13 thoughts on “Misogyny: Still Not OK

  1. Good lord – I come from the idea that a woman can dress however SHE likes. Whether you want to dress in baggy jeans and doc martins or a mini skirt, express yourself.

  2. Okay, that’s HuffPo’s third strike for me. They’re out of my RSS.

    Thanks for pointing this out. I definitely didn’t notice it.

  3. Yep, it shouldn’t be news that in every U.S. presidential election, the potential first wives are portrayed as uberfeminine dingbats and/or inadequately feminine witches/bitches, but it still bears pointing out. Sexism sucks.

  4. O dear. Here’s where I may get in trouble. Coming from a red state where “big hair” has a complex semiotic, to me her change from clean lines and chic to big hair does seem significant. Also, given the enormous amount of trouble it takes, it’s hardly accidental. In at least one picture, it looks like there was lots of backcombing and hair spray, for goodness sakes. Finally, of the various sorts of big hair, hers, along with the clothes, seems pretty clearly coded for class. Big hair can go with Dallas diamonds, and that’s not what’s happening here at all.

    Perhaps this is just how she looks down home on the ranch, but that seems so unlikely.

    So I am wondering if there’s another way to read the piece. Perhaps it’s something of an imitation of the gossipy meanness that can go on in just the sort of beauty palor that produces the big hair look of that class. (Well, the Hollywood version, with Julia Roberts and such.)

    That doesn’t make it less meanly done, but if Hillary had done some some striking recoding of class, then I’d think it appropriate to have some focus on her clothes, something which I’ve otherwise criticized a lot.

  5. I was in fact thinking of “Steel Magnolias,” much of which takes place in Truvy’s beauty Palor. Turns out it has not just Julia Roberts with big hair, but also Dolly Parton, who’s mentioned in the Huffington piece.

  6. I’m with Alice. The whole idea that we are concerned about this is incredibly superficial. Cindy McCain does (and has done) a lot of good work, and that’s all there is to it.

  7. JJ, I suppose I can imagine the possibility of an interesting story about a deliberate decision to send out different class signifiers, one which doesn’t show contempt for McCain on the basis of her appearance. But that would be a different story from the one in the HuffPo. And yeah, it could be some sort of elaborate parody. But I’ve got far more confidence that the New Yorker cover was a parody, and I’ve still got a problem with it. Also, it would be pretty damned classist, it seems to me.

  8. I don’t know that it is showing contempt for McCain on the basis of her appearance. If it shows contempt, then it is on the basis of her change in her appearance. I’m sure that assessing Hillary’s debate performance in terms of her clothes is pretty bad, but this looks like a case in which someone has changed her clothes, hair and makeup to convey a class-dependent political goal of her husband. That’s different. Change your style to express class-based political sympathies that may not be too genuine and a critique of that seems to me in order.

    Of course, I think contempt is wrong here, in part because I think McCain may have let her advisers make some decisions which she hasn’t effectively monitored. That’s got to be extremely common and not a reason for contempt. And actually contempt may be always wrong.

    The writer says, ominiously, “I can’t help but notice a little problem emerging, and like the good girlfriend I am…” Would her adopting the tone of beauty palors be classist in some bad way? I think the issue is really complicated and her citing of Tammy Faye and Dolly Parton make it unclear exactly what’s going on. I am inclined to think her labelling them “venerable ladies” is sincere, but that might be projection on my part. Nonetheless, both have been involved in hyper-feminizing their appearance AND at least one in a very big national deception (Tammy Faye). Dolly Parton’s discussions of herself are full of the fun she gets by playing with class and gender signifiers, while she is completely clear about her class-identification. So I don’t know if that makes playing at being that class permissible or still objectionable. But on reading that article, I think it is playing at being a good girl friend, but one that may be too overtly nasty to be an imitation of DP at her most critical.

  9. Let me just explain the place of the reminder of Tammy Faye’s involvement in the big scandal. I think deception is a big theme in the article, coupled with “hairspray and mascara.” Thus the reference to the rodeo queen. The rodeo queen is part of a masquerade and someone who takes the various players as representing their real values and lives is making a very risky inference.

  10. Interesting that interpretations can be so different. I’m not from rodeo country (though I am from fly-over country and therefore “real America”, as they say), and for me all the Tammy Faye and rodeo queen references really just suggest up class-based contempt, and the very strong assumption that women with big hair and mascara are stupid. And I’m sorry, all that analysis of her cleavage? Just not OK. It’s not the same problem as with a political like Clinton or Jacqui Smith– they have policies and views that should be getting discussed instead. I’m not entirely sure what (if anything) should be discussed about candidates’ spouses, but cleavage?? I don’t think so. Though I do see your point that there could be interesting analysis done of a change in look. It’s just hard to do it without simply being shallow. (I’m thinking here not just of discussions of female politicians, but all the crap about Al Gore and earthtones, etc.)

  11. Perhaps we’ll need to agree to disagree. I do see the paradigm discussed as thoroughly embedded in class, but I see the class icons mentioned as also thoroughly absorbed in a culture that is becoming more and more tolerant of difference in some respects. Things like the fact that our Bill’s mum (Clinton’s late mother) was of the same class start to change discourse. And classist contempt isn’t exactly popular nationally any more. So I see the fact that the theme of deception was woven in as overriding the interpretation that she’s just telling McCain she’s looking cheap or declasse or some such.

    There’s one comment about McCain’s cleavage, and I think that if it weren’t part of this possibly deceptive transformation, it shouldn’t be mentioned.

  12. OMG, you mean an actual woman has cleavage? Jeepers!!! I never knew, I thought we were supposed to cover ourselves head to toe in a sheet and never be seen. What a petty article. Same sexist tactics used on Sen. Clinton.

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