Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture

Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture

Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture

Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture

Excerpt

In April 2012, the political public relations duo Stacy Lambe and Adam Smith used the blog platform Tumblr to launch a humorous feature called “Texts from Hillary,” which paired photos of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wearing sunglasses and working on her smartphone, with photos of other famous figures texting. Lambe and Smith penned fictitious text exchanges between Clinton and political, journalistic, and pop culture personalities, with Clinton maintaining a witty, self-assured upper hand in each exchange. The inaugural image featured President Barack Obama reclining on a couch, asking, “Hey Hil, Watchu doing?” Her response? “Running the world.” With that, the “Obama Cool” of 2008 was cast in a negative light— one that showed the commander in chief loafing on the couch while Clinton took control.

Yahoo News quickly dubbed “Texts from Hillary” the “best political meme of 2012 thus far,” and an MSNBC website asserted that the Tumblr creation “show[ed] Clinton at her coolest.” The Guardian linked the enthusiasm for “the wildly popular Hillary-celebrating microsite” to the widespread appeal Clinton enjoyed in the spring of 2012, arguing that rather than fostering a Clinton craze, Lambe and Smith “rode the wave of Clinton’s own growing popularity.” By late April 2012, pundits were once again bandying about the “p-word.” Howard Fineman noted that Clinton “wins solid marks as secretary of state, rides a wave of cult status on the web, and watches as the Beltway chattering classes wonder aloud whether she will be a candidate for president in 2016.”

Although “Texts from Hillary” was, itself, an enjoyable and insightful commentary on gender in political and popular culture, closer examination of the journalistic discussion that surrounded it, and the associated “Clinton craze” of spring 2012, reveals the machinations of postfeminist presidential culture. “Postfeminism” is a label that has been applied to a diverse set of reactions to the second wave of the feminist movement, but we use it here to describe the politically charged assertion that feminism’s work is complete . . .

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