Robin Givhan of the Washington Post expressed her shock at discovering Hillary Clinton is in fact a woman (and not some sort of androgynous mystery?) after witnessing her “undeniable” cleavage Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2.
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.
Because we all know how relevant her fashion decisions are to her political stance. Funny how she failed to mention the flattering cut of Rudy Guiliani’s black pant suit and his more free-flowing hair style that night. Oh wait, no one gives a shit how the guys look. Respect for them is not earned by the way they dress, style their hair, or show off their cleavage. Respect for them is earned by the way they vote, speak, and act. Hmm…that’s a concept.
Givhan proceeds to discuss the difference between when women weren’t even allowed to wear pants in the Congree to now…when cleavage is apparently allowed to run rampant. She points out Clinton’s always-conservative Oscar De La Renta and Donna Karan gowns as the first lady. It seems as if every one of Clinton’s fashion decisions while in the public eye are going under direct scrutiny just because she dared show a millimeter of cleavage.
With Clinton, there was the sense that you were catching a surreptitious glimpse at something private. You were intruding — being a voyeur. Showing cleavage is a request to be engaged in a particular way. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a woman is asking to be objectified, but it does suggest a certain confidence and physical ease. It means that a woman is content being perceived as a sexual person in addition to being seen as someone who is intelligent, authoritative, witty and whatever else might define her personality. It also means that she feels that all those other characteristics are so apparent and undeniable, that they will not be overshadowed.
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.
Brilliant. She brings up such good points! Of course, Clinton displayed cleavage because she wanted to suggest a more sexual image to her fellow members of Congress. Why else would she wear a V-neck? Hmmm…maybe because she’s a woman and V-necks are a part of women’s fashion? No…it has to be a cry for sexual attention. She’s just not stylish enough to be comfortable in her own body.
When will we stop analyzing what Clinton wears and how she styles her hair and actually give her the same respect we give the men? Or at least judge her under the same kind of scrutiny. You don’t see anyone blogging about Obama’s latest fashion choice. Analyzing Clinton’s fashion choices just keeps her at a lower respect level. It indicates that she is only deserving of our intellectual respect if she is dressed perfectly. The problem is, no matter what she wears, we will comment on it simply because she is a woman. As soon as a woman is in the public eye for political reasons, she is under scrutiny first as a woman and then as a politician. If this isn’t a sign of a lack of equality, I don’t know what is.