but I’ll always remember what he said, “they already had a black manager and he sucked.” Even as a young kid that statement did not make sense to me. That one black manager was supposed to represent all potential black managers? His statement was so ignorantly stark, that he actually did me a favor by shining a light on the more subtle ignorance around us. That jerk’s reasoning may sound archaic or ludicrous but I guarantee you that Hillary would carry the same wait as Robinson, by representing all women – if she was to become the prez.

    You know part of me has always had that that thought that there would be less war if women ruled the world. But now I know the argument is intellectually unsound. Besides, I’ve seen my share of woman be as catty and contentious as the next person. The true categorization in play here is Individual FIRST, “woman” – somewhere way down the line. As individuals we are as susceptible to influences of politics and power as the next person. Hillary is a prime example, she has been “right” on a very wrong war. Some of the more clever liberals may surmise with some psychobabble that she is over-compensating for a perceived lack of toughness. I might reply with my psychobabble that her views are not out of step with her start as a Goldwater Republican.

    The point is, it’s all a conjecture of crap. Hillary the woman is as much like Condi, as GW the man is like Gandhi.

  • OCP, you make and important point, but as Hitt’s article shows, this gossip about Hillary is not just in private discussions but very public and now even more public. Should ROS validate it by giving it more play or just let it pass by?

    I think ROS should do two things. The first is to analyze Hitt’s kind of media. What is its purpose? Who is its audience? Etc. Second is to analyze what is being said about HRC, by whom, where, when, etc. Again it is media analysis. This can include a look at what it says about the values of the American public.

    In addition, this is a good opportunity to consider the whole hyper-exposer of political candidates that is peculiarly American.

  • JackHitt

    There are many arguments here, but as the author of the Mother Jones article, let me start by responding to three. Should we not have this discussion at all because it is worthless or I am worthless since I’m just trying to “sell books” or show off my “wordsmithery”? (Who cannot admire a post that condemns another’s sesquipedalianismo by flexing one’s own. Nice.) This position—that a certain discussion should not even occur–keeps coming up in so many debates these days. Earlier this week, Dick Cheney simply instructed Wolf Blitzer that he would not answer a question about his gay daughter’s pregnancy: “I think the world of both my daughters and all of my grandchildren. And I think, frankly, you’re out of line with that question,” Cheney lectured.

    The question was actually a good one, which focused on Cheney’s staunchest defenders on most issues – Focus on the Family – saying harsh and cruel things about his daughter’s decision. But, increasingly, the counter-argument against any topic of discussion is an angry denunciation of the debate itself and an attempt to soil the messenger. I respectfully dissent.

    A second argument is that all this talk of Hillary’s sexuality, her First Ladyship, her pants suits, her views on motherhood, and the rest is just more of the usual guff that high-profile women have to endure. That’s true. How to deal with that? By stopping the discussion of public image with regard to women or expanding this allegedly superficial subject to men? For the record, MSNBC did take note of Dick Cheney’s suit when President Bush entered Congress for the State of the Union address. The pundits at MSNBC said he looked “dapper.” As to Madame Speaker Pelosi’s dress? Here was their comment: It “looks like it cost more than most Americans pay for their first home.” And MSNBC is condemned by Republican commentators as tilting toward the Democrats. I agree that yet one more discussion of how the media always comment on a high-profile women’s looks is tiresome. But I want to argue that Americans critique Hillary Clinton in a way that far transcends anything good or bad, political or personal, that gets said about Elizabeth Dole, Condoleezza Rice, Susan Collins or Mary Landrieu. It’s far more complicated with Clinton. I report the good side (Hillary has a hidden vote that supports her) and the bad (John McCain’s unforgiveable joke about Chelsea). All of this personal chatter points to one thing: that Clinton is still the trailblazer she was when she was the college valedictorian who infuriated the administration with her feminist address to the students, the first female law partner in Arkansas, the governor’s wife, the First Lady, the carpetbagging senator, and now presidential candidate. Sure, there were pioneers such as Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisolm, but Clinton is the first candidate with a likely chance of winning. Even now she is trying to tweak the image issues I brought up in the article. Her website features carefully presented intimate “chats” (Clinton’s own choice of word) set on a cozy sofa before nice drapes and flowers that looks like a concerned mom broadcasting from her living room. She talks politics but ultimately clarifies little new about her policy positions. Instead, she reveals herself as a regular joe (she talks about her support of the Chicago Bears and that her favorite movies are the Wizard of Oz, Casablanca and Out of Africa). The first question in these chats is about being a woman and being president, and in her answer she notes, however formally, about a new path being blazed here. The chats toggle between domestic topics (her first proposal is health care for children, another clip that turns largely on the paper chains she and Chelsea used to make at Christmas, and more talk about her early work for the Children Defense Fund) and crisp policy analysis (she gives her first good answer to the issue of her Iraq vote—although some like Frank Rich think her rhetoric was too weaselly). Still, she is clearly embarked once again on making the complexity of her public persona work for her in a political campaign. Another YouTube video up this morning is quite humanizing. I suspect her campaign leaked it: The clip is a charming moment that accidentally captures her singing the national anthem off-key.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfZ_gXCHaMw&eurl=

    One can argue that all this kind of image-shaping stuff is petty, superficial and has nothing to do with politics, but I just disagree.

    Which gets to the third argument. Isn’t all this general focus on a politician’s personal life (male or female) ultimately degrading the political process? Could be, but no election in American history has ever been without it. Read Benjamin Franklin Bache’s rants on George Washington’s treachery more than 200 years ago, the vicious attacks on potential candidate Alexander Hamilton’s infidelity with one Maria Reynolds, or the first Sally Hemings accounts, which surfaced as political attacks on Jefferson. Part of any voter’s decision to support a candidate does have something to do with the shaping of his or her public persona. One last anecdote: Two years ago, I was writing a story about campaign-trail food and how it is so often small-d democratic: fried chicken, bbq, clambake, spaghetti dinner, etc. Like the Mother Jones article, one could easily trash it, arguing that how candidates eat and socialize is irrelevant to the ultimate political decision. True, sort of. But while I was researching that article in the summer of 2004, I came upon two little stories—one involved John Kerry entering a Wendy’s hamburger joint with the media in tow and looking up at the lighted menu sign in complete confusion, and then another story of George Bush walking into a diner and horsing around with everybody and at one point he grabbed a big spoon and literally started ladling out hash to the surprised customers. I turned to my wife and said, Bush can’t lose. These were images that never left me that campaign year. After the election was over and folks were debating just how Kerry blew it, whenever I told the stories about Kerry at Wendy’s and Bush in the diner, people would just nod their heads, as if they explained something fundamental.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    I want to say that the words and tone of all the commentators on this thread have been extremely well done and I’ve read them all with extreme interest. As for me, I’ve crossed my personal boundary of decency and I am now crossing back over. I don’t enjoy channeling these darker ideas even in the service of what I feel are an important set of points. After a nights rest, I realize this.

    Words are often the delivery vehicle for ideas and core principles. They can be extremely volatile, dangerous things; they have multiple uses. They have an incalculable shelf-life and range across the terrain of the mind over a wide swath of space-time. Their trajectory can be extremely unpredictable. Weapon systems come and go, but words and ideas persist well beyond the mothballed, graveyards of weapons and the human beings who meant to stride across their version of the totality of the universe bringing it to heal. Doesn’t mean we should shut down and gaze at our navels in trembling silence. Simply suggesting to myself and no other, I need to remember this about using words to explore my own ideas and act accordingly. My harangue has ended. If you mistake this for wooly-headed, polly anna, I wouldn’t know where to begin in telling you how incorrect that conclusion would be, so I won’t.

    Thank you nother. You reminded me of an episode that occurred within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization in the 1980s. Harry Edwards was hired to to deal with the fallout of the fiasco with Al Campanis’ public blunders. His strategy was interesting to say the least. A brief description and Al Campanis Wiki. You make an extremely valuable point…one not far from several incidents within my own experience.

    Thank you sidewalker. You bring up very valuable questions and excellent insight. You keep me honest and tethered amigo, I do appreciate it.

    I will now admit something: I refused to read the piece by Mr. Hitt. I am not going to reward this style of commentary with my web hit or magazine purchase. My choice, I exercise it with the discretion and wisdom that it may keep me ignorant to a larger point(s). This is not fear and anxiety of confronting mind altering ideas, this is carrots and sticks. I have requirements for conversation. We all make trade offs and must exercise them with prudence. In an open society, I exercise my choices (within legal boundaries) at my own discretion and answer to no one for them. I’m not evangelizing here, simply explaining. I do not own a Television, yet I see no reason to tote a “Kill your T.V.” bumper sticker. My choices are mine, your choices are yours. We muddle through as best we can.

    And Mr. Hitt, thank you for your comment. You make fine points and have much talent. You have actually articulated some of the counter arguments (a little strawmanish, perhaps), and for this I commend you. It is sorely missing from so much commentary. It is refreshing. We’ll have to agree to disagree with your approach to things. As to this “Who cannot admire a post that condemns another’s sesquipedalianismo by flexing one’s own. Nice.” I am a rank amateur sir, you are a professional. The difference should and will be apparent to most. I’ve taken my smackin’, and I withdraw my cheap shot. I am not tired of my amateur status, but I am tired of playing bonzo with a flame thrower. An amateur and a flame thrower should never get together, this needs to be left to the professionals (and no, I’m not hurling passive-aggressive accusations towards anyone in particular…)

  • chris carrier

    In the end, Hillary will vote for Obama. She loves this country, she understand what is needed and she can be honest about what Obama brings to the table.

    I pray with evangelical ferver that whoever replaces Bush will be this black man or this woman.

  • plnelson

    I pray with evangelical ferver that whoever replaces Bush will be this black man or this woman.

    . . . That’s why Marx said that religion is the opiate of the people.

    I’ve seen enough of Clinton’s voting record and who she kisses up to to know I don’t like her. Obama has been vary cagey of the specifics of his positions so until he commits himself to detailed positions I think any intelligent voter should withhold judgement and support from him.

