Friday, July 20, 2007

The Breasts of Hillary Clinton

I know this blog post is going to get a few accidental perverts, but it wasn’t until I looked at the cover of the Washington Post’s Style section today that I realized Hillary Clinton has breasts. I mean, not only does she have them, but they are obscene. Truly. Look at that picture. They’re all hanging out there. It’s practically the J. Lo dress. What kind of woman allows her breasts to be out in public? Clearly not the kind of woman we need to take seriously.

What, you think I’m just making this up? Well how else to take the Washington Post’s fashion writer Robin Givhan’s oh-so-demeaning take on Hillary chest.

There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton. She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

It’s almost like Hillary is some kind of…woman? What is she doing with those breasts of hers! (I don't know...talking about education or something...I wasn't paying attention).
The cleavage, however, is an exceptional kind of flourish. After all, it's not a matter of what she's wearing but rather what's being revealed. It's tempting to say that the cleavage stirs the same kind of discomfort that might be churned up after spotting Rudy Giuliani with his shirt unbuttoned just a smidge too far. No one wants to see that. But really, it was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!
So a v-neck shirt is just like an embarrassing faux pas? That’s good to know Robin.

This new emerging meme on Mrs. Clinton’s breasts isn’t just Robin’s idea however. It’s the beginning of pack journalism. I realized that when I saw on Feministing this story by Susan Donaldson James at ABC News, on the exact same subject but dated a few weeks ago. Next the New York Times will do a piece. Or some conservative columnists will write a whole “witty” column about “Hillary’s sexiness.” And once again somehow Mrs. Clinton didn’t satisfy the 250 million conflicting opinions about how she should dress, speak and behave in public.

Robin is just one more reporter jumping into the herd mentality that if one media outlet has an angle then, by golly! the Post will push that angle too.
“But if people are talking about Mrs. Clinton and fashion…why shouldn’t we cover it?” the editors will whine if criticized.

What “people” are talking? No it’s bus mentality. One person writes a story and then everyone writes a story. Someone was bored writing about Iraq and make a crack about Hillary’s neckline which inspired a story. The fact that, at the moment, its women reporters doing it, makes me realize that women covering politics doesn’t exactly guarantee that the coverage isn’t misogynist.
To display cleavage in a setting that does not involve cocktails and hors d'oeuvres is a provocation. It requires that a woman be utterly at ease in her skin, coolly confident about her appearance, unflinching about her sense of style. Any hint of ambivalence makes everyone uncomfortable. And in matters of style, Clinton is as noncommittal as ever.
In other words to have breasts you must have balls of steels. That’s not even a joke.

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