Glamocracy Blogger: Hillary has ruined it for future female politicians by being “unfeminine”

glamocracy.jpgFernanda 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 measures—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…

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70 Comments

  1. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely I believe with your analysis that there are complexities to leadership styles, and it’s not good to essentialize them as “male” or “female”. (Actually, we’ve watched some videos in Anthro class this semester and it’s struck me a bit how /agressively/ many women in indigneous cultures present themselves, compared to white western culture)
    Anyway, I think I’m a compassionate bleeding heart liberal and I can also be very aggressive or intimidating at times (like my mom), when I need to be or when I think it would help.
    Anyway, GO Jessica!

  2. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Also, while I agree that female leaders who act in “traditional feminine” ways (well, traditional for western culture, at any rate) do experience some sexism, I do think they sometimes experience a /different sort/ of sexism. They may be belittled, not taken seriously, or made fun of, but I think attacks are often more aggressive on women who break traditional gender roles. Thoughts?

  3. Jessica
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Oh, absolutely – women who trangress traditional gender roles are definitely attacked on a whole other scale. But that doesn’t mean we should stop transgressing!

  4. ACreamBalldi
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I just get sick of women hating on other women. As women we should have the right to act as we chose to whether that breaks traditional gender roles or not. We should respect other women for the choices they make. When Diaz runs for president she can act however she chooses.
    Also, I’d like to point out that Diaz’s field is primarily female dominated, so while it may be easier for her to act more feminine at work, that decision might not suit every woman as well.

  5. ACreamBalldi
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I just get sick of women hating on other women. As women we should have the right to act as we chose to whether that breaks traditional gender roles or not. We should respect other women for the choices they make. When Diaz runs for president she can act however she chooses.
    Also, I’d like to point out that Diaz’s field is primarily female dominated, so while it may be easier for her to act more feminine at work, that decision might not suit every woman as well.

  6. Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Gender roles have become an increasing interest of mine, and the ideas of “traditional” masculinity vs. femininity have begun to bother me greatly.
    I think Jessica said it well when she said, “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.”
    Ideas along the lines of a masculine/feminine dichotomy are the sorts of ideas that I have seen used to personally attack people, and often, they just don’t apply fully to individuals (like Hillary Clinton).
    I don’t think Clinton has ruined anything for potential leaders. I think strict m/f dichotomies do that just fine.

  7. Jessica
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Clinton’s problem is simple: both allies and opponents extrapolate her personality and politics onto ALL women in the political sphere.
    Clinton may be associated with masculine or feminine attributes-this is inconsequential.
    She is screwed by not being everything to everyone all the time. This makes her a failure as a woman.
    This burden is not just on Clinton; it’s on all of us.

  8. Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    With you, Jessica, esp. on this: “Can’t one be aggressive and compassionate? Kind and steadfast?”
    Ms. Diaz demonstrates why the attitude “it’s unpleasant but it happens” must not be reinforced as the threshold we have for allowing sexism to exist.
    It’s as though she was breastfed and inoculated against recognizing sexism whereever it exists.
    Very very frightening to me, in my mid-40s with a middle-school aged-dau.

  9. Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    “I don’t think Clinton has ruined anything for potential leaders. I think strict m/f dichotomies do that just fine.”
    Well said.

  10. VT Idealist
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I was talking politics with a male friend. He stated that one of the reasons he dislikes Clinton is for the saber-rattling statements she has made about Iran. His thought is that as a women, Clinton needs to constantly prove that she isn’t afraid to use force and that this is troubling as a foreign relations policy.
    And I have to agree that he is right. The siuation in American politics today is that women are still perceived as weaker leaders who don’t have the figuarative balls to handle difficult conflicts.
    Do I think this perception of women is accurate? Of course not. But it is there and it is a reality for any woman in a high power position in this country. I also think that the pressure placed on women is porportional to their position someone with a higher ranking position (like POTUS) is going to have more pressure put on their feminine weakness than a women in lower ranking position (say, a state representative).
    And even aside from that, waht, exactly, do women in power need to do to act ‘feminine’? Traditional definitions of feminine and masculine say that she shouldn’t be in that position to begin with, so what makes one women feminine and another not?
    Or more to the point, what has Hillary Clinton done, specifically, that is so un-feminine?
    Is it the pant suits (good lord, I hate comments about Clinton’s suits). Would it make her detractors feel better if Clinton showed up on the stump wearing designer gowns?
    Is it because she’s not trotting out the family for phot ops? (Actually, her campaign might have gone better if Bill would just stop talking).
    Seriously, what is so un-feminine about Hillary Clinton?

