Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Cleavage Gate: Hillary Clinton's Breasts for President.

They're called breasts.


Get over it.


What breasts, you may ask. Well if you had been listening to media
commentators and pundits over the past week, you'd find that they've been all atwitter over the fact that presidential candidate and New York Senator Hillary Clinton had the temerity to wear a (*shudder*) V-neck blouse beneath a jacket while making a speech on the Senate floor. The hysteria over her wardrobe selection has now reached absurd proportions. Turn on political TV talk shows, talk radio programs or browse through the opinion pages of newspapers, and you'll find people still talking about Clinton's breasts, not her position on whether the United States should engage in diplomatic talks with Syria.

Cleavage-gate - my name for this recent exercise in national insanity --
started when Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan [1]
hyper-analyzed what kind of sexual message the junior senator
from New York was sending by microscopically revealing chest flesh. "To
display cleavage in a setting that does not involve cocktails and hors
d'oeuvres is a provocation," Givhan wrote.

Since that article appeared, there's been backlash from women writers and pundits saying that such criticism smacks of Puritanism and sexism, and reminds them of the days when a woman's wardrobe was leeringly deconstructed to discern if any sexual implications were delivered in the cut, seams and folds in her clothing. Here's a sample of the reactions:

o In her Washington Post "On Balance" blog, Leslie Morgan Steiner [2] wrote that while she once thought women should wear very conservative attire in the business world, she has since changed her mind. "I'm proudly pro-cleavage now," she wrote. "I'd love to see a national Cleavage Pride movement. Kind of like Gay Pride or Puerto Rican Day. Women in positions of authority across the country would display our God-given cleavage proudly to show how stupid this whole thing is and how wonderful having breasts can be. Imagine the parade we could have.


o Post columnist Ruth Marcus [3] said, "Might I suggest that sometimes a V-neck top is only a V-neck top?"

o Syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman [4] wrote, "In the end, the question is not whether a candidate can show a hint of breast but whether you can have breasts and be president. It's not a matter of cleavage in fashion but cleavage in the voting population. Does anyone remember what Hillary was talking about on C-Span2? Education. Need I say more?"


o New York Times columnist Judith Warner [5]added, "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 . . . Funny that it took another woman to drive that point home to me. Funny, too, that when I looked closely at the photo that accompanied Givhan's article, I couldn't see anything vaguely resembling cleavage. I guess you had to have just the right angle."


My take? I stand behind my two opening lines.


In a nation where the top health officials urge (nay, command) new mothers to breastfeed their babies for a year lest they be labeled as bad moms, yet American workplaces and people in public venues chastise women if they actually try to fulfill doctors' orders and breastfeed their babies -- claiming that the lactating women are trying to titillate others by "whipping out their breasts" -- I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that the fact that a presidential candidate has breasts and that you might be able to spot some of her chest flesh causes some people to go into a frenzy. This, in a world where ample female cleavage is routinely spotted on outdoor billboards, on TV at all times, on web ads and well, everywhere, and that's considered okay.


Go figure.

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