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Puzzled visitor

ajosephs Icon Posted by Ammu Joseph

July 20th, 2007

I’ve been in New York over the last couple of weeks and have therefore been following US election coverage rather more than I would back home in India. Here are a few thoughts on some of the gender-related coverage I’ve seen this week.

If Robin Givhan, who wrote the piece on Hillary Clinton’s cleavage in The Washington Post today, was startled “to see that small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity peeking out of the conservative — aesthetically speaking — environment of Congress” I was even more startled that the topic was covered at all (albeit under fashion).

I am also puzzled about the way Esquire chose to highlight its coverage of John Edwards’ candidacy: “Can a white man still be elected president?” Strangely but happily, that somewhat provocative, backlash-ish question has little to do with the two articles in the magazine.

In fact, one of them (“The Beauty Contest” by Charles P. Pierce) critiques the political/media “discourse” about Edwards’ hair and forcefully argues that “toughness is a semiotic dumb show now” that “courage and manliness had gone completely postmodern.” As a visitor I found the analysis interesting and enlightening.

The report in The New York Times today about the latest NYT/CBS News poll and what it reveals about Hillary Clinton’s current acceptability is interesting although, from the outside, it’s still quite amazing that a candidate’s sex is still an issue for quite a few US citizens, including women. Nevertheless it’s good to see the differences of opinion among various categories of women and reassuring to gather that many of the reasons cited for opinions held by both women and men seem to be based on their reading of her politics rather than the fact that she is female.

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