    Bush, of course, is/was a disaster. But that doesn’t mean that either Clinton or Obama won’t also be disasters in their own special ways. We have to avoid the old southern yellow-dog Democrat philosophy. (For those who don’t know their US history, “yellow dog Democrats” were southern Democrats who were so blindly loyal to their party that they would “vote for a yellow dog if he ran on the Democratic ticket”. But they did not extend that courtesy to black humans, and as a result the yellow dog Democrats elected George Wallace, Lester Maddox, and other segregationists.)

    Anyway, lots of people DO have a problem with Obama’s color, namely that he’s too GREEN. He’s been a US Senator for only 2 years and has never held any major executive position. He’s too much of an unknown to get all excited about – the emotional response that liberals seem to be having for him is irrational at this point.

  • rc21

    I loved Obamas response when asked ”Do you favor big government or small government?” His response, in his true honest, straight talking style was ”I favor smart government” Great. I love pols who wont answer a simple question.

  • plnelson

    “I loved Obamas response when asked ‘’Do you favor big government or small government?’’ His response, in his true honest, straight talking style was ‘’I favor smart government’’ Great. I love pols who wont answer a simple question.

    In fairness to Obama, it was a stupid question. It’s the political equivalent of “do you still beat your wife?”

    I’m an engineer and we have an old saying: “A pessimist sees the glass half empty; an optimist sees the glass half full, a engineer sees the glass as the wrong size for the contents.”

    The RIGHT size for the government is the size APPROPRIATE for the functions that the voters DECIDE they want the government to perform.

    Most of the people who say government is “too big” squeal like stuck pigs if you close a military base in their district, cancel a defense contract with a company they or their wife is employed with, or threaten to cut back on their Social Security or Medicare benefits, or reduce their federal student loan eligibility. “Small government” conservatives are perfectly happy to expand the power of the federal government to ban gay marriage or flag burning, or internet porn, etc.

  • babu

    Backtracking somewhat, I think that the main thrust of this conversation, namely gender bias in public life, could have been framed by ROS to avoid further demonization of Hillary Clinton by simply asking why we rely so heavily on soft porn to sell anything decide anything say anything stop traffic, etc. It’s the female body which is on trial here; Hilary is merely the unfortunate possessor of that disdained object.

    The natural corollary of this question on soft porn is why the fundamentalist movements are so characteristically prudish on the same issue.

    If we can address why we continue to pornography women then perhaps we can breach the subject of what it takes to stop doing it at various levels of public life.

  • Re: Yellow Dogs – We would have been MUCH better off the last 6 years with a Golden Retreiver in the oval office.

  • I think it was this sentence that got me snarling and spitting…

    “Hillary is an avatar of an existential dread skulking in the hearts of every couple who’ve tried to put together a life since the feminist revolution.” Jack Hitt

    Personally, I think the existential dread in male/female relationships is rooted in the Patriarchial take over that happened over 2000 years ago. The feminist revolution is merely a corrective.

  • As for Mr. Hitt’s “deep fears that emerged alongside feminism”. I think this is something best taken up with his therepist.

  • GodzillaVsBambi

    Hillary and liberal ideology symbolize a threat to the current conservative revival in America. Some say even to America itself. But power is supposed to be shared, not hogged. Conservatives believe that not only liberals, but democrats in general truly do not understand the depth of the threat that Islamic extremism poses to the West.

    While offering no solution to the terrorist threat democrats seem to believe (and this psychological dilemma is also currently a huge problem in the UK) that we can, somehow, make the terrorists like us. We simply cannot understand why they want to kill us. Why can’t they be civilized like us? “What did we do?” is the inevitable self loathing question that so many liberals pose. We must have done something to make them angry. Now lets go and find [correlative] reasons such as support for Israel, or maintaining a presence in the Middle East to protect our access to the oil there, Halliburton etc. Lets try to further cement in our minds the rationalizations we use to support our point of view. Why? Because we are liberal and we take things ‘personally’. Our ‘personal privacy’ is more important than the security of the country. We are too educated and enlightened to focus our rage at those who are actually trying to kill us. So let’s focus it on Bush so that we may exercise our freedom of speech. This kind of liberalism is suicidal if one does not take into account the changing legal definitions of privacy in 21st Century life. America is at her best when forced to adapt to a new situation. Too bad most of the resistance to that adaptation comes from within.

    Lets invite the terrorists back into the country to kill as many of us as they can. Why? Because we deserve it. We must have done something wrong. Mothers, fathers, sons, daughters. Their throats can be cut while we stand by and watch. Our rage will be focused not on those holding the knife, but on those who protect us from those holding the knife. Yes, that’s what we’ll do. Like teenagers rebelling against authority; (all ‘we’ care about is): the continuing narcissism of the Me Generation; the progeny of the baby boomers; generation x and the spawn of moral relativism. Yes, that’s right, Hillary has the answers. She understands the Middle East, Russian and Chinese influence there; geopolitical maneuvering; conflict ideology and the history of Baku. Yes, Hillary will save us from the terrorists while maintaining America’s status as a superpower.

    Regardless of party affiliation the Commander In Chief must understand this or be willing to be educated quickly. If he or she does not, we are doomed. Welcome to the 21st Century.

    Daniel BramGolah@gmail.com

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  • tbrucia

    I’d be surprised if Hillary were to win 20 percent of the vote in Texas…. In fact, that might be optimistic. The good news is that she’d get more votes than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, David Duke, or Ayman Al-Zawahiri. I can’t think of anyone more disliked by most people down here except possibly Teddy ‘Chappaquiddick’ Kennedy. —- And never forget that Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was funded by Houstonian Bob Perry: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/002141.php People like Bob are ready and willing to open up their wallets.

  • Robin

    Hi again everyone-

    Thanks for listening, writing back and generally being the provocative crew that you are. And thanks, Jack, for weighing in. (I don’t know about you guys but in the Green Room we think it’s pretty rad that more and more guests are weighing in on the thread.)

    A couple more things:

    Sutter – respectfully, I totally disagree with what you’re saying. Granted HRC has more baggage than average, but she’s a real person, a woman, and a politician, and like Jack Hitt says, she has a real chance of winning, baggage and all. There’s never going to be an “ideal female candidate” for us to hold up and analyze, and there’s no time like the present.

    Peggysue’s post reminds me of this article from the NY Times this weekend.

    Silvio, I agree that Judith Butler would be super interesting on this subject. We probably can’t get her on such short notice, but I promise to try and get her at some point in the future.

    OCP – I appreciate how deeply you seem to care about how we conduct conversations on the show and the substance of how we approach ideas and discuss them on the air, and all of the contributions you make to these threads. Thanks for pitching in and making us answer for our ideas. I will say though, that I’m a little shocked that you would argue against this show so vehemently without taking the time to read Jack Hitt’s article! C’mon, I know you can do better than that.

    I know you’re being snide with your proposal, but Chelsea has actually been pitching a show on Barak Obama very similar to the one you’re describing. People are absolutely talking about his race as a factor (duh), and saying things like, is he really black, or is he an immigrant, and does it matter? Even people like Stanley Crouch. (Ok, maybe it’s not surprising that Stanley Crouch would be taking that line, but it’s still interesting.) I sent around your comment to the whole staff this morning to make sure they read it as a pitch. So far we decided that the major difference between talking about Clinton and Obama was that she has 15 plus years of history in the public eye for us to talk about, while he has mostly what some people refer to snidely as “the Audacity of Hype.” Even if you’re being completely sarcastic or now regret what you posted, we’re with you on the importance of talking about him. (And just so you know, his wife is not white.)

    Ok, thanks again (and thank you to everyone who I didn’t mention by name but whose comments I read). This thread is really rich.

  • I simply want to point out that Senator Clinton is just that, a senator, and we should not refer to her as “Hillary”. Please give her the respect she deserves.

  • OCP – Don’t worry, you didn’t miss much. After a litany of why every body supposedly hates Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Hitt almost redeemed himself by conceding that she still might win anyway. It was way too little too late in my opinion.

    Mr. Hitt’s dismissal of feminism including his referral to Gloria Steinem as the “last confederate widow” sticks in my craw.

    Denial of the evils of patriarchy is right up there with denial of the holocaust, worse, because it’s so insidious.

  • Robin – Re: NYT article. Women who have raised children do know how to manage crisis. On the other hand while I may not agree with any of Condoleezza Rice’s policies it isn’t being single that is her downfall and it should not be ignored that Laura Bush has been just as catty about Ms. Rice’s marital status as anyone on the democrat side of the aisle. Women should be able to wear pink or blue (or chintz), have children or not, be married or not, get divorced or not and still run the country just as well as any man.

    It is good to have a guest contribute to the blog but I hope Mr. Hitt is not your only guest lined up for this show. I’d like to hear Gloria Steinem’s take on this issue.

  • plnelson

    by simply asking why we rely so heavily on soft porn to sell anything decide anything say anything stop traffic, etc. It’s the female body which is on trial here; Hilary is merely the unfortunate possessor of that disdained object.

    Good grief. Hillary Clinton would have no more credibility as a leader if she were male. Her problems are basically the same as John Kerry’s – they’re both a couple of self-important political windsocks.

    As for how we market things – marketers appeal to our desires. If you pay more attention rather than fixating on just one topic, you’ll notice that some advertisements offer to make us rich, or to make us socially popular, or to make us healthy, or to make us more powerful, or to add more fun and sparkle to our lives, or to free us from worry and anxiety, etc, et cetera. Sex is simply ONE OF the many human desires and emotional aspects of our lives that advertisers attempt to appeal to. There is nothing intrinsically good or bad or better or worse about appealing to that aspect of what it means to be human than any other one.

  • I think that whether or not each of us like Hillary Clinton is not the fundamental question here. The question is, “why the intense critique of things not related to job capacity?”

    Jack Hitt is correct in challenging us to think about it and to admit that we do it. We criticize her clothing, her hair, her womanhood, her role as wife, mother, etc. If the woman brokered world peace, we’d still be ragging on her.

