Monday, January 28, 2013

The LIghtning Rod For Conservative Anger: Hillary Clinton

And not just for conservative anger, by the way.  I've heard from several Liberals (mostly men but not just men) who viscerally hate her.  Perhaps she provokes both personality and behavior related anger and then that general anger against uppity women?

Never mind.  Rush Limbaugh (slowly sailing into the sunset of historical oblivion, by the way) certainly gives us the sexist angle on Hillary Hatred:  She reminds him of a third or fourth wife when mad.  His own third or fourth wife?  Later he compares her to an abused wife.   So the framework is "wives" and how "wives" might behave.  That, of course, is what makes his jokes sexist.  They are only funny if you think a third or fourth wife mad is funny, as opposed to the third or fourth husband, say.

All this is sorta subtle if we can call anything coming from the guffaw-branch of anti-feminism subtle.  And so is this:

CNN's Howard Kurtz finds the New York Post's Hillary Clinton coverage funny.  And yeah, it's kind of funny to catch her face looking really angry and then to imply that this is why Bill Clinton is scared of her.  But reverse the genders and check if you still think it's funny.  Pick some male politician who shows anger and suggest that his wife is scared of him because of that angry face.

It stops being funny.  Now, what does this tell us?  Depends how deep you wish to dig, but essentially the idea of female anger as dominating in a marriage is viewed as funny stuff because the husband is supposed to be the top dog.  Or so I think.  The reason why I said this depends is that en route to that conclusion you can wade through all sorts of stuff about male victims of domestic abuse not being taken seriously, about women's rage being seen as ineffective and something to laugh at etc.

Subtle, I said.  What I probably meant that this is one of those cases not worth fighting over.  If you stop at every barking dog you never get to your destination.  At the same time, it's a useful theoretical exercise in understanding how much subtle stuff in the culture IS based on certain ways of acting out one's gender and how all that subtlety sticks to evaluations of Hillary Clinton and other powerful women like a large bunch of thistle burs to a dog's coat.