The Irresistible Gravitational Pull of Cleavage: Hillary Clinton Edition

Okay, let me say up front that our media sucks:

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.

Undeniable! Hillary Clinton has breasts! Alert the media! Oh, wait, ’twas the media that alerted us.

Now, I’ve already stated that I’m in favor of cleavage, but I also firmly believe that it need not be something we obsess over.  But there in the pages of the Washington Post are hundreds of words about things like this:

It was startling to see that small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity peeking out of the conservative — aesthetically speaking — environment of Congress. After all, it wasn’t until the early ’90s that women were even allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor. It was even more surprising to note that it was coming from Clinton, someone who has been so publicly ambivalent about style, image and the burdens of both.

And this:

By the time Clinton launched her first campaign for the Senate, she had found a desexualized uniform: a black pantsuit. Not a fitted, provocative suit, but merely an understated, flattering one. Clothes were off the table. End of discussion.

But as she has embarked on her campaign for president, she has given up the uniform. In its place has been a wide array of suits and jackets, in everything from dull khaki to canary yellow and sofa florals. Once again, she is playing the fashion field.

And this:

Not so long ago, Jacqui Smith the new British home secretary, spoke before the House of Commons showing far more cleavage than Clinton. If Clinton’s was a teasing display, then Smith’s was a full-fledged come-on. But somehow it wasn’t as unnerving. Perhaps that’s because Smith’s cleavage seemed to be presented so forthrightly. Smith’s fitted jacket and her dramatic necklace combined to draw the eye directly to her bosom. There they were . . . all part of a bold, confident style package.

And this:

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.

Oy.

You know what?  It’s 2007, and women have had breasts for…just a sec, let me count…carry the one…approximately 200,000 years.  And that’s just H. sapiens; our fore-bearers had breasts long before we were even modern man. 

Can we please, please, please accept that fact? 

And while we’re at it, can we stop pretending that the sight of a breast is somehow a defining signal about a woman?  Women have breasts.  Even the ones hiding them away still have them.  Maybe we could discuss, I don’t know, Clinton’s policy positions regarding withdrawal from Iraq, or her stance on health care.  But that would be boring, I know.

30 Comments

Filed under 10_jeff_fecke

30 responses to “The Irresistible Gravitational Pull of Cleavage: Hillary Clinton Edition

  1. NameChanged

    boobies…heh heh

    how fucking juvenile can we get? clevage just is. it is not to be “deconstructed” in this matter.

    ugh.

  2. nightshift66

    THAT qualifies as a shot of cleavage these days??? Oh, for the golden days of Jayne Mansfield and Raquel Welch…

    [ducks and scurries away using serpentine pattern to safe bunker]

    OK, kidding aside… wha??? They fixated on that??? Like Jeff, I’m ‘quite fond’ of cleavage. OK, ‘worship’ is a little too strong a word, but only a little. And I wouldn’t have given a second’s thought to that outfit. Wouldn’t have registered.

    Of course, the fact that the media is mentioning it at all is the point. And you are correct, her policy positions are material to her candidacy, not her breasts. But the media will chase their ratings, and as long as it works, they’ll keep putting the same stuff out there.

  3. Wow, I get that Hott4Hill girl now.

  4. It was even more surprising to note that it was coming from Clinton, someone who has been so publicly ambivalent about style, image and the burdens of both.

    So… are they mad an ugly old lady is trying to dress up and pretend she’s pretty? Seriously, if they think a pantsuit means HRC didn’t care about nor was aware of her image, then the author has a far more specific definition of “image” and “style” than I do. Could I get a drawing to help me understand?

    In any case, the general feeling seems to be shock and awe that a woman is wearing clothing in public. Good to know our media is populated by freaking Ferengis.

  5. Natasha F. (but not Fatale)

    I’m confused. By indicating that Hillary is ambivalent about her cleavage showing, is the writer indicating that there are only two states of cleavage? So we either have the option of covering them up (where did I put my Elizabethan neck ruffle, dammit?) or letting it all hang out (where did I put my pasties with the tassels, dammit?)?

    And where’s the in-depth analysis of whether the male candidates are wearing tighter pants and who is displaying the bigger package – after all size is what matters, right? To borrow from my idol Joss Whedon, grr-argh.