    Perhaps we do this to men, as well. But not to the intensity. Women in leadership roles have to have very thick skins. I have had people write to me to express that my business is a brilliant idea, the community I have fostered is a ‘start’ in the city’s social constellation, if only I weren’t there. Of course, I am the sine qua non, but you have to expect, as a woman, that if you have achievements, you will be put under the judgement microscope.

    I could write quite a tome about my observations and theories on the matter, but here’s the core nugget: I believe that when girls and boys are born into this world, girls inherently know that they have one vital role to play for the human species: to carry and birth the future generation. Even if technology changed this, it would take a long time to get this primordial reality out of our psyches. this reality leaves boys to figure out what their self-worth is based upon. It’s pretty well documented that when someone feels insecure, they compensate by bringing others down. So, since the beginning of human time, women have been kept in check. Women have an innate power that men don’t have and so the men use their physical advantage to stake out political power. When women infringe on that territory it brings up this primordial fear of worthlessness. In a desperate attempt to avoid that men go into savage attack mode.

    Just like women in Saudi Arabia who, without the consent of their husbands, take their daughters to be mutilated, women join men in the demonization of other women. Having been beaten down through the millenium, women seeking their own security in the world of men, will lash out at other women indiscriminately.

    How do we all raise our sense of self-worth which will allow us to assess other people based upon their job credentials and not their private lives (which reflect something so different than our ability to do a job well for very complex psychological reasons) or their appearance? The person who can answer this question and implement said answer should be worshipped on high. But, alas, we are only human. So, perhaps we just need to come to terms with ourselves and be honest about what we do so that we can attempt check ourselves at least a bit.

  • herbert browne

    I appreciated plnelson’s explication of the engineer defining the half-glass… right on! I’d take issue with the response to the “female body as advertiser’s eye-candy” however… but don’t care to spend a day at the machine, here.

    What I found most disingenuous about Mr. Hitt’s piece, quoted at the top, was this: ..”deep fears that emerged alongside feminism, grounded, as every question since that revolution is, in the politics of the bedroom..”-

    I must disagree, especially in this instance. We’re not talking “Lysistrata” here (nor “cannon fodder”- may i rhyme the two, someday?), but the, um, unmentioned gorilla (sorry, Bill) in the room- ie Hillary’s roomie- who will Also be back in the White House, should she win. Bill’s obviously “baggage” that works both ways- help & hindrance- and that’s got to be part of the conversation, just as much as the attention paid (not enough, maybe) to Karl Rove’s influence on the current President. Bedroom “politics” aside, or included, isn’t really what feminism is all about… but happens to be the easiest contextual theater in which to play the “schoolyard ‘Nyah Nyah’ card”… ^..^

  • plnelson

    The question is, “why the intense critique of things not related to job capacity?”

    You’re assuming that there IS some unusually “intense critique of things not related to job capacity”. I don’t see the evidence for it.

    ALL politicians get made fun of for SOME things that are unrelated to their job capacity. Look at all the jokes people make about Bush’s tendency to say “nucular”, or Gerry Ford’s alleged clumsiness or Nixon’s 5 o’clock shadow.

    Furthermore we live in a country with 300 million VERY diverse people, so it’s EASY to dig up a few million extremist wacko’s who take stone-age views of women. But that does not amount to showing that it’s a general trend.

    If Hitt or someone else thinks that Hillary Clinton is unusually targeted because shes a woman, and NOT merely because she’s yet another opportunistic, egotistical, pandering, politician-as-usual, then let’s see the hard evidence, and not just the anecdotal subjective hearsay.

  • plnelson

    I simply want to point out that Senator Clinton is just that, a senator, and we should not refer to her as “Hillary”. Please give her the respect she deserves.

    Why?

    We refer to Bill Clinton as “Bubba” and Bush as GWB (or simply “that idiot in the Oval Office) all the time.

  • joshua hendrickson

    respect?

    When, ever, has a politician done something to deserve our respect?

    As Gore Vidal put it so well, in England they have Her Majesty the Queen. In America we have The Goddamned President. I think we have the healthier relationship with our leaders.

  • Luntz is way off the mark. One of the things that garnered her the most criticism was when her comment about not being at home baking cookies. If a man said that he didn’t take out the trash, you wouldn’t hear nearly the backlash. There is tremendous fear of the long-term outcome of women in political power.

  • She is decisive. The reason that I don’t think she has a chance at winning is that we just had a president who said he was uniter and he lied. The populace is desperately seeking someone who truly is a uniter. And I don’t think Hillary embodies that.

  • Why is it dissonant to be a professional, a home keeper, a parent? We don’t have these discussions about men being fathers, household repairmen and professionals. We only seem to analyze this and seek for a unilateral personality with women.

  • I’m disappointed that you guys aren’t talking about why we fear having women in power.

  • silvio.rabioso

    Good question, Allison. In response, I can only reiterate my previous statement: it is shameful that the United States–supposed leader in global human rights (which would, one assumes, include women’s rights)–is not on this list.

    But does that mean we should automatically vote for Hillary because she is a woman? NO. It means that we need to find some way to alter the primary schedule (or better yet: instant run-off voting) so that multiple women can competitively participate in BOTH primaries. Remember, women make up somewhere around half of the US population…that there is only one ‘serious’ female candidate proposed by the two-party system is troubling in itself.

  • vgoss

    I found the radio show extremely interesting, for many reasons. I wanted to hear what the “pundits” had to say, mostly because I am concerned about Hillary’s electability, as they say. I became more concerned as I listened. The women’s voices on the panel were continually shouted out! If this was supposed to be a balanced forum, with all voices being heard – (as, supposedly, in our democratic government) – then I am seriously concerned about the balance of power, about equal rights, about fairness and respect.

  • plnelson

    I’m disappointed that you guys aren’t talking about why we fear having women in power.

    Because we don’t accept your premise (that we fear having women in power). What’s your evidence?

  • plnelson

    I can only reiterate my previous statement: it is shameful that the United States–supposed leader in global human rights (which would, one assumes, include women’s rights)–is not on this list.

    Why is it “shameful”? Women represent a miniscule portion of Senators, Governors, and US representatives, too. They also represent a teensy percentage of corporate leaders. These may represent choices that they, tthemselves, are making . . .

    See: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/20/national/20women.html?ex=1284868800&en=6a8e0c413c09c249&ei=5090

    There was also a great “On Point” (ROS’s cross-town competitor) on this topic . . .

    These address the question of why many intelligent, professionally-trained, Ivy-League-educated women opt OUT of the power rat race.

  • plnelson

    . . . sorry, left out the link, above . . . (When we we be able to EDIT these messages?!)

    http://www.onpointradio.org/shows/2005/09/20050930_b_main.asp

  • frankd

    tonight’s program on wnyc was a complete waste of an hour. i am a devoted listener to the show but i could not figure out what it was i was supposed to learn about hillary’s campaign. one of your guests in response to the dichotomy of the senator’s public popularity and the huge win she had in her senate race left out one of the main reasons i.e. her extremely weak opponent and the total rout of republicans overall. still he was correct in his assessment of her abilities and guardianship of new york. i could not identify with any of the polarizing reasons she is liked or disliked. i happen to be a liberal democrat so she would not be my first choice for nominee. however, should she be nominated there is no question i would vote for her. not because of her yin or the way she dresses or creates flower arrangements or triangulation but because her policies would be more in line with mine. period. frankly, i would prefer to see john edwards or al gore or bill richardson or dennis kuchinich as the nominee abiet i think only john edwards would stand a chance. i believe your show on hillary only creates more discussion of such frivolity and doesn’t advance serious discussion of her political thinking.

  • Sutter

    Robin says:

    Sutter – respectfully, I totally disagree with what you’re saying. Granted HRC has more baggage than average, but she’s a real person, a woman, and a politician, and like Jack Hitt says, she has a real chance of winning, baggage and all. There’s never going to be an “ideal female candidate” for us to hold up and analyze, and there’s no time like the present.

    I’m taken aback, Robin, because I don’t think I said any of what you suggest I said. Of course she might well win, and of course there will never be an ideal female candidate for us to hold up for examination (in fact I’ve repeatedly cited the sillines of trying to abstract away from the particulars on this site). What I’ve said (and what I still believe, although maybe I’ll change my mind when I listen to the show) is that it’s self-indulgent to purport to be using Hillary as a lens for viewing women candidates generally, because what people love and hate about her have so much to do with her particulars — her opportunistic positioning, her specific positions, the fact that she is married to a former president, etc. As I said, I might well wind up voting for her. I just don’t know that she can tell us much about women in politics generally.

  • allisonI believe that when girls and boys are born into this world, girls inherently know that they have one vital role to play for the human species: to carry and birth the future generation. Even if technology changed this, it would take a long time to get this primordial reality out of our psyches. this reality leaves boys to figure out what their self-worth is based upon. It’s pretty well documented that when someone feels insecure, they compensate by bringing others down. So, since the beginning of human time, women have been kept in check. Women have an innate power that men don’t have and so the men use their physical advantage to stake out political power. When women infringe on that territory it brings up this primordial fear of worthlessness. In a desperate attempt to avoid that men go into savage attack mode.

    Allison, what gives? Why the reductionist analysis? Can we really explain the will to dominate and to violence as a response to this insufficiency, this lack of innate power? First we said to be missing ribs and now it gets even worse: we lack purpose.

    If we accept, as Susanne Kappeler argues in The Will to Violence, that violent human behaviour is a type of action that we choose to perform and not just a social phenomenon, we can seek psychological explanations for why some make this choice. But to suggest that this is all physiologically driven and not tied to personal experience, family power relations, socio-economic background, cultural influences, sexuality, etc., seems highly limiting. This is not to say mimetic desire and an inability to fulfill this desire will not play a role in the male urge to dominate women.

    Another trouble I have is your argument replaces the male as universal prototypical figure with the female. Roles reverse but nothing changes. Gendered other as alterity remains. Rather, it seems vital to me to see otherness as intrinsically part of our own nature, to come to terms with our own abnormalities. In doing so, perhaps we will be less inclined to cast these onto other others so as to find acceptance and empowerment.