  11. wandergrrl
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Leadership style is something I think about a lot. I’m a director in the theatre and as a leader of artistic projects I am constantly negotiating the balance between being demanding and nurturing. I don’t have a particularly aggressive personality. I tend to be warm and easy-going and I engage my actors in a collaborative type of process. I often reflect if some of that is influenced by being raised female in this society. But much of it comes down to simple personality. I think my way of leading can be just as effective (at least, artistically, my shows are just as good as those directed by some of the traditional tyrants), but I often feel like I have to win over people’s trust in my ability to lead.
    AND – I have also known female directors who just happen to be tough and aggressive (or learned to be so?). I envy them their ability to quickly gain command of the room, and yet, I don’t want to change to be like them. It just wouldn’t be truthful to who I am.

  12. Jessica
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Just a note, that second comment by “Jessica” isn’t me. Jessica 2, would you mind having another screen-name? :)

  13. Marteani
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    This reminded me of this article on the BBC news:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7375230.stm
    It contrasts the different attitudes on female politicians in Spain and Italy. It was sparked when the Italian prime minister called Spain’s cabinet “too pink,” as in too full of woman. A rather telling illustration of his opinion of a woman’s place in politics.
    Italy has 4 female members in parliament, all better known for their looks than their policies. Whereas Spain’s has more women than men.

  14. Amanda Leigh
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Seriously, what is so un-feminine about Hillary Clinton?
    I was wondering the SAME thing. I don’t see her as un-feminine at all. And I agree that Bill should have kept his mouth shut.
    Just for giggles (’cause yelling at him won’t do any good). My stepfather informed me he would not be voting for Obama because he has “Hussiene” (however it’s spelled) in his name. I laughed, uproarous laughter for about a minute straight. Then I told him he shouldn’t vote this year.

  15. H-Nasty
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    What “Male” qualities Clinton is accused of forcing on future female politicians?
    Diaz is making a very broad statement, so it’s hard to agree with her. Is it the pantsuit that’s making Clinton unfeminine?
    The aggressiveness? You can’t expect a politician to get anywhere without some aggression. A passive politician?!?!

  16. LittlePunk
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    The responses that Clinton has received underlines the paradoxical values that women are supposed to embrace. When she acts “manly” (in quotes because I don’t think being tough and straightforward are essentially male qualities) she’s criticized, when she acts “feminine” (i.e being emotional, coz you know, only girls ever get emotional) she’s chastised. So which is it? It’s just like how women are supposed to both be “pure” and “innocent” and at the same time “sexy” and “beautiful.” Sorry society, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  17. Bucky
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I can’t find a way to address this stuff with appropriate objectivity, so I will just point two things that have me utterly baffled:
    What exactly is her definition of feminine and
    Someone acutally commented to her original post: “there’s no reason to get uppity”. Seriously? Uppity? Did the poster dig that out of her father’s sock drawer?
    Ugh.

  18. nata_was
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I really have a problem with this article: I understand that Diaz is chastizing other women for being “unfeminine”, why since when is feminity a requirement for success anymore? First of all, its complete disregard for the factual requirements of a woman running for president from her culture to have both the sexual appeal and the power, in order to both attract but also pose a real threat to the myriad of crowds that are watching and judging her. Power is a big question in an electoral campaign usually assigned the machoest of men, to men that can be described by the media as having the most guns, being the go-getters the saviours, the man in arms that can save the American land. A woman is never a hero, she’s never portrayed as being capable of action, but in a culture that puts forward only an image of the female as being worthy of only being looked at, as an innert object, only to be admired and seen, the “unfeminine” critique is always problematic.
    What the culture constructs as feminine is problematic because its rendering women clad in ways that makes them incapable of action adn only of being worthy of just looked at. People just have a problem believing that women who look good are capable of doing anything, and yet requires women without any freedom to adhere to these feminine standards. so its a culture that forces women to be inactive. A political leader wont be believed, due to widespread stereotypes if she’s only “feminine.”
    A woman running for president *cant* challenge the ideology that poses men as powerful and natural leaders and women having to be attractive. She is a symbol of threat to the system. That’s why she has to show great respect to its traditional ideology by negotiating for herself a place between the requirement of power for a leader, and requirement of feminine for a woman. I dont think Diaz sees this at all, but only sees, through the lens of a fashion editor the fact that she’s not enrobbed in the best of fashions and nicest makeup, wearing Manolos and talking about diets. But can a really powerful woman who is busy as hell, really have time for these things at all, and why are these requirements not put on men? Its still describing men as having better things to do than put on makeup and take care of their appearance but women are FORCED to do both and are STILL regarded as being incompetent.

