Friday Feminist Fuck Yeah: Hillary Clinton

Aided by the Texts From Hillary tumblr–and pushed over the edge when the Secretary herself submitted a text–Hillary Clinton’s image has taken a turn for the cool lately. But as Amanda Marcotte notes at The Prospect, Clinton’s image as a “badass boss lady” isn’t really new–it’s what her fans have always seen and loved in her. But, Amanda argues, it’s an image that was tempered as she sought older voters in the 2008 primary–and one that might be easier to maintain when she’s the Secretary of State and not a presidential hopeful:

Of course, the fact that Clinton isn’t competing openly with a male politician makes it that much easier for fans, either long-standing or newly minted, to project their fantasies of cool-headed female power onto her. One thing Dowd get right is that Clinton has more “permission” to be beloved when she’s subordinate to a man. If she stepped back out and competed directly with a man for power, would the image of calm-and-cool Hillary be replaced with tedious stereotypes about shrill, grasping women? Or are we finally closing in on the day when women can have power fantasies equal to men’s, with mediating them first through some formal subordination?

Either way, let’s take a minute to appreciate how cool HRC has always been–even way back in 1975.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • Sam Lindsay-Levine

    Do you think anyone’s opinion about Sec. Clinton has actually changed? I think if her public image has changed, it’s because the black-helicopter-conspiracy-theory-plus-obnoxious-sexism crowd is just not thinking & talking about her as much because they have a new big target to form tedious & inaccurate stereotypes about, and so her fans are the only people still left shaping opinions.

  • Emily Sanford

    What I’ve never liked about Maureen Dowd is the way she focuses so much on style and image like the leader of a high school clique.

    In 2008, Obama – both Obamas, in fact – certainly earned a lot of praise for their innovative, hip approach to campaigning (from the “Yes We Can” video to the wise use of Facebook). I don’t remember Clinton trying to appearing more grandmotherly or rural, but rather her arguing that cool and approachable didn’t matter and it was her technocrat skills that should be valued over Obama’s people skills. Because we are a nation that VERY much cares about charisma, appearance, oratory and people skills, this cost her many different kinds of votes.

    In Germany, where I live, Obama was and continues to be very popular, but many people (both my friends and elderly people on the street) told me they were wary of the way he could inspire a crowd with a great speech. “Too easily swayed by charm.” And I think it’s no coincidence that Chancellor Merkel is everything but charismatic. Her husband stays completely out of the limelight and she smiles so rarely, you know it’s genuine when she does. Her policies aside, I really admire her flouting any value placed on image in politics. And I suspect Clinton would do far better in a country like Germany where people would take the Texts from Hillary to be a cute joke but nothing more.

    And isn’t that how it should be? Sure that photo of Hillary is vintage and really cool, but it’s making the same argument as the Palin supporters who like their candidate because they relate to her being a hockey mom or beauty pageant winner or a hunter or anti-intellectual.

  • Robert

    Hillary Clinton should have been president. She is more aware of how things operate at that level than Obama and is way more respected from her enemies on the right, plus she already had connections at that level. I guarantee she would not have as much trouble having bills passed. When these two were battling for the nomination this nation was ready for a black president and I believe if Obama had been a white man Hillary Clinton would have easily won the nomination. This is such a shame because she will probably never run again, by the time the next election comes around after this one she will be in her late 60’s. I know Reagan did it in his 70’s but that was an exception to the rule.

  • Lizadonnelly

    I think there is some truth to the notion that because Hillary is subordinate to a man, she is acceptable. But I don’t think that’s the whole reason, of course. I wrote about this, and how cool she has always been, on on Friday:

  • emily

    I think part of the reason so many people like Hillary Clinton is because of the fact that she doesn’t compete directly with men. Unfortunately I feel that some people would definitely view her as shrill if she were to compete directly with a man for power. It’s dumb though because men are certainly not viewed as shrill if they are striving for power.