  • allison: I believe that when girls and boys are born into this world, girls inherently know that they have one vital role to play for the human species: to carry and birth the future generation.

    I respectfully question this notion. It is well documented that the more acess women have to education the less children they have. When women have options and are not limited to that “one vital role” they choose to do many other things.

  • kbaker

    The issue with Hillary has nothing to do with being a woman. She represents the greatest threat to the Democratic Party. During the 1990’s the “new democrats”, including Clinton, Kerry, and Lieberman, sold out the American people. Their position was that the Republicans were right on economic issues and the Republicans were right about social services. The American people decided in 1994 to have real Republicans instead of Democrats trying to be ones. In addition, the Democratic Leadership Council decided that Democrats should campaign like Republicans and concentrate on getting large donations from a small number of investors to finance massive TV ad buys. Real Democrats know our power lies in going door-to-door and actually talking with voters. A Hillary Presidency in 2008 will give Congress back to the Republicans in 2010.

  • “We must have the smartest person for the job or face what this says about us!”

    Give me a break!

    So tired of being manipulated by Hillary, and this whole show just seems like more of it.

    Can some of us just be tired of these two self indulgent overachieving boomers without somehow being anti feminist.

    I am sorry, but I don’t think the future of women in the free world hinges on the satisfaction of some presumed right of Hillary to the ascendency highest position in the land.

    jon http://StudentsForTheEarth.org

  • plnelson

    The issue with Hillary has nothing to do with being a woman. She represents the greatest threat to the Democratic Party. During the 1990’s the “new democrats”, including Clinton, Kerry, and Lieberman, sold out the American people.

    I sort of agree with this.

    I agree that Hillary Clinton’s big negative has nothing to do with her being a woman, but is actually a result of her being in that same group of Democratic politicians mentioned above – Kerry, Lieberman – who have no core values and are basically “Republican Lite”s. Most people prefer the real thing over “lite” beer, “lite” butter, “lite” mayonaise, etc.

    The only area I disagree is that I don’t blame the parties; I blame the voters. If you leave dirty dishes out, and crumbs all over the place, and live like a slob, and your house fills up with cockroaches do you blame the cockroaches? They’re just opportunistically taking advantage of what you’re offering them. Kerry, Clinton, Bush, etc, are just opportunistically taking advantage of the conditions the voters have created by being ignorant of the issues, intellectually lazy, and being more interested in the Simpsons, American Idle, and the latest sales at the mall than in politics, economics, and current events.

  • rc21

    I see a lot of true liberals who think HRC is to moderate for their tastes. I wouldn’t worry. If she does get elected I think we will see the true lefty that she is. She will do her best to make all of the hard lefts wants and desires become reality.

    Why do you think the Times and other msm groups are trying to portray to the country that she is a moderate. It is all part of her well devised plan to gain the vote of the vast majority of people who don’t really follow politics.

    Come election time they read a few articles or watch a few segments produced for the major news networks that portray her as middle of the road,and they decide she’s not to liberal.

    By the way the same holds true with Obama the media has portrayed him as a moderate democrat. Now if we examine his voting record we see he is as liberal as they come. It will be interesting to see who the MSM chooses to represent the party.

  • Pingback: FeminismWeblog()

  • jazzman

    plnelson says: I’m an engineer and we have an old saying: “A pessimist sees the glass half empty; an optimist sees the glass half full, a engineer sees the glass as the wrong size for the contents.”

    Younger engineers might subscribe to the notion that the glass is not capacity optimized as they are used to their computer models generating the optimal sizes for their designs, however an older engineer would likely view the glass design as just right with a 2:1 safety factor in carrying capacity against real world conditions such as jostling which would result in spillage if the glass were optimized to be the “right” size.

    I am an older engineer and work with the age gamut of engineers and find that today’s young engineer in general (there are exceptions) is lost without a computer, modeling S/W and many times fails to recognize when the model spits out unrealistic data. Many lack the discipline to apply scientific method to problem solving and favor a shotgun approach or trial and error. This is why the 6 sigma approach has been successful as it teaches analysis by stepwise refinement (a technique that used to be taught in general science courses.) It’s a pity that there are fewer older more experienced engineers available for mentoring these days but I digress.

  • jazzman

    Hitt argues that what’s interesting is not what our intense reactions to Hillary tell us about her, but what they tell us about ourselves.

    This assertion is textbook psychology 101 (not that I believe the textbook except superficially.) Obviously our intense reactions are about our reflections/projections in the mirror of Hillary, anyone or anything else. This is true of all predilections and one’s behavior is always revelatory to one’s beliefs. Here is what my reactions say about me:

    Hillary (who once claimed to be named for Sir Edmund – in hopes to conflate his achievements to hers in the public mind) is a Zelig extraordinaire, she analyzes her audience psychologically and attempts to become the persona to which she believes the majority of people will respond favorably (i.e., panders) and if embellishment or misdirection fits the Bill (pun intended) then it is proffered. I agree with those who believe that patriarchal chauvinism (got history?) is prevalent in most societies and maybe even more so in the U.S. (perpetuated by both intentional (due to fear and control issues) and ignorant attitudes) and that there is a de facto glass ceiling in power positions.

    I also submit that the reason that there is a dearth of Y-chromosomally challenged representatives in traditionally male dominated roles is due to lack of encouragement, (downright discouragement) by religious and societal psychological imperialism and perhaps that historically women have had the good sense to avoid the trap of overt power wielding (at which men have proved to be less than ideal) and use the subtle power of persuasion.

    Hillary is obviously highly intelligent, but I don’t believe she has as much wisdom (or ethics) as sheer mental ability and it is hard to know what she truly believes regarding serious issues. For example one doesn’t know if her anti-flag burning rhetoric is simply to garner populist votes from those who are unable to abstract the concept of Freedom or a core value of someone equally abstractly challenged and her unapologetic pro-Iraq invasion stance is to say “I can be as tough and as big an idiot as any man – GWB included)” to assuage the fearful or due to FEAR on her own part.

    I always seem to be voting against the greater of 2 “evils” (regulars here know I don’t believe in evils – just clichés) I would prefer to vote for a candidate (even though as plnelson is fond of pointing out: MA is a 1 party state and a “nyet” or “da” is mostly symbolic and makes no appreciable difference.)

    If she is the more “liberal” of the major party candidates who are on the ballot, I will vote for her (the Florida debacle in 2000 demonstrated the pitfalls of voting for a 3rd party – even symbolically) but perhaps the primaries will yield a more palatable choice. I don’t blame the voters; can one justly blame a tiger for being a tiger? The responsibility lies with each of us as we choose to align with the mass reality we experience.

    Peace

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    6. THE MATHEMATICIAN, THE PHYSICIST AND THE ENGINEER (AND OTHERS)

    In a world of cans, I always assume an opener.

  • plnelson

    Jazzman says but I digress.

    You sure do! What does this have to do with the topic?

  • jazzman

    pnelson It has nothing to do with the topic of Hillary, it has to do with my experience that engineers in general (I have stumbled on some brilliant renaissance types occasionally) have a narrow focus (which is fine as the nature of the work usually demands it and they also tend to be socially/politically conservative especially the young’uns (darned whippersnappers – rant, rant) as they don’t abstract well and can’t see the forest for the trees.)

    I’m in the extreme minority here with my ultra-liberal positions but as OCP’s link demonstrates, that narrow focus is exploited for humor (clichés and stereotypes become such by observation of the general case) so I took your saw and used it to demonstrate another of my observations about the differences of the older vs. the younger engineer whose lack of a broad focus can be detrimental to a project, and how this scene might be interpreted differently by a more seasoned engineer (a pragmatist might drink the water.)

    I believe you are approximately my age and have probably observed similar situations, or maybe it’s just the few (2 in 26 years) places I’ve worked in an engineering capacity and because I believe in the construct, I ignore the contravening evidence but I digressed as we all do from time to time as we follow our epiphenomenal stream.

    Peace

  • allison said: I believe that when girls and boys are born into this world, girls inherently know that they have one vital role to play for the human species: to carry and birth the future generation.

    peggysue said: I respectfully question this notion. It is well documented that the more acess women have to education the less children they have. When women have options and are not limited to that “one vital role” they choose to do many other things.

    Hi peggysue, the fact that many women reach beyond the “one vital role” they know they can always fall back on doesn’t change the underlying premise that they start off with a more secure sense of self-worth. (I was in no way suggesting that this was the only role for them to play, just the one that only women can play.) Men have to figure it out from scratch. If they decide on something, it could simply be that they had to find SOMETHING to do and this was as good as anything and better than being useless. And it still may not feel meaningful, so they still question their self-worth. The fact that women choose other things doesn’t detract from the reality that they have a stronger baseline of self-worth to begin with. (That it gets ripped apart by insecure men who have greater physical power is an entirely different subject… And

  • But does that mean we should automatically vote for Hillary because she is a woman? NO.

    I agree. I don’t plan on voting for her.

  • plnelson

    Allison says: Hi peggysue, the fact that many women reach beyond the “one vital role” they know they can always fall back on doesn’t change the underlying premise that they start off with a more secure sense of self-worth.

    But it doesn’t support your premise, either!

    You basically threw this idea into the conversation without any supporting evidence. I think you have some obligation to explain how you came to this conclusion. I know PLENTY of strong intelligent, confident women who don’t have kids and have never shown any particular inclination to have them.

    Obviously making babies is a biological imperative to continue the species, so it’s understandable that cultures would tend to reinforce that behavior. But it’s not clear that in today’s modern societies women are under any unique pressure to be defined in terms of that role any more than men are. As I said, I can only speak for the social circles I travel in, which mainly consist of people who don’t speak in grunts and drag their knuckles on the ground. I have no idea what people do in other places.

  • sidewalker: “Allison, what gives? Why the reductionist analysis? Can we really explain the will to dominate and to violence as a response to this insufficiency, this lack of innate power? First we said to be missing ribs and now it gets even worse: we lack purpose.”

    well, of course, it’s a simplification and life experiences, innate temperaments, etc can alter anyone’s choices and perspectives. I certainly intended this to be a provocative notion. I am not suggesting that this a physiological condition. I am suggesting that it can be a psychological condition derived from a perception of the physiological. I, too, believe we can choose not to be violent or to dominate. But to choose this you first have to admit that you are, and often you have to understand why, so that the underlying psychological drive doesn’t override your will.

