Slate teaser: "Is Hillary Clinton a Manly Girl or a Scary Girl?"

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On November 1, the Slate.com homepage teased a blog entry on public perceptions of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as follows: "Is Hillary Clinton a Manly Girl or a Scary Girl?" However, in the October 30 entry, posted on Slate's blog The XX Factor, literary editor Meghan O'Rourke criticized the prospect of presidential election coverage that is "full of talk about manly girls." She cited a recent Associated Press/Ipsos poll in which 37 percent of respondents said that of seven Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, "a costume made to look like" Clinton "would be scariest." O'Rourke also cited a recent Pew Research Center poll that found that 67 percent of respondents consider Clinton "tough." She went on to write:

In a segment entitled, "Is it OK for women to cry" -- pegged to Ellen DeGeneres' on-air breakdown -- the Today Show broadcast images of Clinton giving a speech and shaking hands and confidently pronounced that many people think "that she is too stoic, that she doesn't reveal enough of herself" -- on its way to elaborating on the communicative benefits of crying in public. If media coverage of the last election was filled with accusations about girlie-men, will this one be full of talk about manly-girls? Let's hope not.

As Media Matters for America noted, a March 21 article by Slate editor Jacob Weisberg questioning whether serial killers and presidential candidates are "really so easy to tell apart" was teased on Slate's homepage and on washingtonpost.com as "Why Obama Is Like a Serial Killer." The teaser was accompanied by a picture of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), even though he was just one of several candidates highlighted by Weisberg.

The October 30 post on Slate.com's blog The XX Factor, in its entirety:

If we need any reminder that it's not easy to be the first popular female candidate for the American presidency, it arrived Monday in the form of an announcement by the AP that Hillary Clinton was leading in yet another poll. This one? The candidate likely to make the "scariest" Halloween costume. Some 37% of the respondents to the survey chose Hillary as their front-runner. (Giuliani was second, with 14%. More key details here.)

The fright-mask news arrives roughly a month after it was announced that Clinton had led in a Pew poll asking respondents about the relative "toughness" of the various candidates: In it, some 67% of Democratic-leaning voters said that Hillary was the first candidate who came to mind when they heard the word "tough." By comparison, only 39% of Republican-leaning voters thought of Giuliani when they heard the word "tough." (Yet he was considered the "toughest" Republican candidate.) All this might seem to be good news for Clinton: after all, over the past year, she has labored hard to burnish her "tough" persona, so as to stave off the perception that a woman -- and a Democrat, to boot! -- would prove soft on matters of foreign policy. It'd be easy to think that it had finally paid off.

But I've been wondering all this time whether a "tough" backlash was on its way (maybe just because I've been reading Susan Faludi's flawed but sometimes piercingly insightful The Terror Dream). And just last Friday a crucial American institution paved the way for said backlash. In a segment entitled, "Is it OK for women to cry" -- pegged to Ellen DeGeneres' on-air breakdown -- the Today Show broadcast images of Clinton giving a speech and shaking hands and confidently pronounced that many people think "that she is too stoic, that she doesn't reveal enough of herself" -- on its way to elaborating on the communicative benefits of crying in public. If media coverage of the last election was filled with accusations about girlie-men, will this one be full of talk about manly-girls? Let's hope not. In the meantime, here's an article that briefly discusses the latter group (scroll down); apparently we see them as "pretenders." Sound like a familiar critique of Clinton?

Network/Outlet
The Washington Post, Slate Magazine
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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