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The Post's Failures Of Imagination On Women

One of the most predictable and lamest media phenomenons out there is the desperate post-publication yawing of media outfits that have printed offensive articles: A paper runs a terrible article about how Obama might be a Muslim, so the next week it prints a nearly equally stupid article about how Christian ladies totally love Barack, etc.

Yesterday, a week after the Post ran Charlotte Allen's "We Scream, We Swoon, How Dumb Can We Get?", which argued with a straight face that women ought to be taken less seriously in the political realm because we're idiots, I open up Outlook and find this treatise on how unfair it is that everybody takes Hillary less seriously because she's a woman. Here's the gist:

If [women leaders like Hillary] speak in ways expected of leaders, they're seen as too aggressive ...

I'm sorry, but saying this about Hillary at this stage in the game is a load of crap. She's done best in her very most aggressive incarnation in this campaign -- heading into Ohio. Or there's this:

We think we're judging people as individuals, but gender is like a contact lens permanently affixed to the eye. ... Every woman faces a challenge when she gets dressed for work: Be sexy enough to be seen as feminine but not so sexy as to be unprofessional.

Could anybody really argue that how to dress sexy vs. feminine has been as much of a challenge for Hillary as, say, Bill has been? I'd say Hillary's physical look has been way less of a media focus than I'd have expected going in.

We may soon reach the end of our first presidential campaign featuring a serious woman candidate. There must be interesting things to write about it: expectations met, expectations dashed. How has she treated the women on her staff? How have different members of the media treated her? We read that voters supposedly don't like a "harsh Hillary," but how did the "shame on you, Barack Obama" line really play in Ohio?

One little story I'd even like to read is on how much of her precious time Hillary has to spend putting on every morning, and removing every night, the makeup that gives her that pleasantly undistracting ageless look, a ritual McCain and Obama don't have to bother with. Who does the blow-dry, the highlight job? (As a woman with curly problem hair, I've sometimes felt palpably jealous of Obama's out-of-the-shower-and-go style.) These rituals add up, and they do change the rhythm of a professional woman's life vis-a-vis a man's. But the problem with the Post article is that it's all assumptions; it could have been written in the exact same way with no Hillary campaign to examine at all.

--Eve Fairbanks