    Women have been kept down for millenia. Strong women are commonly referred to as intimidating. Why is it all intimidating to men for a woman to be strong? You only feel intimidated if you don’t feel you have the same strength. While there may be some enlightened class of people who have transcended this, it would be disingenuous for anyone here to claim that this is not an overarching theme in human relations.

    I find it particularly interesting that men on this thread are trying to argue that the premise of women in power being treated differently from women is a false premise. Women experience it and this continual denial insures its perpetuation.

    One of you asks me to prove that men fear women with power. There is a claim that women ‘opt’ out of the power elite. When the power structure has been created by men, to serve the natures and preferences of men. For women to break into it, they have to learn the ways of men. When I was in my MBA program, the entire premise of training women to be manager was to have them study the ways of men. So, it is no wonder that women opt out. A female or dual-gendered powered culture might look entirely different. Right now, there is little chance that a woman is going to be able to force the systems that be to accomodate her visions of how powerful roles should be filled and how institutions should function. (we still can’t accommodate family/work integration in this country) It becomes deadening to have to leave so much of yourself behind in order to be in the game. So, stop arguing that women opt out because they don’t want the power. It’s a male, self-fulfilling prophecy. And when women say they are experiencing such and thus, and men turn around and say, ‘no, you’re not” it is the classic dialogue with a narcissistic abuser. (to put it in the harshest terms.) You can see it in the pay scales. Women, in this day and age, are still not paid the same wage for the same job. And the gap is significant. It is irrational that a woman gets a different pay for providing the same service.

    So, there is a fear. I haven’t heard anyone propose anything at all about the source of this fear. Just deniers saying the inequities of treatment don’t exist. That’s a sure way to make certain that we don’t get to the bottom of it. My theory may be wrong, or need refining, but at least its a starting point of a conversation that no one seems to be willing to have. Because, why? We continue to avoid diving in…

  • plnelson

    Women have been kept down for millenia.

    But HUMANS have also been kept down for centuries. By that I mean that for centuries the most common power structure was to have a monarch or dictator running everything and everyone else was expected to put up or shut up.

    But whenever democracy is introduced it’s amazing how quickly people lose their deference to monarchs. People can throw off their shackles a lot faster than you think.

    When the power structure has been created by men, to serve the natures and preferences of men. For women to break into it, they have to learn the ways of men. When I was in my MBA program, the entire premise of training women to be manager was to have them study the ways of men.

    But you haven’t demonstrated that the power structure reflects “male” traits. Maybe the corporate power structure reflects what it takes to be a successful corporation in a world where other corporations are intensely competing with you, customers are clamoring for and demanding new and better products, and technology is changing rapidly.

    I work for a huge multinational corporation. We have development sites in Europe, the US, China, and India, as well as other places. We compete with some of the smartest, most creative companies in the world in many different industrial and consumer products. Flexibility, long hours, and a willingness to travel are useful attributes in that environment. Our customers like what we make, which is why we’re successful, but they also like what our competitors make and will switch at the drop of a hat. N.B. that our customers are both men and women – so THAT’S where the pressure comes from.

    My company employs 10’s of thousands of people providing prosperity and well-being to communities around the world where we have plants and labs, not to mention billions of dollars in tax revenue. All of us want to continue our success, and we enjoy the opportunities to design and create new stuff – it’s stimulating and fun. This is why we work hard and sometimes put in long, strange hours. To suggest that any of the above reflects uniquely male traits requires more evidence than you’ve provided.

  • plnelson, humans may be able to throw off the shackles of a monarchy, but the base dynamic of women being considered inferior to men and women’s way of doing things have never been considered a serious option in society. Are you arguing that women simply don’t want to considered as peers in both their intellect and their service? Are you arguing that our culture is structured with a balance masculine and feminine aspects in it’s halls of power?

    This is a well-studied subject in which I am NOT at all educated. I have my perspective, But the argument that corporations have to be structured the way they are in order to respond to cutomer demand doesn’t make sense. In a male-dominated culture customer sensibility is shaped to serve the needs of the dominant force.

    I don’t have time, right now to get into writing a case study or ‘proving’ my point. I am actually shockec that in this day and age, anyone would still require ‘proof’ that we live in a male-dominated society and that the structures and ethos are not what nurtures the leadership fire of women. It actually dampens it. But if you want to keep believing that I have an unfounded perspective so that you can avoid ever talking about what might need to change or admitting that women have been systematically kept in their place, that’s your prerogative.

    BTW, I believe that your huge multi-national corporation is Microsoft. And, though, Bill Gates has created a magnificent non-profit entity now, his ethical behavior in how he got to where he is is not what I would want modeled. Ends don’t justify means. Certainly, not all he does is bad and there are probably a lot of good things about working for MS, but please don’t offer it up to me as the example of an equitable world. (And do you think you’re the only ones putting in long strange hours? Ever been a mother? A business owner? The fact that both men and women do this at Microsoft is not proof that the all is right in the world. Women have always worked long strange hours. So, what?)

  • Potter

    Dealing with a failing hard drive and relapsed sore hand the conversation does not need me except to say that the conversation on the show and here is extremely interesting and revealing. Shocked at the initial shock this thread began with, I think the Rorschach of this topic is well proven. Some familiar posters here have shown sides of themselves heretofore not so completely exposed or pronounced.

    Allison– thank you. I totally agree with your analysis and the track you are on.

    The Hitt article I would have found very worthwhile very worthwhile just for reminder about the odious McCain quote. But also I believe that the petty or small details (not necessarily “catty”) help reveal who a person is and ( the temperature of) our reaction ( or lack of) to them reveals who we are.

    It’s precisely because Hilary Clinton is the point at which so many unresolved, uncomfortable issues about gender seem to burst out into the open that I think she is not a good choice for President. That said I would vote for her in a heartbeat over McCain. And that might very well happen. Other than that, I am glad she is running even if it’s just for this kind of conversation which should be more broadly welcomed. But as president I fear she would be hopelessly too much of a magnet for hate and resentment ( some of it here on this thread) and we do not need to be divided further than we already are. Witness also the polls ( as per Hitt article) in which so incredibly few have NO opinion about her.

    I agree with whoever noted that she is undeniably extremely bright, but not necessarily wise or courageous. Given the choice, I prefer ( I think we need) the latter in a candidate at this point. Perhaps this is why I can see Nancy Pelosi, by comparison as an example of femininity in a position of power, in the chief executive position much more easily. Pelosi IS more comfortable with herself and her femininity, much less likely, say, to take us to war to prove that she is tough, a compromiser but not via windsock. If this is just a perception, my perception then is at fault. The world suffers from too much testosterone male or female versions of it. I don’t trust Hilary Clinton not to succomb to the need to prove that she has it.

  • plnelson

    BTW, I believe that your huge multi-national corporation is Microsoft.

    Wrongo. Not even close.

    Anyway, I didn’t say that we don’t have a male-dominated society; I said that the institutional structures of corporations are the way they are because that’s what works; not because it’s male-dominated. If big multinational corporations were run by women I do not think they would be significantly different. I’ve had both male and female managers and I’ve never noticed any general difference between them, in terms of either people management style or project/schedule/resource/budget management style.

  • plnelson

    Women have always worked long strange hours. So, what?

    “So what” is that it has been alleged that one reason why there are so few women in big corporations is that such coporations need to have more “family friendly” policies – that the demands of long hours, dinners with clients, and travel, are particularly onerous on women due to domestic and childcare responsibilities. People make these claims with a straight face despite the fact that for every wife there is a husband who is perfectly capable of assuming those same duties.

    My wife travels more than I do in her corporate job (no, she doesn’t work for MSFT, either), and spends more time with customers and in dinner meetings. She’s very successful at what she does and all of our domestic duties are divided fairly and evenly. I’m as good and frequent a cook as she is; I do just as much laundry, shopping, etc. Stereotypes about differences between men and women WRT to capacity for or interest in domestic duties are just plain sexist.

    Above I referenced a NY Times article and an OnPoint show about this which suggested that affluent, educated women, themselves, are responsible for their low level of participation in the power structure, because they choose to participate less fully in these institutions. That doesn’t sound like male oppression to me.

    The argument that females are “different” in some fundamental way that results in political and corporate institutions favoring men is just plain sexist. it’s like the old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon where Calvin and Susie are being taken to the Principal’s office – Calvin is speculating about whether they will be spanked and Susie informs him that they can’t spank her because “girls have more delicate heinies”

    I’ve worked in corporate America for 20 years, including in hiring and interviewing roles, and I have never encountered the SLIGHTEST shred of evidence of any male passing over a women for hiring and promotion on the basis of gender.

    But none of thios has anything to do with Hillary Clinton. Her problems have everything to do with her politics and positions on the issues, and nothing to do with her gender.

  • Tom B

    Interesting that so much of this discussion is about women and their roles… it’s as if Hillary AS WOMAN is the topic. We seem obsessed with 2-variable categories (black/white; woman/man; liberal/conservative; alien/citizen; good/bad; all/none….). It seems very digital, but I’ve always found the shades of grey much more fascinating. It seems that we (Americans? humans?) are consumed with a deep hunger to put people into boxes, and then to assume that all the things in the assigned box are virtual clones of each other. That simply doesn’t seem very empirical to me. Perhaps I need to become more gender conscious, race conscious, etc, etc. to fit into a world rivited by these conceptual constraints? I guess I need to think of Hillary as A WOMAN and obsessively keep this uppermost in my mind, and simply ignore the complexity of this human being, right?

  • plnelson

    Interesting that so much of this discussion is about women and their roles… it’s as if Hillary AS WOMAN is the topic.

    I’ve repeatedly tried to introduce “Hillary-the-duplicitous-politician” here, but I have to keep fighting off claims by Allison, Hitt, and others that her problems are due to her gender and not her politics.