  19. Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I notice people forgetting “Assertive” a lot.
    Remember, in school, when they told us that being passive was bad, and so was being aggressive, but being kind, willing to compromise and talk, but firm in your convictions was known as being “assertive” and that was good?
    Men are aggressive, women are passive… BLAGH! No. We can all be thoughtful and proactive.
    It’s not “either/or.”

  20. Unicron_The_Vagina
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    “Essentializing gender traits doesn’t do any one any favors.”
    THIS a thousand times.
    Focusing on the degree to which Hillary’s (or anyone’s) behavior conforms to established norms for their gender is irrelevant and harmful on so many levels. IMO, the very existence of the concepts of masculinity and femininity is a blight on our psyches, because every time the word goes through your head it reinforces, on some level, the notion that certain traits “should” be exhibited by members of the gender which corresponds to the word, which in turn subtlety implies that deviation from this template is somehow inherently bad.

  21. Shinobi
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I actually share some of Fernanda’s concerns about Hillary Clinton, but for an entirely different reason. (Let me just say, I am not a supporter of Hillary, and I am not expressing my dislike of her in order to engage in wanton bashing, I am trying to make a point about what I perceive as potential harm she may be doing.)
    I am concerned mostly because I disagree with a lot of the tactics that her campaign has used. I think she has engaged in a lot of political pandering, and has changed stances on several issues when it was advantageous to her. Her campaign also has not been overly competent, they seemed occasionally unclear of the rules (texas), they have not paid many of their vendor’s and have had obvious fund raising problems.
    I realize that these issues I have are unique to Hillary’s campaign and that any given woman would run a different campaign and I would not hold any of what, I perceive as Clinton’s flaws, against future candidates. The media may not be able to make this distinction.
    My concern is that the perceived flaws of this campaign will be projected on any future campaign by a woman. I am concerned that we will be hearing about this campaign and how it drug on, and was divisive and nasty every time a woman runs for president in the future. We all know how the media likes to hang on to this stuff. It will come up even when the comparison may not be valid (two extremely popular candidates running a very close race).
    My hope is that this race ends soon and in a peaceful manner, not just for the Democratic party, but for all women who come after Sen. Clinton. (Also, if Obama loses in November and the loss is attributed to blows from Clinton’s hand this could also come back to haunt female candidates. Not because it is a valid way to make decisions but because the media, and misogynists are stupid.)

  22. UltraMagnus
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Did it ever occur to any of these people that “masculine” may just be how Hillary truly is? The concepts of feminine/masculine, and what constitutes both are social constructs. Some women are soft and caring and all that sugar and spice stuff, some women just AREN’T. Just because Diaz had teachers and mentors who were soft and cuddly doesn’t mean that’s how every woman should act because for a lot of them, myself included, it would be going against our nature.
    Perhaps Hillary Clinton is at her best when she’s aggressive and competitive, did that ever occur to Diaz? And lets get off this bullshit trip that what ONE woman does goes for all of us. I know good and well that when you are the first of your kind to do anything then you will be judged more harshly and that will probably lead to others being judged but we know that now, we know how that works and we know it needs to stop so lets talk about how to stop it instead of having women turn on each other.

  23. SaraRose
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    It’s really sad that we as women can be our own worst enemies. I think Hillary makes an even better leader if she shows she doesn’t care too much about appearing the way society wants her to because she’s a woman. Isn’t taking the road that takes courage what leadership is all about? She is under the microscope so much more than her male counterparts, and everything she does is seen as either too masculine (being aggressive)or too feminine (crying). But just genderizing these emotions, as Jessica said, is perpetuating sexism.

  24. spirina
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I have a sneaking suspicion that I would be labeled “unfeminine” by Diaz if I were to run for President. While I do exhibit many traditionally “feminine” traits (dresses, earrings, crying a lot being nurturing- hell, I’m working as a nanny this summer), when it comes to politics, I speak my mind, I’m forceful, and I’m not exactly warm and fuzzy. In many ways, I think it wouldn’t matter if Hillary wore dresses and baked cookies for her campaign workers- she would still be viewed as “masculine” because she is outspoken, knows what she wants, and no one’s going to get in her way. And these characteristics, in my humble opinion, have nothing to do with her being a woman acting like a man, and everything to do with her being true to herself.

