Our vigilant press just gave us a penetrating report on the President’s lower bowel, and now there’s a new crisis. Hillary Clinton wore a v-neck sweater, and there were reported sightings of…cleavage.
I’m not an expert on the semiotics of dress, so I wouldn’t pick up a message unless she wore a shirt with a picture of Che or the Confederate flag. What she was wearing looked pretty ordinary to me, (you can see a picture and judge for yourself here), but the fact that her clothes trumped her speech tells us a lot about the judgments women face, all the more if they are public and powerful. There is a great editorial in the New York Times, which would not normally be accessible online unless you have account. You can, however, go to Greenpagan, that is posting the editorial. Judith Warner says it better than I ever will in my dreams.
You see, I’d always thought that, when you reached a certain age or a certain stage in life, you sort of bought your way out of the sexual rat race. You could be a ‘person of cleavage’, to borrow a Pulitzer-worthy phrase from Ruth Marcus, a Post columnist, but you could nonetheless make it through your day without having to give the matter much thought.
After all, isn’t every woman past a certain age, at a certain weight and after a certain amount of breast-feeding, a ‘person of cleavage’? And aren’t you allowed, at a certain time of life, to escape from the world of at least my youth, where you couldn’t walk down the street licking an ice cream cone without inviting a stream of leering commentary?
I always thought that middle age afforded some kind of protection from prying eyes and personal remarks. I thought this was the silver lining to growing up and growing older. Clearly, I was wrong.
For the rest of this fine essay, click here.