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.
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.
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.
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.
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.