    I still have a challenge on the table that no one has picked up to explain why her co-sponsorship of a flag-burning amendment should not be sufficient for any progressive-minded voter to reject her out of hand!

  • Sutter

    I’ll bite: I care much more about real issues than about symbolic issues. Yes, I agree with you that it was pandering and I also oppose the amendment, but in politics the enemy is the perfect of the good, and if at the end of the day there’s one politician who will take the needs of the underprivileged and just plain unlucky seriously but supports a flag-burning amendment, and a free-speech absolutist who has abhorrent views on bread-and-butter issues (say, Antonin Scalia), I’ll choose the former.

  • Sutter

    (This isn’t to say we shouldn’t demand better than a contest between the lesser of two evils — we should. But when voting time comes, I’ll vote for that second candidate. And the next time, I’ll hope for an alternative, as I am hoping now for a better choice in 2008.)

  • “I agree with whoever noted that she is undeniably extremely bright, but not necessarily wise or courageous. Given the choice, I prefer ( I think we need) the latter in a candidate at this point. Perhaps this is why I can see Nancy Pelosi, by comparison as an example of femininity in a position of power, in the chief executive position much more easily. Pelosi IS more comfortable with herself and her femininity, much less likely, say, to take us to war to prove that she is tough, a compromiser but not via windsock.”

    Potter, I agree.

    PLNelson, I also agree that one reason people don’t like Hillary is her odious politics. This makes her a complex subject for this kind of discussion. Still, people talk about the minutiae of her hair dos, her clothing, etc. And they rail against her for her reported temper, etc. There are plenty of men in politics who have tempers and that doesn’t become a very big topic of discussion. When it’s a woman, it’s a big deal.

    Also, the fact that you and your wife have an equitable relationship is admirable. It doesn’t disprove anything. And you argument that male style is best for corporations is not solid. It’s only best because we have a male-dominated society with a consumer base that’s inculcated in male-dominated expectations. Around and around we go…. I think I’m done here. If we can’t move past the denial, there is nothing to discuss.

  • Pnelson: “So what” is that it has been alleged that one reason why there are so few women in big corporations is that such coporations need to have more “family friendly” policies – that the demands of long hours, dinners with clients, and travel, are particularly onerous on women due to domestic and childcare responsibilities. People make these claims with a straight face despite the fact that for every wife there is a husband who is perfectly capable of assuming those same duties.”

    Ok, now I have to end my part in the discussion because this kind of comment simply pisses me off. The reality is that men DON”T assume those roles. Wifes who work are expected to, for the most part, add the job responsibilities to the parenting ones. Add to that, that in most parts of the country couples need two incomes to get by and you don’t have another person staying at home. (No parent, father or mother, should have to feel stressed about being with their sick child instead of being at work.) Historically, when women were expected to stay home, men had someone that took care of all of this, so work life was structured as though families didn’t exist. That’s unsustainable. We don’t need to perpetuate generations of children who feel abandoned by their corporate parents.

    The problem is that we don’t integrate things. Society is so structured one way now that we can’t even envision, much less actuate, what it would take to make things functional. My books have all been packed for a year and a half, so I don’t have the title (will look for it later) but I have an interesting one on the differences between the way women practice sprituality and the way men do it. Men create churces and define a particular time for spiritual practice. Women incorporate spiritual practices into the mundane. (This is a simplified nutshell, of course.) With a feminine principle structuring society (which men can embody), we wouldn’t have a world where the workplace is so far and so separate from the home life.

    I didn’t read the Times article – I will later – but I’ve seen these studies before. I hope it mentioned that women opt out for two reasons: 1)inequitable pay, 2)inability to integrate work and family life. Women create businesses out of their home, or very near by. My business is close to home and it includes a playroom for my daughter and the children of employees and customers. This was key to creating the ability to devote maximum time to the business without being separated from my child. An additional benefit is that she is growing up seeing what it takes to run a business. At 7, she already has ideas about how she would go about it. Before the Industrial Revolution this is way people worked. A feminine principle would lead us back there. (It would obviously be a long haul from where we are now. I have no expectations that it will happen.)

    Then, there is the male principle of everything being based on a war model – competition. When we will find another way? Not in a male dominated society, where men can’t even admit that women get treated differently, or that the dominance is so sytemically deep that you can’t use examples of how it is as “this works best” models.

  • plnelson, sorry about the Microsoft reference. I must be mixing you up with someone else. My mistake.

  • also, Plnelson, I feel like we should be in a room together to further this conversation. Remembering some of your posts in other topics, I know that we are not that far apart in our perspectives. I am clearly being a little lazy here. Not researching for data that I know exists, etc. But I also feel that there is some key point where we are missing each other, but might not with the richer context of in person communication,

    Or, we may agree to disagree, but probably quite light-heartedly.

    Boston meetup, anyone?

  • plnelson

    Still, people talk about the minutiae of her hair dos, her clothing, etc. And they rail against her for her reported temper, etc. There are plenty of men in politics who have tempers and that doesn’t become a very big topic of discussion. When it’s a woman, it’s a big deal.

    Oh, c’MON! Mitt Romney and John Kerry both regularly get hair jokes! People make all kinds of other jokes about Kerry’s speech style. Jimmy Carter’s teeth. Bill Clinton’s sexual adventures. George Bush’s pronunciation of “nucular”. (and his general IQ). Ahhnie Swartzenegger’s accent, his looks, his groping, his muscles. Al Gore’s wooden personality, And then there was Obama’s bathing suit pictures a few weeks ago. So please give us a break on this.

    As I said above, in a nation of 300 million people, finding a few million extremist neandertals is trivial, but you have NOT that there is any mainstream problem with Senator Clinton based on her gender. I’m telling you: it’s her politics.

  • plnelson

    The reality is that men DON”T assume those roles. Wifes who work are expected to, for the most part, add the job responsibilities to the parenting ones.

    Who CARES what they are “expected” to do? Black people were “expected” to be docile and subservient and munch watermelon and take orders from white people. Good thing for America they didn’t do what was expected.

    The modern feminist movement happened DECADES ago. My wife would laugh her ass off if you told her she was “expected” to have dinner ready for me when I got home, and to do my laundry and have my shirts folded and starched, after giving some presentation to some bigwigs at her company that afternoon.

    Good grief, what century are you living in? Keep in mind that we are not just talking about just any women here. We are talking about highly educated women professionals, and why many of them are opting to NOT become part of the corporate and political power elite that their educations and backgrounds have prepared them for. Those women are not in a position to have to “settle”, nor were they raised to be dutiful rule-followers. My wife’s mother, for example, was a corporate VP. There’s absolutely no reason why any of these women should have to accept getting stuck with more than half of the domestic work.

  • Wow, you just can’t see the reality under which a lot of women live. YOUR wife and YOUR mother-in-law live a certain way, so it must be that way for all women.

    And you can’t accept the deeply rooted effects of emotional tyranny. Fine.

  • plnelson

    Wow, you just can’t see the reality under which a lot of women live.

    As I said above, this discussion isn’t about “a lot of women” – it’s about the educated, professional elites who, we would hope, should become part of the corporate and political power structure. The question is why they aren’t choosing to make such commitments. If you would read the NY Times article I mentioned or listen to the OnPoint interview I linked-to you would get some insights into the problem.

    And you can’t accept the deeply rooted effects of emotional tyranny

    I think you have an obligation to prove to us that the average women attending Wellesley College or Harvard or Yale is living in a state of emotional tyranny.

  • plnelson

    Hey Brendan – How do we turn off these !@#$% italics? I already tried inserting a left-angle-bracket, slash lowercase ‘i’, right angle-bracket, with no apparent effect.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    hmmm…curious

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    the utm is a harsh mistress…

  • Pingback: My Gender Identity Is In Order at Transadvocate Blog()

  • Potter

    plnelson- I read that NYTimes article before, read it again with the same reaction. I applaud the trend. To my reading it does not make ( my understanding of) your point. Judgments should not be made ( if they have to be made) without considering that others are coming from a very different baseline…culture, emotional make-up, abilities, inclinations, experience intelligence and training aside. You and your wife make certain choices compromises and arrangements, sacrifices that you have finessed, that you say work, and yet seem to wonder why everyone else is not able or willing to make such arrangements.

    Regarding life in the workplace ( or even at home “doing chores” depending on your preference)-I am reminded of a Gary Larson cartoon with which I identify: two cows in a field munching and one looks up and says to the other ” Hey this is GRASS we are eating! GRASS!”

    Depending on one’s view: It’s not necessary to substitute one form of “subservience” for another: “chores” and confinements of the workplace for “chores” and confinements at home, or vice versa. It all has to do with how one feels about what one is doing. Some would rather be home doing carpentry ( or making pots) even with a degree.

    In this century it should be self-evident that a professionally trained and educated person ( male or female) is NOT obliged to spend their life a certain way just because they were so trained or educated or b/c of being highly intelligent.

    Many women (and some men) who do not absolutely HAVE to work, or go to work ( the commute,the office politics, life in the cubicle) have decided, or were able to make a deal with their spouses ( perhaps their employers too), to arrange their lives differently so that they can take care of their children, create a home-life, and perhaps work at home or close to home, or live on one income or a lesser income. The difference between today and previous centuries is cultural attitudes, more choice, and societal acceptance of these choices.

    One can opt for the old arrangement (without prejudice I would hope)) or create a new one and at any time only in some cases. Evolution is slow at all levels regardless of intelligence or education. Sometimes the one you love turns out to be a Neanderthal and uncompromising about it.

    “Those women are not in a position to have to “settle”, nor were they raised to be dutiful rule-followers. My wife’s mother, for example, was a corporate VP. There’s absolutely no reason why any of these women should have to accept getting stuck with more than half of the domestic work.”

    Nor is there any reason any woman should have to carry the burdens of corporate office, office politics, the commute, an artificial atmosphere.

    Men and women can still be rule followers, in any situation because of emotional make-up, education notwithstanding.

