Fernanda Diaz at Glamour magazine’s political blog, Glamocracy, writes that Clinton’s “unfeminine” ways have ruined things for the next generation of female politicians.
I resent the fact that Hillary is now inescapably a symbol of women in power, and that women for years to come will be compared to her. I have a problem with this because I’m used to a new kind of woman leader, one who doesn’t have to try so hard to fit in with the boys and prove that she can be aggressive and ruthless just to be taken seriously. By acting in such a decidedly un-feminine manner, Clinton has actually made it harder for us who had already felt accepted as leaders without resorting to those measuresâ€”now, it will be harder for women in my generation who don’t act like her to be taken seriously.
Full disclosure: Diaz emailed me the post and suggested Feministing write about it. When I told her that I strongly disagreed with her analysis, she was very open to discussion so I’m going to do my best to leave the snark at the door. That said…ugh.
Since when is aggressiveness and leadership “unfeminine”? By framing characteristics that are normally attributed to leaders – like being aggressive or powerful – as masculine, we’re playing into the false notion that men are “natural” leaders. And what’s ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ anyway? Essentializing gender traits doesn’t do any one any favors.
It’s comments like these, that Clinton is “acting like a man” or is “unfeminine,” that allow for the sexist attacks that are so often lobbed her way. But I get the feeling that Diaz isn’t being deliberately sexist in her opinion as much as she’s being a tad naive:
I have grown up with female bosses, editors, teachers and family members who exhibit great, traditionally feminine qualities: kindness, compassion, and accessibility, and their authority has never been compromised because of it. They’ve been amazing, and never faced sexist attitudes.
So if we act in a “traditionally feminine” manner, we’ll never face sexism? Powerful women, no matter what their leadership style, are targets for sexism. From further emails with Diaz, I gather she believes that in order for women to be in power they have to act “like men.” Again, problematic because of the essentializing, but Diaz’s thoughts also preclude the idea that there is a spectrum of leadership styles and characteristics – there’s no nuance in her argument. Can’t one be aggressive and compassionate? Kind and steadfast? I’m curious as to what folks think…