Saturday, November 22, 2008

What women are saying about Hillary's new role

Don't miss Jodi Kantor's story in the New York Times here. I particularly like the parts that focus on being one's own boss versus working for, well, the most powerful man in the world. Of course the parts that speak to her power and influence, whichever role she chooses, are also very heartening. Here are some excerpts:
As [HRC] pondered this week whether to trade her hard-won independence and elected office for a job working for a more powerful man, mothers and schoolteachers and law partners mulled in tandem with her.

* * *

As news spread on Friday evening that Mrs. Clinton had decided to accept the job, so did a basic consensus: the assignment was probably a triumph for Mrs. Clinton, if a costly one.
This part about (some) women relating to HRC and her experiences as a professional woman really resonates with me. That is, I am definitely one of the women who relates, both to showing emotion in the workplace and to accumulated sexist slights!

Throughout Mrs. Clinton’s presidential run, women across the country saw in her a mirror of their own career fortunes: when she teared up just before the New Hampshire primary that she was expected to lose, they remembered their own workplace humiliations, and when she lost the Democratic nomination, many saw it as an accumulation of all-too-familiar sexist slights.

The story is well worth a read for the sense it conveys of Hillary's past, present and future. Kantor summarizes what she calls Clinton's "feminist triumph" by tracking where she's been. In short, the decade reflects the adage, "you've come a long way, baby." A decade ago, Hillary was a first lady whose hairstyles were fodder for comedians. Now, however, she is poised to become the "world's top diplomat." Plus, working for a President is a whole different ballgame than being married to one.

Kantor's report features lots of thought-provoking quotes. Gloria Steinem, who lauds Hillary's decision to take the Secretary of State job, is quoted as saying, “The question of whether one has one’s own political power or goes to work for someone else is not only a feminist question” I guess it may be "not only" a feminist question, but I think it certainly is a "feminist question." I guess I am unsure that anything about Hillary can, after all these years, not be a "feminist question."

I am heartened by Kantor's conclusion that Clinton "is such an esteemed figure, no one will see her as a mere emissary." Certainly, I am delighted for Hillary, though I would also have been pleased had she chosen to stay in the Senate and continue to work on health care reform.

As a related matter, I wrote this post last week on my feminist legal theory blog. It discusses Hillary's then-prospects to become Secretary of State, as well as changing perceptions of her over the years since Bill Clinton ran for President.

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