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Fashion mag misogyny and Hilary Clinton

Vogue‘s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, may forgive, but she clearly does not forget. Democratic Senator and presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton was…

By Amy Juschka , in Suffragette City: Gender and Pop Culture , on February 21, 2008

Vogue‘s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, may forgive, but she clearly does not forget. Democratic Senator and presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton was to appear in a Vogue Magazine feature when she backed out late last fall for fear of looking too feminine. After stewing on it for a few months, Wintour retaliated in February’s “letter from the editor” in which she slammed Clinton for her last minute cancellation.Clinton and Wintour

Wintour criticized Clinton for the belief that looking “mannish” is the only way to get respect. She continued, “I do think Americans have moved on from the power-suit mentality, which served as a bridge for a generation of women to reach boardrooms filled with men. Political campaigns that do not recognize this are making a serious misjudgment.”

I understand Wintour’s point. Clinton shouldn’t have to back out of a photo shoot for fear of looking too feminine. But, Wintour clearly does not appreciate the tough spot Clinton is in with regard to her gender. As America’s first potential female president, Clinton’s gender is in the spotlight. However, while she is known first and foremost for being a woman, she must also work to downplay her femaleness in order to come across as serious and professional. Posing in a women’s fashion magazine like Vogue would run contrary to this. A spread in Vogue would signify her first and foremost as a woman, also signifying weakness and irrationality, qualities that are not conducive to a presidential hopeful.

The truth is, Clinton had little choice but to cancel on Wintour. And I highly doubt that, had Barack Obama cancelled a spread in Vogue, Wintour would feel entitled to critique his appearence and integrity.