It is no secret that I am more “optimistic” than others here about Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the presidency in November. Yes, I have seen the national numbers tightening. Still Clinton leads.
More significantly, America does not have a national election. America has a national election day. On that day, the first Tuesday of November, we have 50 state elections. While the national polls tighten, Clinton’s lead in the Electoral College looks comfortable and growing.
As depressing as I find it that Hillary Clinton will be the first woman President of the United States, the reality of Madam President is coming – and soon. She has ascended to power by hook, crook, and marriage to a powerful man. Her brand of one per cent feminism is personal ambition using the advantage of her anatomy. I have three daughters, and there is nothing about this woman that I would want them to emulate.
And strangely, or perhaps not, I feel the same way about many American power women. Three American women leaders have trended in the news this week, each a variation on PR over product.
Arianna Huffington might not be leaving Huffington Post just because she sees a lucrative business in selling Huffington branded lavender candles and fluffy pillows to women searching for peace and looking where they know, in consumer goods. She might be leaving because she lost the confidence of her newsroom.
It was common knowledge in the writing community that the Huffington Post used writers who were asked to post on the site. The hit count and increased name recognition were supposed to be reward enough for freelance writers, and it was supposed to be an honour to work there. Instead, it seems that working there was a pain. Not only did writers and editors have to worry about news trends, but also avoiding negative stories on any of Huffington’s friends or favorites. It is a demoralising picture of how trending news trends.
Elizabeth Holmes was the STEM “It” girl not so long ago. A Stanford dropout turned billionaire start-up founder, sophisticated watchers saw her as the female Steve Jobs, only with a more compassionate business, not gadgets. Her company, Theranos, produced inexpensive blood tests that were going to revolutionise health care services and costs. It turns out the tests didn’t work. It turns out that Holmes ignored the caution of some of her research team.
She was more concerned with her company’s prestige than its product. She has since learned that a company’s prestige is tied to its product, not exactly a novel business truth.
Lena Dunham is the writer who rose to fame with HBO’s series, Girls, about the life of single millennial women in the city. I’d state, like most comments on the show, that she wrote HBO’s “hit series” or “popular series”, but the truth is the series was only popular among other single millennial women writers in the city. Her fame came out of a mirage.
The show alternated between depressing and vile. It probably evoked pity more than anything else from older women who watched it. I commented in a piece on her short-lived campaigning with Clinton back in January that, “If “Girls” is realistic and relevant, then everything the Phyllis Schaflies warned us about Second Wave feminism was true. We should be flocking to Phyllis and the other Cassandras of the 1970s and 1980s to figure a way out of this shockingly awful mess for our daughters.”
Alas Schafly, 95, passed away early this week. Dunham is still ensconced in the national cultural conversation…until now. She might have finally done something so obnoxious that all feminist and not-feminist factions are willing to admit this empress has no clothes, in the figurative sense. (We’ve known of her preference for eschewing clothes since her early fame.)
At a posh American gala last weekend, a star athlete did not hit on her. She fell into an inner dialogue about why and concluded that the conundrum of a woman in a tux confused him. To start, only Dunham could wear a tux in 2016 and think she was edgy. Madonna wore a one in a music video for her sophomore album back in the 1980s, and it wasn’t totally new then. Cher, Ellen DeGeneres, Kristen Stewart, Julianne Moore…a woman in a tux isn’t edgy; it’s closer to kitsch.
But the real offence was classic Dunham. She published her inner dialogue on Twitter. The young athlete who had done nothing ruder than pay attention to his phone rather than his table companions found himself instantly typed as a sexist pig or gay. The story has something to offend everyone, and all because some woman in a tux fancies herself a thought leader and therefore cannot resist sharing her every thought with the world.
Fifty years of Second Wave feminism, and these are the American power women in the news, impulsive, cliquish, and dishonorable. We must be so proud.
(Image: Gage Skidmore)