The Trivialization of Hillary Clinton

Talking about the tug-of-war between Secretary Clinton and her husband

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Hillary Clinton has been one of the most consequential women in recent American history, but a "peculiarly gendered form of trivializing scorn still tags our secretary of state," writes New York Times blogger Judith Warner. The world, Warner argued, should focus on Secretary Clinton's trip to Africa, not her marriage. Tina Brown does the exact opposite. A side-by-side comparison of what the women value in Clinton coverage.

Foreign Policy or Marriage? Warner points out Clinton visited a refugee camp, talked about rape and mutilation and promised millions to fight this sexual violence. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton took a trip to the front pages in the U.S. for securing the release of two American journalists held in North Korea. Brown provides the foil, writing, "On top of Hillary’s own punishing State Department schedule and painful broken elbow, she has to cope--like any wife of a dethroned big-deal spouse--with a moody, irritable alpha male at home who chafes about being sidelined."

This "tide of trivialization that washes over all things 'Hillary' is just so powerful," Warner writes. "That tide threatens to drown out anything of substance Clinton might attempt for a population whose problems have long been obscured in the androcentric world of diplomacy. And that’s a huge pity."

Clinton Can Put the Spotlight on Trouble  While neither woman sees eye-to-eye on how she should be covered, both agree that Secretary Clinton can draw attention to the plight of African women. "Madam Secretary was doing so well at grabbing back the spotlight [from her hubsand by] delivering hard messages to devious, corrupt African strongmen," Brown wrote. "In Congo she was particularly stressed. She had spent a day touring a refugee camp, hearing harrowing stories of rape, persecution, and female subjugation, issues she has long made hers."

"Can all this complexity attract--much less sustain-- the attention of the public?" Warner asks. "Maybe--if we stop viewing everything Clinton does as entertainment."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.