  25. geeky_girl
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    “you’re right. it’s definitely not either or, and I should have been more clear. but I’m talking about “traditional” gender roles, and the way that women are pressured to act less like women in order to be accepted as leaders”
    So is she saying that Sen. Clinton makes it harder for women who aren’t cut out for leadership to be leaders…? I don’t think anyone with lots of ‘traditional feminine qualities’ and no aggression, straightforwardness, stubborness, self focus (vs. focusing on others all the time), etc, would ever even make it to senator.
    *scratches head*
    People who feel guilty doing things for themselves and their careers (even if their career blossoming is for the greater good!), people who aren’t aggressive enough to accomplish what needs to be done, people with weak handshakes, people who can’t look me in the eye and tell me I’m right or wrong… people who would rather nurture me than lead me…
    I am not interested in people like that for president.

  26. rileystclair
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    jessica is right.
    clinton, like all women in leadership positions, is in some respect damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t. i do think clinton has had to overcompensate for having a vagina by being extra tough with regard to national security, but i don’t blame her for it so much as i blame the system that requires it in order to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate.
    the danger of acting more “feminine” is that you aren’t taken seriously and that your leadership isn’t respected. the danger of acting more “masculine” is that you get called a bitch or accused of not being feminine enough. there’s no way out of this until we stop with the double standard and arbitrarily assigning traits to one gender or the other.

  27. Ismone
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I am completely with wandergrrl. Although all leadership styles should be respected, hers (wandergrrls) happens to be more collaborative and low-key and mine (in leader-follower situations) happens to be more aggressive and masculine. What should matter is that both of us get our jobs done well, and as wandergrrl points out, both styles have advantages and disadvantages. Particularly in the political realm, I think it would be harder to get elected if you are low-key (particularly if you are a woman and have to prove your toughness) so I think it is really disingenuous to criticize Hilary for being assertive.
    I really don’t buy the critiques of her campaign, particularly in light of Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain’s campaigns. I mean, one of Obama’s advisors called Clinton a bitch, and then resigned, the “women’s issues” portion of his website was both buried and contentless when my younger sister went looking for it a few months back, and McCain has been caught calling his wife the c-word on CAMERA, plus he sang “bomb Iran” to the tune of “Barbara Ann” and has displayed ridiculous amounts of ignorance on certain issues. I don’t think his campaign is all that united, and I think, given the effort, we could all point to similar defects in their campaign strategies as in Hillary’s. I think it is an excuse. Probably not a conscious one, but an excuse nevertheless.
    And if you think I’m criticizing you unfairly, please compare and contrast the other campaigns with Clinton’s, and demonstrate that you have equal knowledge of their workings.

  28. norbizness
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    I thought that the word “political” had gotten a 300-yard restraining order against Glamour Magazine.

  29. Unicron_The_Vagina
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, Shinobi. Prove your feminist orthodoxy this instant!
    *rolls eyes*

  30. Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I agree Jessica that that kind of essentializing is unhelpful, and it seems Hillary gets criticized for every performance of gender she does for either being too feminine or too masculine. I think she’s doing her best to be herself and get elected, and I don’t think I’d do any differently in her position (although I think she got some bad advice in this campaign).
    I also appreciate the position expressed by Ismone and wandergrrl: there are some leadership styles that are traditionally characterized as feminine that might perform really well in public. But I don’t think we can fault Hillary Clinton for not using them. Hasn’t she broken enough ground for one person?

  31. Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    also, I am bothered by the implication that Clinton doesn’t exhibit “kindness, compassion, and accessibility”. I’ve never met her, but I never thought her un-compassionate…

  32. Thomas
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Riley, I liked this: clinton, like all women in leadership positions, is in some respect damned if she does and damned if she doesn’t.
    I think it’s fundamental to understand that this is how sexism works. There is no “right” way for a woman to do something women have been excluded from. She’ll either be too masculine or too feminine (or to quote the film Fight Club, “Too old!” “Too fat!” “Too fucking blond!”). The result is always the same; the reasoning tailored to justify it.

