The Rush to Define Hillary as a Space Alien or the 50-Foot Woman
Republicans fearful of Secretary Clinton contesting for the Presidency in 2016 are falling over themselves to define her early, trotting out tired ageist, sexist attacks while screaming "Benghazi" 24/7. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is their best hope to defeat her. While he works overtime to tamp down the "Bridge-gate" scandal that threatens his presidential hopes, RNC Chair Reince Priebus and others shout "she's inauthentic", she represents the past (i.e, "she's old"), she has never answered questions about Benghazi! Five and a half hours of testimony on Capital Hill before a hostile Congress don't count, in their estimation.
Should Hillary Clinton choose to run, and most assume that is the case, she will once again define herself for the American people and stand before us with a fresh platform. That day, if it comes, is a long way off. Yet, the insatiable drive-by media cannot wait to jump into the fray. In their hunger to sell copy, her every hair style, clothing choice, and chance remark are fed into an endless process of tea-leaf reading, prognostication and concern-trolling, whereby a pundit pretends to offer Mrs. Clinton sound advice while stoking negative and unflattering narratives about her.
Let's look first at TIME Magazine's recent cover of Hillary's foot. A miniscule man hangs helplessly from the heel of her shoe as she mows down any competition for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Their headline: "Can Anyone Stop Hillary?" The subliminal message of course, is that someone should want to; that she should be stopped. Presenting Secretary Clinton as the Fifty-Foot Woman harkens back to the sexist tactics employed by the bulk of mainstream media to poison the electorate against her in 2008.
A photograph in the New York Times early on in the '08 primaries featured a shot of Hillary's feet as she gave a speech while her husband, Bill Clinton, stared up at her from the audience, his head lower than her shoes. Photographing Hillary towering over the "incredible shrinking President," portrays a powerful woman as emasculating, overbearing and threatening. The picture is meant to chill, not invite. TIME is using the same tactic The New York Times used 6 years ago.
How can we embrace female leadership when the media sends the message that this is a concept to be feared; that the man will someone be crushed in the process. Such a picture is meant to threaten men and women who fear disrupting the status quo in society or even the delicate balance in their own relationships.
In the "picture is worth a thousand words" department, the current New York Times Sunday Magazine features one of the most unappealing, bizarre covers ever. Sporting the title, "Planet Hillary," Mrs. Clinton looks like some sort of space alien with a head of cheese. So if she's elected, will she take over the planet? The artwork here is no accident. I cannot see how this is meant to convey a positive or neutral image.
Wall-to-wall Hillary coverage also sends the message that she is sucking up all the air on the...er...planet...when she has not yet decided to run. Is the plan, then, to make the American people sick of her well before the primaries, or to once again present an "entitled" narrative.
The media is deciding she is "entitled." She has no such notion. We tend not to like people who act entitled. We are repelled by those who are overbearing -- the fifty-foot women, if you will. How are these images any different from the Hillary Nutcracker Dolls that graced every novelty store window in 2008? We can ask the media if the message they are sending is by design. I'd bet it is.
So take heart, Republicans. Once again, it looks like the (liberal) mainstream media is doing your job for you. Will the American people allow themselves to be influenced by this kind of negative imagery and reporting the second time around?
In 2012, I published Dirty Words on Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage, a Hillary Supporter's Rude Awakening, a shocking exposé deconstructing big media's sexist brainwashing and the false narratives that helped to derailed Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. Sharing my journey, unearthing a society not as evolved as advertised, it was my hope this would never happen again. Yet, two years ahead of 2016's first Presidential primary, the same narratives have already been set in motion.
By the way, the book's cover photo* is a picture of Hillary on the campaign trail on 2008, reaching out to the crowd. She is determined, fierce and human -- not some outsized or alien creature.
Past is prologue. Only awareness and protest against cheap tactics will ensure that all candidates, male and female, have an opportunity to present themselves fairly. And that a woman finally has a fair shot at the Presidency.
*Licensed from AP/photo by Charles Dharapak.