    So one must free oneself of the new shackles of the mandates of this new century as one frees oneself of those which are self-imposed and those dragged forward from the past.

    Who is eating the grass? I’ll decide for myself.

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    From Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America

    “Scientifically and philosophically Locke’s pluralism is … Modernity is the condition a society reaches when life is no longer conceived as cyclical. In a premodern society, where the purpose of life is understood to be the reproduction of the customs and practices of the group, and where people are expected to follow the life path their parents followed, the ends of life are given at the beginning of life. People know what their life’s task is, and they know when it has been completed. In modern societies, the reproduction of custom is no longer understood to be one of the chief purposes of existence, and the ends of life are not thought to be given; they are thought to be discovered or created. Individuals are not expected to follow the life path of their parents, and the future of the society is not thought to be dictated entirely by its past. Modern societies do not simply repeat and extend themselves; they change in unforeseeable directions, and the individual’s contribution to these changes is unspecifiable in advance. To devote oneself to the business of preserving and reproducing the culture of one’s group is to risk one of the most terrible fates in modern societies, obsolescence. It was not a question, for Locke, of approving or disapproving of modernity. It was a question of coping with it.”

    Hopefully I’m not breaking any fair use rules with this. Please remove if it does.

  • plnelson

    It’s not necessary to substitute one form of “subservience” for another: “chores” and confinements of the workplace for “chores” and confinements at home, or vice versa. It all has to do with how one feels about what one is doing. Some would rather be home doing carpentry ( or making pots) even with a degree.

    No kidding. But you’re missing my point by a mile.

    I’m not saying that I think they have any obligation to become political or corporate leaders.

    What I’m saying is that the question that was placed on the table, above, is why our political and corporate institutions are male dominated. It was allegd by Allison and others that this is because women are emotionally tyrannized into subservience, or that the corporate culture is so instrinsically “male”, whatever that means, that it drives women away.

    My points can be summarized as follows:

    1. We have a whole generation of strong, confident, intelligent, post-feminist women (such as the ones in the Times article). This generation is perfectly capable – if they wanted to – to join the power elite. But, as you point out, they CHOOSE not to. They are not tyrannized or lobotomized or brainwashed not to. They just don’t WANT to live like that. It’s their choice. You don’t even get into Yale without intensity and drive and self-possession. They are making a free choice.

    2. The prevailing corporate culture of hard work, long hours, intense pressure, travel, etc, is what it takes to succeed and satisfy customers. It has nothing to do with maleness. New management styles are ALWAYS being experimented with, new fads come and go, absolutely EVERYTHING has been tried, many times. So if there was some other more “feminine” less “male” (whatever any of that means) way of running a large modern corporation that could produce better results in a competitive industry it would have been discovered and everybody would be using it.

    The pressure to compete and succeed comes from customers and stockholders. And there is nothing overwhelmingly male about them. (in fact one study I saw said that the majority of individual stockholders are women, although it was suggested that is is because women live longer so their husbands die and leave them their portfolios. Who knows?) . Customers of both genders like novelty, product improvements, “coolness” and lower prices. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking about cellphones, clothing fashions, TV shows, cars, or laptop computers. If you don’t give them what they want they buy someone else’s products. THAT’S where the pressure comes from, not some macho, testosterone-drenched competitive instinct in male-dominated corporations.

  • rc21

    I think that pretty much clarifies things. I am largly in agreement.

  • jazzman

    plnelson says: It’s pointless to say “if everybody was as fanatically committed as me” it would change the world, because “everybody is NOT as fanatically committed” and never will be. So all I’m asking for is a little honesty here – go green for your own emotional satisfaction (which, as I said above, is what I do) , and don’t try to sell us the idea that you are making any appreciable impact on the global problem… I hope your neighbors are motivated by more practical considerations, like lower heating bills.

    Yes – if it were then it would be but as it isn’t it ain’t.

    Despite plnelson’s contention there’s no evidence individuals’ Lilliputian efforts make a difference, individuals’ ideas, dreams and even their fanaticism (for any of which there is no scientific basis) have inspired the actions that do make a difference individually or en masse.

    Just because something can’t be measured by some physical metric doesn’t mean that there is no effect. If one changes oneself then the universe changes as it is only ones’ mental construct. Why is it more practical to concern oneself with being efficient with one’s symbolic energy equivalent (the fiat vouchers that we have agreed to use for convenience – in actuality agreements represented by 0’s and 1’s encoded in digital media) than the actual energy itself? (In many cases concern with efficiency can be a form of OCD). Exactly how many pennies does it take to be rich?

    Here’s another digression: Yesterday my wife and I witnessed the birth of our 1st grandchild. My daughter delivered a healthy 8 lb. baby girl who I’m sure will help to create a more peaceful and equitable future for ALL entities!!! I offer no evidence to support my belief that my granddaughter will make a difference other than thru DNA potential, osmotic observation and exposure to an Absolute Morality based philosophy coupled with the historical evidence of how my other children’s realities were enformed by similar exposure, I’m optimistic (per my wont) for her and our (humankind) prognosis.

    Even if (as it seems) adaptation proves to be the only long run solution, change is universal and inertia (by definition) resists it. Consciousness manifests infinitely by intention and cannot be created or destroyed so ultimately any putative problem is moot and there is never a reason to FEAR anything except oneself – the root of ALL FEAR.

    Peace to ALL (NO FEAR),

    Jazzman

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    Jazzman: “Yesterday my wife and I witnessed the birth of our 1st grandchild. My daughter delivered a healthy 8 lb. baby girl who I’m sure will help to create a more peaceful and equitable future for ALL entities!!!”

    I will accept that as a virtual cigar. Congratulations Grandpa!

  • jazzman

    I tried to post the above in the GW oceans thread but it seems to be closed? Is this intentional? This box doesn’t appear on that page. Brendan?

  • jazzman

    OCP – can you get into the GW oceans thread? Thanks for the grats, I offer you a NUT in lieu of Fidel’s Finest.

  • Allison, I don’t disagree with your general argument that gender is significant. As an example, the other night on The Daily Show, Stewart was running down the list of Democrat contenders and pretenders and he saved his crudest humour for HRC, making sexually charged comments and gestures. He has done this previously for Condoleezza Rice. This humour “works” because it plays to the generally base predilections of the male audience. Instead of going after HRC’s policy statements or her public actions, he made her gender the focus.

    That this gender bias in almost all societies occurs should not be at question. The cause of it is much harder to isolate, as I suggested in an earlier post. No doubt there are a number of psychological and socio-economic factors. These may including your suggestion, birthing envy, but I am still not convinced. Rather, I think that oppression of women is part of the cascading chain of domination in the micro-politics of daily life. Structurally, physically and emotionally dominated men turn around and do the same to those weaker than them in some way–women, children, pets being the easiest targets. It is a reaction to self-loathing or insufficiency, as you mention, but one that more commonly stems from their weakness to oppose those who (or who they feel) oppress them.

  • Sutter

    Congratulations, Jazzman!

  • nother

    Alright, a new little jazzgirl in our midst, congrats.

    btw, Roy Haynes is in town tomorrow night! I think you said you used to see him at Wally’s.

    The man (a legend) has played with everyone, including Bird.

  • jazzman, what will be the first jazz album you’ll introduce her to? As a grandfather, A Love Supreme?

    Congratulations!

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    “OCP – can you get into the GW oceans thread? Thanks for the grats, I offer you a NUT in lieu of Fidel’s Finest.”

    Thanks Jazzman. Sorry I fumbled your request, real world duties called. I see you left your comment on the thread…all’s well…

  • nother

    sidewalker, howabout “Birth of the Cool!”

  • Nice suggestion, nother. 🙂

  • plnelson

    the other night on The Daily Show, Stewart was running down the list of Democrat contenders and pretenders and he saved his crudest humour for HRC, making sexually charged comments and gestures.

    Like people DON’T do this for other politicians? Hillary’s treatment by political humor wags WRT to sex doesn’t come CLOSE to the jokes leveled at her husband, for example.

    Political humorists go after whatever will get a reaction and the sensitivity of Hillary Clinton’s supporters on this issue (as we can see illustrated her by you and Allison) is WHY Jon Stewart makes those jokes! I can’t believe you don’t grasp this basic fact of American political humor!

    Politics in America is hardball. Whether it’s Swift Boat Veterans, or questioning whether the CiC can actually read a book, or attacks on Edmund Muskie’s wife that caused the famous crying incident which ended his campaign, politics takes no prisoners. Hillary Clinton knew that when she became a politician.

    I’ve noticed that no one here has provided a single shed of evidence to contest my points that women if they wanted to could participate more fully in the power structure. The educated, professionally trained women who are graduating from our elite colleges are choosing lives that do not have the pressures and stresses required to rise to the top. Also that the nature of the power structure – its pressures and demands and competition – are the result of modern life and demands of consumers and voters – half of whom are women – and not because someone’s been secretly spraying testosterone around Washington and in corporate meeting rooms.

  • Potter

    Plnelson- Regarding your number one: It is still only part of a whole generation, that is so free to choose and only somewhat without prejudice ( as evidenced in the article). I think you deny the societal pressures that have existed and still exist ( transmitted) short of lobotomy and brainwash. The fact that there appears to be a noticeable movement ( and articles and programs about it) speaks of the phenomenon it is-a wave but not the norm. These choices are not universally available.

    You could say ( and have said if I am not mistaken) people always have “free choice” if you discount what works against that in terms of the price of a particular choice over another.

    Regarding your number two: I can’t speak for Allison but I think she was saying that “the prevailing culture of hard work, long hours, intense pressure, travel, etc” and so much else btw- has a lot ( if not everything) to do with maleness. The set-up is male. The business world is masculine or male dominated (emphasizing competition above cooperation, environmental destruction/over-consumption/ waste and moves leading to fast profit above nurturing/conserving ). After thousands of years, women have learned to exist inside of a male world, cooperating with it, often threatened and subdued ( physically, emotionally) by it, sometimes acting courageously in defiance. Sometimes they are able to exert a little feminine pressure, here and a little there, to soften things. We have no idea what a female dominated world would be like. It’s preposterous to say that absolutely everything has been tried.