  6. I loathe saying anything in defense of the WaPo, but the article is part of the fashion beat.

    As to the article itself, I found this alone interesting…

    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.

    …because Teh Cleavage is increasingly to be seen these days in non-hors d’oeuvres environments. If more women are indeed at ease with themselves in this way, society in general and men in particular are required to catch up, and we haven’t just yet.

  7. It’s basically the same stuff the media did with Gore, except with boobies instead of earth tones.

  8. Oh, for cat’s sake.

    And am I the only one who finds it bizarre that the media gets so worked up by the fashion choices of women in positions of power, when those choices are so bland, so safe, so frequently _un_fashionable?

    It’s like there’s this automatic template installed on the computers of all reporters now – if subject = female, insert discussion of dress and appearance.

    They’ve been doing this for over 100 years! GAH!

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  10. Don’t you know? Everything we do with our breasts is on purpose and it’s a deliberate action if we allow any tiny bit of them to show. They are weapons of provocation that you must be powerless before!

  11. Brynn

    This is the MSM undermining a woman’s chance at the presidency. With a smile, putting her back in her place. Ensuring her chances to win are slowly but surely torpedoed.

    Why else would they publish such trite, disrespectful rubbish? What does it really do other than remind readers that Clinton is female, and therefore unfit to lead?

    And what a nice touch that they commissioned a black woman to do the dirty work! (Remember the previous post, on why do women embrace the patriarchy?) It helps protect that WaPo from charges of sexism or partisanship. “Hey, it’s only the Fashion section! And look, it was written by a (black) woman!”

    Don’t get me wrong, I despise Clinton and am not sure if I could hold my nose and vote for her if I had to.

    But my criticisms have to do with policy and political actions she has taken or not taken. Not the fact she has, to paraphrase Roseanne from years ago, an inny rather than an outtie.

    I am sickened to see that this is what the Washington Post has come to. The NYT, even since the lead up to the war, has been an utter disgrace. The LA Times new ownership has gutted its stable of seasoned, aggressive reporters. The WSJ is being sold to Rupert Murdoch.

    Things are getting more and more fucked, but it’s happening so gradually, most Americans don’t really seem to notice.

  12. Oh come on, Jeff, everyone knows she wouldn’t dress that way if she didn’t want people to look.
    :roll:

    (Is it possible to make the eyeroll smiley bigger? ‘Cause man, I’d like to fill up the whole comment box right now.)

  13. Fillyjonk

    This is, incidentally, not the first time that Robin Givhan has written about Clinton’s fashion choices. What a commitment to misogynist fluff!

    Did anyone else notice that the article said women weren’t allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor until the EARLY 90s?!? We just fact-checked that and it’s true.

  14. That’s why congress can’t get anything done, it’s all these lady-type politicians parading around with their subtle, yet completely distracting cleavages! How can anyone be expected to keep their mind on healthcare or Iraq when there are “small acknowledgements of sexuality and feminity” around? Giggidy giggidy.

    Since they’ve gotten into political journalsim, I’d just be terribly interested to hear what the WP Fashion section has to say about burkas, or body armour, or the clothing choices of ANY MALE POLITICAL FIGURE.

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  16. Hmmm. Let’s look at the dictionary definition of “provoke”:

    1. to anger, enrage, exasperate, or vex.

    2. to stir up, arouse, or call forth (feelings, desires, or activity): The mishap provoked a hearty laugh.

    3. to incite or stimulate (a person, animal, etc.) to action.

    4. to give rise to, induce, or bring about: What could have provoked such an incident?

    5. Obsolete. to summon.

    Newspaper reporters, even those who write for the style section, are supposed to understand the power of words. I wonder why the author of this piece of tripe would think Hillary Clinton’s cleavage would anger, enrage, exasperate, or vex anyone?

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  18. Jordan

    Out of all the things that annoy me in the press, this story was the one that most compelled me to write the reporter directly. I have no idea if she’ll respond, but hey. The email is as follows: (and thank you to Natasha F. for inspiring the second-to-last line. I tried to find a different analogy but yours was so fitting.)