  33. Allytude
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of this organizaiton called “Bully Broads” that teach women executives to “tone it down”
    http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/625/

  34. brad
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    While I think Diaz has missed the mark here I do think Senator Clinton can be faulted for what appears to me to be cow-towing to sexism and attempting compensate for simply being a woman.
    Before I go further let me disclose that I am a male Obama supporter and fairly new to thinking critically about feminism (also new to this site.)
    A previous commentor mentioned Clinton’s saber-rattling about Iran. This is an example of what I mean. I sincerely hope that she doesn’t actually want to invade Iran, but it seems like she feels a need to prove that she is willing to “get tough.” To the extent that she feels that need because of sexism and responds to that sexism I think she is wrong. (I am, of course, assuming a lot in that statement.)
    Another example might be how Rodham has disappeared from Hillary Clinton’s name since she left the White House and began to pursue her own Senatorial/Canditatorial career. Why did we know her as Hillary Rodham Clinton before and now it’s just Hillary Clinton? Again, I hesitate to assign a motive to her actions, but it seems (at least to this feminism noob) to be an attempt to tone down her female (feminist?) identity.
    It seems that Senator Clinton has at times responded to sexist pressures by bending to them.
    That said, of course Hillary Clinton has done more good than harm for politically ambitious women in the future.

  35. LogrusZed
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Q: “And what’s ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ anyway?
    A: Masculine is black coffee, feminine is anything with more than one flavor, whipped cream, or put into a blender with ice.
    /I’m somewhere in the middle.

  36. Ron O
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m a man who really values his “traditionally feminine qualities: kindness, compassion, and accessibility” (OK I’m a bit curmudgeonly, so maybe not this one so much). So this essentialism bothers me a lot too.
    I do not respond very well to leaders with very aggressive styles. I tend to think of them as assholes (rightly of wrongly), tune them out as best as I can and find a new job/request a transfer.
    Cola’s definition of being assertive is spot on. I respond well to that, and when I am in a leadership position, I try to hold people accountable without being an asshole about it.

  37. roro80
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Ron O — I would agree. When we assign gender to specific qualities like agression and kindness, we get articles saying that Clinton ruined women’s chances for being “traditionally feminine” leaders; she’s neither allowed to be a good leader, nor a good woman. We also get the flip side: if a man does not display the “masculine” qualities and displays some of the “feminine” qualities, not only might that man be seen as lacking in leadership qualities, but also as as lacking in what it takes to be a man.

  38. Posted May 22, 2008 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I hate articles like that one in Glamour, because I’m strong and aggressive and I guess I wear “man shoes” to work, but I don’t think of myself as unfeminine or trying to be like a man. I just think of myself as being myself. And I’m a woman, so by default then, aren’t I feminine?
    And when I exhibit my own personal qualities of leadership, strength, toughness, competitiveness, I don’t want to be told that I’m “being like a man.” No I’m not! This is who I am and always have been. This is woman.
    I hate feeling confused when someone lists “female” leadership qualities and says “nurturing” and “compassionate.” BLECH.
    I mean, good for you if you *are* those things, but I’m not and that doesn’t make me not feminine.
    I’m just me. And me is what womanhood is to me. Why can’t we all be individuals?

  39. Rachel
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I think that as long as Clinton is being herself, whether she may exhibit traditionally “feminine” or “masculine” characteristics, people should lay off. I don’t think that Clinton deliberately portrays herself as more feminine or masculine in order to win votes; I think she’s being herself for the most part.

  40. Rachel
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I think that as long as Clinton is being herself, whether she may exhibit traditionally “feminine” or “masculine” characteristics, people should lay off. I don’t think that Clinton deliberately portrays herself as more feminine or masculine in order to win votes; I think she’s being herself for the most part.

  41. Peepers
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Jessica asked, Since when is aggressiveness and leadership “unfeminine”?
    At least since 1989. That’s when the Supreme Court heard the famous Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins discrimination case. Several psychologists submitted an amicus curiae brief stating that the demand on female professionals to be stereotypically “feminine” and simultaneously fulfill stereotypically “masculine” job-based demands creates a double bind for women, in which they cannot be perceived favorably regardless of how they behave. I would love to link a great article about that, but it is copyright protected.
    In a nutshell, calling out a female leader for being “unfeminine” is discriminatory. I’m sure Diaz meant well.

  42. heller
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    My ultra-conservative mother (who also cited Obama’s middle name as a reason not to vote for him, but she was NOT joking) says that she won’t vote for Clinton because she doesn’t like her politics, and she thinks that both of the Clintons are liars. She also said that she was glad that Clinton’s campaign had gone so well, because it created a precedent for a woman running a very successful campaign, and maybe next time it would be a woman that she liked. So, I doubt that women’s chances have been hurt by Clinton’s example.