    Congratulations Grandjazzpa and grandma!

  • Potter

    I posted my above w/o reading yours plnelson. I think you prove my point…

    pln: I’ve noticed that no one here has provided a single shed of evidence to contest my points that women if they wanted to could participate more fully in the power structure. The educated, professionally trained women who are graduating from our elite colleges are choosing lives that do not have the pressures and stresses required to rise to the top

    The choice is to play in a man’s world or to create an alternative ( Allison is an example). This is not so easy.

    Also that the nature of the power structure – its pressures and demands and competition – are the result of modern life and demands of consumers and voters – half of whom are women – and not because someone’s been secretly spraying testosterone around Washington and in corporate meeting rooms.

    Largely..very largely male dominated, male created with women largely operating within it. Women have been demanding child care, health care, work hours and maternity leave, equal pay etc within that world and it’s been a long very hard battle.

    Muskie btw was shamed for crying— a feminine quality. Women are allowed to cry, they are perceived weaker after all. Men are not supposed to cry. Emotions= sign of weakness. That has change somewhat, not entirely.

    Compare apples and apples-it’s not the fact that people in public life are the butt of jokes. What is the nature of the jokes?

  • Potter’s last point is the post above was what I was suggesting and what you missed plnelson. Of course in the US political figures are fair game. But why are the kind of jokes different? Stewart’s joking about Rice, for example, made her out to be a cheap slut. Fair enough, he is angry about her politics and disregard for public’s wishes and he wanted to put her down. I have no problem with that. I have no problem with his retorts to her statements before congress. But then he played the sex card, making her womanhood the issue. The only time I’ve notice him do something similar with men was with Mark Foley.

    As humour, if it works one could argue that’s fine, but that is not the point. There is a difference in how people who accept normative conditions react to anyone who threatens the status quo.

    BTW, I am not a HRC fan for political reasons, especially her stance on Iraq, though I would like to see a woman or someone from a minority group take the top job there just to shake things up.

  • plnelson

    Regarding your number two: I can’t speak for Allison but I think she was saying that “the prevailing culture of hard work, long hours, intense pressure, travel, etc” and so much else btw- has a lot ( if not everything) to do with maleness. The set-up is male. The business world is masculine or male dominated (emphasizing competition above cooperation, environmental destruction/over-consumption/ waste and moves leading to fast profit above nurturing/conserving )

    You SAY that, but you haven’t demonstrated that it’s true. You’ve already told us that you work outside the corporate ratrace. But I have worked WITHIN big corporations for about 30 years, so I think I know what I’m talking about.

    “Maleness” has nothing to do with why corporations are the way they are. Pressure from customers is where it’s at. I already made that point. Male AND female customers want novelty, improved products, the latest styles, “coolness” and low prices. If we don’t provide those things the customers will buy from our competitors and we’ll be out of business.

    Women have been demanding child care, health care, work hours and maternity leave, equal pay etc within that world and it’s been a long very hard battle.

    But actually “women” have not demanded those things, only a few women on the political left have. Women as a group have not shown a great deal of political organization or voting activity to achieve those things. If health care/insurance was such an intrinsically women’s issue then why did it take a conservative, Republican male governor here in Massachusetts to finally push through something resembling universal health insurance?

  • plnelson

    Of course in the US political figures are fair game. But why are the kind of jokes different?

    I already answered that question. They are ‘different’ because of YOU. Well, you and Allison and Potter, etc. In other words Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, et al, go after whatever will get a reaction. They figure out where it hurts and then they poke at that spot some more. They can COUNT on Hillary Clinton’s supporters to go apoplectic on certain things so they go after that. Anything having to do with race, sex, or religion works really well. Don’t forget that jokes about Hillary’s husband, involving both verbs and anatomical nouns represented a virtual “Political Humorist Full Employment Act” during the latter years of BC’s administration. Really, you should go to a performance of the Capitol Steps I saw them a few months ago and they were STILL doing Bill Clinton jokes!!

  • plnelson

    In other words Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, et al, go after whatever will get a reaction

    I just want to expand on this. I just LOVE the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. I don’t actually watch TV – I see these on videos over the internet that I get for free from (mumble . . mumble . . . ). But if I ever get a TV it will be for those two shows.

    And here’s the thing that some people don’t get: when most of us laugh at their George Bush or Hillary Clinton, etc, jokes and sendups, we are not just laughing at George and Hillary. We are taking pleasure at the discomfort of their SUPPORTERS. When Stephen Colbert make his infamous remarks last year at the White House Press Corps dinner what made it so funny and cringe-worthy and controversial was that he said all these things in front of a roomful of George Bush supporters, including his wife!

    Hillary Clinton has a titanium hide and these comments bounce right off. George Bush doesn’t even GET the jokes. So they don’t feel any pain. But their supporters get the jokes and it pisses them off and THAT’s why the jokes work.

  • OliverCranglesParrot
  • tbrucia

    —- Interesting quote in the header: “This distrust, even hatred, fear of [INSERT WORD] in the polity — either as citizens or as part of the government — goes all the way back to [INSERT WORD B], and it’s been a large part of our Western political thought.” —- Now let’s have some fun! Is the missing FIRST word (a) Arabs, (b) Negroes, (c) Catholics, (d) Mexicans, (e) Gays, or (f) none of the above. Is the missing SECOND word (a) Martin Luther, (b) Strom Thurmond, (c) Oliver Cromwell, (d) Zachary Taylor, (e) Paul of Tarsus, or (f) none of the above. And now the latest incarnation: fill in the words ‘women’ and ‘Aristotle’. So much of what seems perceptive is very, very lame. Humans will always find some other group to distrust, hate and fear, and it goes back into pre-history…. It’s simply the depressing way humans relate, and it doesn’t have much to do with anything except finding random targets upon which to focus these emotions… If there weren’t a Hillary, there would be a Jacob or an Ahmed or a Xavier or a Jesús or a Kanica or a Rock…..

  • jazzman

    nother wrote: Roy Haynes is in town tomorrow night! I think you said you used to see him at Wally’s…The man (a legend) has played with everyone, including Bird.

    Roy is one of my all time favorites. I was at his 80th birthday party at Sculler’s in 2005 (there seems to be some controversy as to his age but he said he was born in 1925) and he didn’t look a day over 60. I once had the good fortune to sit in with him and Scott Hamilton at Gilmore’s Western Front in Cambridge, right in your neighborhood if I’m not mistaken. We played Ornithology – the study of Bird. I’ll be at Sculler’s this Thursday night for the John Stetch trio, 1st show 8 PM as they likely cancelled the 2nd show due to poor ticket sales.

    sidewalker wrote: jazzman, what will be the first jazz album you’ll introduce her to? As a grandfather, A Love Supreme?

    That would be an excellent choice, and I’m sure I will present it in due time, however I think for her 1st it would be Miles’ classic rendition of Wayne Shorter’s Nefertiti as she is my little Queen although she is mostly of Greek heritage and not Egyptian.

    Again to ALL the congratulators regarding my granddaughter, my heartfelt thanks.

    Peace,

    Jazzman and Jazzgirl

  • Bobz

    As a New Yorker, I have to ask the simple question: what has Hilliary accomplished for New York or the country??

  • As Hillary prepares to seek the nation’s highest office – an office she once had not one but two offices next door to – we’re asking: does Hillary tell us more about what we still expect of our wives and mothers than what we expect of our leaders? Is how much we love and hate her really that much different from the kind of intense love and loathing we feel for other public figures, like say, her husband?

    I’ll add my own .02 cents – late as it is. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The woman arouses no passion in me, for or against. She’s just a politician.

    That said – and while it’s early days – it feels like she’s going to be the Democrat nominee. Which might not be the best thing for the Democratic party. She’s a term and half senator with no prior experience in office, except as the wife of the governor of Arkansas and as the wife of the President. This might indeed give her experience in politics but it’s a darned odd path to power.

    Have there been any men elected to the office of President whose only political experience has been a term in the Senate?

  • babu

    I still think that the subtle effect of women’s images used everywhere as soft porn has not been acknowledged in the conversation about Hillary or other smart ambitious females.

    The emotional burden and personal affect masquerades as many other things, but it’s there, in her and us.

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  • plnelson

    except as the wife of the governor of Arkansas and as the wife of the President. This might indeed give her experience in politics but it’s a darned odd path to power.

    Not in places like South America and South Asia. It’s interesting that that’s who the US seems to be taking after these days. And anyone who doubts we are adopting an “imperial presidency” should consider what this will look like in the history books: Bush I, Clinton I, Bush II, Clinton II . . .

  • plnelson

    I still think that the subtle effect of women’s images used everywhere as soft porn has not been acknowledged in the conversation about Hillary or other smart ambitious females.

    The emotional burden and personal affect masquerades as many other things, but it’s there, in her and us.

    You’ve repeated this before without providing the least shred of evidence that it has any affect whatsoever on womens’ opportunities and chances for promotion and political power.

  • Not in places like South America and South Asia. It’s interesting that that’s who the US seems to be taking after these days. And anyone who doubts we are adopting an “imperial presidency” should consider what this will look like in the history books: Bush I, Clinton I, Bush II, Clinton II . . .

    It has not escaped my notice that we’ve been governed by the same two political cliques since 1988. A good reason (smile) for a ‘Anybody but Bush AND Clinton’ movement for ’08.

  • jazzman

    nother/OCP I saw John Stetch’s trio at Sculler’s last night. There were perhaps less than 20 guests in the audience but they played as if there were a thousand. Steve Schwartz from WGBH’s Jazz from Studio Four recorded the set so selections probably will be aired during his or Eric Jackson’s show sometime soon.

    It was transcendent to partake such inspired jazz in the most intimate of settings (where else can you sit so close to the piano you could play a duet with the keyboardist if you reached forward? It was as if he were entertaining in your living room for a few friends.) I was overwhelmed by intense emotional waves and the sense that it doesn’t get any better than being a grandfather and being part of that musical experience. To hell with politics, as long as there is jazz and generations, I’m ecstatic.

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