    Dear Robin,

    I realize you’re a fashion writer, so I’ve tried to read your Hillary Clinton piece with that in mind. However, I’m annoyed that female political figures are still overly-scrutinized regarding what they wear. Too many reporters are already picking apart her appearance in an effort to slowly devalue her professional and political abilities, as if practical pantsuits signaled coldness and a tiny amount of (perhaps unintentional) cleavage signaled ineptitude.
    Strong career women (such as Washington Post reporters) have a responsibility to demand respect for women rather than reducing them to their fashion choices (or lack thereof).

    Women have breasts. Why should that be kept a state secret where political figures are concerned? In the interest of equality, perhaps you should write your next piece scrutinizing male political figures and the fit of their pants, including whose sexual organs can be clearly made out and whose cannot.

    I’m disappointed.

  19. Good thing she’s too old to get her period. Imagine the field day they’d have otherwise.

  20. Constant Comment

    Good thing she’s too old to get her period. Imagine the field day they’d have otherwise.

    The only that shocks me is that someone hasn’t already mentioned how menopause could make her unbalanced/indecisive/moody/angry — pick one.

  21. Kate217

    I detest Robin Givhan in general, but she did blast Cheney for being inappropriately dressed at a memorial service at Auschwitz.

  22. Kate217

    Ok, I have no idea why nothing I’ve posted today has turned out right. Let’s try that again:

    Since they’ve gotten into political journalsim, I’d just be terribly interested to hear what the WP Fashion section has to say about burkas, or body armour, or the clothing choices of ANY MALE POLITICAL FIGURE.

    I detest Robin Givhan in general, but she did blast Cheney for being inappropriately dressed at a memorial service at Auschwitz.

  23. I’m in favor of “deconstructing” the appearance of cleavage, and the ways fashion plays into Clinton’s campaign, because it interests me how female politicians have to play with image in ways that are different and almostly definitely more extreme than the way male politicians do.

    But not for paragraphs and paragraphs. Jeez. I could see a slightly abbreviated version of said deconstruction appearing in TIME or something, perhaps as a companion piece to last week’s deconstruction (using the word loosely, now) of the various candidates’ religiosity. But in news reporting? TELL US WHAT SHE *SAID.*

  24. I guess Hillary Clinton and Jessica Valenti have something to talk about the next time they meet.

  25. Fritz

    Where is the story about getting a peek at Ted Kennedy’s chest hair?

    There was man fur on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Ted Kennedy.

    He was talking on the Senate floor about the lack of parity for mental health insurance. He was wearing a navy blazer over a blue Oxford shirt. His yellow necktie appeared to be uncomfortably tight. Kennedy reached for his collar with his right hand, loosened his tie, and unbuttoned the two top buttons of his shirt. The silver curls registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn’t an unseemly amount of chest hair showing, but there it was. Undeniable.

  26. BAC

    I’m having a flashback to the 1984 presidential campaign of Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro. I don’t think Ferraro had even given her acceptance speech when pundits began referring to the duo as “Fritz and tits” … ugh …

    BAC

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  28. Doctor Jay

    Well, I think Hillary’s change of dress is noteworthy precisely because it is a change, and probably a calculated one. Bear in mind that the author of the article is a fashion editor, not a political reporter.

    One quote that I think most Shakers would agree with: “[Hillary’s kind of outfit] doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman is asking to be objectified, but it does suggest a certain confidence and physical ease.”

    Thumbs up on that sentiment. “Hell yes, I’m a woman!” Good for her!

    One quote I hated: “But really, [Hillary’s cleavage] was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!”

    What the poop? [Thanks to Mama Shakes for the phrase]

    The photo looked pretty unremarkable. I totally did not get the “Just look away” feeling. That outfit, in normal life, would not be worthy of any remark whatsoever. But I do find it interesting and noteworthy that HRC has decided, against her own precedent, to wear it.

  29. BAC

    Doctor Jay, your comment Hillary’s change of dress is noteworthy precisely because it is a change isn’t exactly true. In 2006 a conservative blogger commented on Hillary’s clothing, commenting that it revealed her cleavage. Why this is news (then or now) is a mystery to me.

    BAC

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