  43. AP
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t want to add to much of a twist to things, and I also don’t want to be accused of ageism, but I sometimes get frustrated when younger women attack older professional women for being “aggressive” or fitting other stereotypically masculine traits. In all of my various mentoring programs (generally geared towards women in law and politics), the concensus among women Hillary’s age is that when they entered the work force, the only way to suceed was to act “like one of the boys.” Any sign of weakness, the worst of course being tears, meant professional death. Hillary was the first woman attorney at an all male firm in Arkansas, I am guessing that any sign of compassion would have been the end for her. It is great that we have now made tremendous strides and in some careers can show compassion, be nurturing, etc. without being viewed as weak. But to me it is messed up to then criticize older women for not showing traits that they were unable to while they were paving the way for the rest of us.
    I am very lucky, I have an awesome female boss and if I wanted to, though I have not, I could cry in front of her and recover professionally. Based on what she has told me about her experience rising through the ranks as a lobbyist though, she would not be my boss if she had done that even once.

  44. Virago
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    This is disgusting. Women are told they have to “act like a man to get by in a man’s world”, but the minute we do, we’re told that we’re “unfeminine”. We can’t win no matter what. If Clinton even acted
    in a stereotypical feminine way, she would never have ran for president at all. I do what feels right, and I don’t care if it’s feminine or not.

  45. Ismone
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Unicron, I am not asking for feminist orthodoxy, restating my point with a bit more clarity, what I mean is that a lot of times women and minorities are scrutinized more thoroughly then white males. I do it to. So when I am thinking that a particular woman is ‘difficult’ I stop and compare her actions to those of men I’ve worked with in similar situations, and make sure that I’m not giving her a harder time (even just in my head) because I have different expectations based on her femininity. People talk about her campaign being ‘mismanaged’ more than they did John Kerry’s, and let me tell you, the heart of THAT campaign was pretty much ‘at least I’m not bush.’ And sure, we all figured that out, and the pundits spake, but that was only after he lost the election. Here, I think Clinton is being unfairly held to a higher standard, and so if I think someone who I respect is doing that, I will call them on it and explain my position, which I did.

  46. nascardaughter
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    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.
    I have to say that I find this extremely, extremely unlikely.
    Did this writer actually ask all of those “female bosses, editors, teachers and family members” if their authority had ever been compromised, or if they had ever faced sexist attitudes?
    I’m gonna guess no.
    I mean, very unlikely things do occasionally happen, I guess.
    It’s an interesting question to ask one’s elder female role models though. I imagine that if, say, all the commenters here did that, very few would return with the answer “Why no, none of them ever encountered any sexist attitudes!”

  47. sebadoh999
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    This is B.S.
    There are so many qualified elected Democrats that are female – we are going to see 2, 3, possibly 4 female candidates next time there is a presidential election. It is time we faced reality – women compose 58% of the Democratic party, and they will be running things very soon.

  48. Nancy in NYC
    Posted May 22, 2008 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Fernanda writes: “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.”
    Wow, Mars sounds great.

  49. Posted May 23, 2008 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    So yeah, I just finished your book (the new one, which is awesome by the way) and this is reminding me of the part about female bosses and how it’s “bitchy” and unfeminine to be in power. Arrrrrrgh.
    I don’t see what’s “unfeminine” about Clinton anyway. Because she wears conservative pantsuits? She’s older and not “glamorous”? She’s incredibly smart, strong, level-headed and well-spoken? She’s breaking ground and making history? She makes people think and re-evaluate how they feel about women in power? She took a position that is normally seen as powerless (First Lady) and at least TRIED to do something with it? She took her missteps and failures in that position and is now using them as a learning experience?
    Hm. Guess I’m pretty unfeminine myself then. You know, since I think, work hard, know what I want and go after it, speak my mind and care about the world around me.
    Never mind that femininity is basically defined as “womanliness.” I guess having a vagina isn’t enough. I guess I’ll tell mine to go back to sleep, she’s not needed here.

  50. Any*Mouse
    Posted May 23, 2008 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    If I was running for President I don’t think I’d wear dresses either. One good wind or the sun behind you on the day you forgot to wear a slip and then next thing you know your knickers are the top story on CNN.
    Plus, as a woman of a certain age, if I had thick ankles I would wear pants too. (and I am not saying this to be mean or catty, but anytime Sen. Clinton does show her ankles there have been rude comments about them.)
    In the end she will never be able to make everyone happy, never be “man” or “woman” enough for some folks.

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