HILLARY Rodham Clinton once described herself as a Rorschach test, suggesting that her public images reveal only the public's beliefs and biases, while she remains concealed from us. Her observation is partly true. Clinton is not exactly a cipher: listening to her for the past six years has surely given us some insight into her character and values. But like other charismatic celebrities, she has been both demonized and idealized; as a cultural cynosure, Hillary Clinton may be hard to recognize as a human being.
It is probably quite frustrating to acquire a persona with which you don't identify, although if you're interested in privacy, a false persona may be preferable to one that's true. People erect their public images partly for the sake of taking cover in them. There are benefits as well to being considered symbolic of an age: your life acquires a theme or story line, which helps you to understand it and makes it matter to the rest of us.
Hillary Clinton is commonly considered emblematic of second-wave feminism -- a movement that flourished in the 1960s and 1970s. She also stands for the particular cohort of educated white middle- and upper-class women born in the late 1940s, who entered their teens when the feminine mystique was still predominant and embarked on their twenties with feminism ascendant. Clinton seems to share the sense that she belongs to a class of women who experienced and implemented dramatic social change: "I have often thought of myself and my friends as transitional figures, maybe more sure of where we were coming from than where we were going," she remarked in an Esquire profile in 1993. "And friends of mine have described our coming of age as being on the cusp of changes that fundamentally redefined the role of women."