Why This Picture of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is so Awesome

A few days ago, this picture popped up on Twitter.  Sometimes this happens.  This isn’t a new picture.  It was taken Diana Walker for a news story for Time magazine, back in that Libya insanity.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is sitting there looking at her phone device.  I’m not sure what time it is.  Behind her is chaos, with people talking and moving .  Either the plane is landing or taking off.  What I like about this is that there are papers all around her, work to do, those big, black paper clips that I love, Hillary Clinton wearing sunglasses, looking down at her phone, doing something either important or mundane. We can’t tell. But what we can tell is that she is in complete control for that moment when the picture is taken.  And, because the picture is a flash-shot of life, never changing, it can easily be thought that she is in control forever.

It’s not that I’m a huge Hillary Clinton fan.  I am, but only because she’s a strong woman.  I don’t know her politics deeply.  I didn’t vote for her in the Primary in 2008. I did like that she took the Secretary of State position and I, like most Americans, approve of her job. That’s not why I like the picture.  I like the picture because it is unlike the typical bullshit pictures of women that we are constantly, constantly blasted with on a minute-by-minute basis.  She is a woman but her breasts aren’t hanging out. She’s a woman but she’s not grinning like a fucking idiot.  She’s a woman but she’s not posing or showing off her new shoes.  She’s a woman but she’s not taking a picture of herself with a camera phone. She’s just a woman. An extremely powerful one.  And I’m just awe-struck by this picture of her because of everything that it isn’t.

This summer, I’m going to start work on a series of essays that have to do with Identity.  I’m going to write about race, homosexuality, feminists, all that stuff.  My thesis, as of right now and completely subject to change, is that some people are forced to assume an identity that they don’t agree with, which causes an immense amount of stress on their lives.  You can disagree with me. That’s fine. I don’t care, really.  It’s important for me, though, for us to have this conversation.  All of my life, I’ve seen people try and be something they aren’t while I’ve watched people push ideas and believes on anyone, no matter of how these ideas and believes might impact someone’s life.  We are not “One size fits all” people.  Not all of us are going to buy a house or get married or have children or cook dinner every night and then watch “Friends”.  The sooner we accept that, the better.  But that’s just what I think, and I’m not articulating as well as I should.  Over the summer, I’ll work to make that better.

Anyway.

The reason why this picture of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is so awesome is because it transcends all our bullshit notions about gender roles.  It tells women, especially young women, that being powerful, strong and independent aren’t reserved for dudes.  And all this is coming from me, one of the most “dude” dudes I know. That’s why it’s awesome.

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7 thoughts on “Why This Picture of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is so Awesome

    • I might, but the rest of the people don’t. And your thoughts are just as valid as everyone else’s, even if I don’t agree with all of them.

  1. I bring up the concept of people using gender roles as a way to define people that disregards the thing that we all have in common, and that is that we are all human beings, and the desires we share as individuals are beyond race, creed, and sex. I think this goes both ways, as when men present what are considered “feminine” characteristics they are ridiculed as well. People are expected act a certain way because of their biology instead of being viewed as a grow, evolving, expanding human beings.

    Whenever I hear someone use a statement similar to “women do this,” or “men do that” i argue that they are buying into a role we assume everyone plays, instead of dealing with the personal, human issue at the root of the argument. Indeed, i see it as an advancement of the human race when we can come to value each of us as individuals, instead of just looking for someone to play a role in our lives, or to be threatened when someone breaks the rules, so to speak.

    I am glad you are coming to focus on this as well, as I think the recent assault on women and their rights as human beings needs the support of men who are not threatened by women being treated as equal human beings.

  2. This is going to sound somewhat silly, but there is something also classically beautiful about her in this picture. There is chaos in the background (from an aesthetic perspective, and probably a noise/activity actuality), and she is composed, in focus, and at ease in the foreground. She has her work in front of her and around her, and seems unflappable. And while she is not trying to be openly feminine, girly, posing for the camera glamorous, with the sunglasses and black frock, she’s somewhat reminiscent of Audry Hepburn. She is a strong woman. She has become somewhat of an elder statesman with composure, power, and wisdom. She doesn’t flaunt or apologize her female gender, but even more so, she does not try to be a man. And that, to me, is the most important thing.

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