Womens’ Tightrope

Harriet KatzPersonal reactions to Hillary Clinton have been increasingly on my mind. I’m not referring to her political stances or affiliation, but rather to the organized and not so organized emotional responses to her as the first US woman to make it this close to the front door of the Oval Office. Hillary is a trailblazer. As such, she is perceived and judged differently than a man.

No matter what Hillary says, wears, or does, she provokes unending criticism. We saw that with her “cleavage”‘ last fall and her “tearing eyes” on the campaign trail in January. She is simultaneously criticized for being too aggressive and too soft. Mary Trigg of the Institute of Women’s Leadership at Rutgers University said, “There’s a very narrow bandwidth of acceptable behavior for women in positions of power, because they have to be feminine, but also exhibit the kind of attributes we look for in a leader”–that is, male leader.

Gloria Steinem recently said, “There is still no ‘right’ way to be a powerful woman–and almost no wrong way to be a powerful man. . . .” I agree. What do you think?

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