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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet

On November 8, if America doesn’t make history by electing its first former beauty-pageant owner and reality-show star as president, it will do so by electing the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. A woman in a suit; a suit that has pants.

Much is made of Hillary Clinton’s sartorial choice of the matching jacket and slacks as her signature look. But whether the subject of celebration or mockery, the response stems from the same fact—that a woman in public life who shucks nylons and pumps in favor of the freedom of movement long afforded men, well, that’s a woman who is claiming power.

Some might claim that the pantsuit is merely a symbol of feminism, one that can belie the motives of the woman who wears it. Symbol though it be, there is nothing “mere” about it: the pantsuit, as worn by the first presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party, is feminism itself. Its existence as an acceptable form of female dress in the halls of power is the result of thousands of years of feminism, and in Western culture, particularly the last few hundred.

The battle to unbind women from corsets and crinolines and bustles and busks was the work of feminists. It’s hardly a coincidence that the doffing of the corset in the 1920s, together with the adoption of a shorter dress that hung loosely on the frame, coincided with the time women gained the right to vote. But pants were another thing entirely. Pants were—and often still are—symbolic of something other than comfort or even ease of movement. Pants are a symbol of power and self-possession. Pants encase and protect the genitals while skirts offer access. A woman in pants is claiming her body as her own, treading her own path in the world.

Feminists in the 19th century sometimes stepped out in pants, often in the context of bicycling (itself a controversial activity for women). Even in those circumstances, the sight of a woman in pants stirred outrage and fear. A photographic illustration from 1897 bears the caption, “The New Woman—Wash Day,” and shows a man in an apron hunched over a laundry basin while a woman wearing pants stands over him, jauntily smoking a cigarette. It would be another 24 years before American women won the right to vote, and another 72 years before a woman serving in the United States Senate would be permitted to wear pants while delivering a floor speech.

As late as 1938, a woman was arrested in Los Angeles for wearing pants in a courtroom, and was jailed for five days. The movie star Katharine Hepburn was frowned upon by Hollywood for wearing blue jeans to the set. In 1969, I was sent home from public school for wearing pants to class. The walk to school was long, the winter was cold and skirts were short. Had I worn a floor-length skirt, I would have been deemed weird, but not in violation of the dress code. But the sight of pants on the female form, it seemed, was transgressively distracting. It earned me my junior-high nickname, “Stan the man.”

In 1993, only months after Hillary Rodham Clinton became first lady, Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois, the first African-American woman to win a seat in the U.S. Senate, joined Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland in wearing pants on the Senate floor, prompting the sergeant-at-arms to change the archaic rule prohibiting women senators so clad from standing at their desks in the upper chamber.

* * *

As first lady, Hillary Clinton wore her share of skirts, and was hardly the first in that ceremonial role to wear pants from time to time. It wasn’t until she launched her own bid for a U.S. Senate seat, however, that the pantsuit became her everyday look.

It was in 2000, as Bill Clinton was finishing his second term as president, that the first lady threw her hat in the ring of electoral politics to vie for the seat being vacated by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, who was retiring. I was the Washington correspondent for the now-defunct Working Woman magazine, and managed to arrange a White House interview with the candidate.

I wore my best suit, a blue, brushed-silk number consisting of a matching jacket and skirt. With my limited resources as a freelance reporter, I wouldn’t have considered sinking real money into a suit of the sort that featured trousers. In conservative Washington, I didn’t want to risk having my best suit be one that might be frowned upon in some of the spaces my reporting took me to.

I was ushered into the Treaty Room, where I was greeted by Hillary Clinton, coiffed in an elegant but unfussy manner. She wore a brown suit with pants, a pink knit shell and a short, simple necklace of chunky beads. She looked great. And subtly transgressive. For the genius of a woman’s pantsuit is not only the power and self-agency conveyed by the pants; it’s that power combined with the elements of sartorial self-expression traditionally reserved for the female sex—choices of color, proportion, jewelry and other accessories. She’s clearly a woman—and she’s wearing THE PANTS.

This is why no amount of mockery by those who deem themselves arbiters of fashion—at least when It comes to the clothing choices of the first woman nominee of a national party, of heaven forfend, the first woman president of the United States—can dissuade supporters of Hillary Clinton from embracing the pantsuit. There were fundraisers called “The Night of 1,000 Pantsuits,” and a flash mob of dancers that poured into New York City’s Union Square on October 2.

In our interview, I asked Clinton how she endured the constant scrutiny and criticism, which seemed as much about the changing role of women in society as about her as a person. She paused for a minute, and said:

“You know, I stopped thinking about it very much because I want to live my own life the best way I can. And if I think too much about how other people may be perceiving it, that becomes burdensome. … I want to be as grounded, as centered as I can be, in who I am and what I believe and what I want to help make happen for people.

“I can’t really worry too much about what any one person or any group of people may see in me. I can only keep doing the best I can, and if that provides support or it provides some example to others—not about the way I’m living my life, but about the way I’m trying to make choices that are right for me—then I will be very happy about that.”

On Election Day 2016, many women will choose their attire with intention. Though the white pantsuit is yet to be considered a fashion-forward ensemble, it will be soon enough. Hillary Clinton is poised to ascend to the presidency, and those men made queasy by the notion of a woman in the nation’s top job may take comfort in the fact that, just like they do, she puts her trousers on one leg at a time.

IMAGE:  U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reacts before boarding her campaign plane at Miami international airport in Miami, Florida, U.S., October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

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69 responses to “Pantsuit Feminism Is Real Feminism”

  1. BDD1951 says:

    When I was in High School some of us would wear pants underneath our dresses. I was in high school in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This was done on cold days. Girls just didn’t wear pants to school then.

    • FireBaron says:

      Remembering my own HS days of the 1st Nixon Administration, many of the girls wore pants into school then shucked them off for the short skirts (frankly, I have seen wider belts than some of them), of their school uniforms.

      • BDD1951 says:

        I never allowed my girls to wear those short skirts but, my younger daughter would roll up the waist band when she got to school. Her brother told on her.

        • Eleanore Whitaker says:

          I know some of the gals in the 50s wore sweaters so tight it left nothing to the imagination. And those cannonball bras!

          • BDD1951 says:

            remember the sweater girl, Lana Turner.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Funny story about Lana Turner. When I was in grade school, we were studying the Great Depression and FDR. I never knew who my Mom named me for. When I told her I thought Eleanor Roosevelt was ugly, my Mom then broke the news that’s who I was named for.

            She asked what I wanted my first name to be and I said, “Lana, like that beautiful actress.” Mom then said, “Better you be as smart as Eleanor Roosevelt than a washed up beauty Lana Turner will be by age 50.”

          • BDD1951 says:

            Only thing she still looked pretty good at 50.

          • dpaano says:

            So true…..Eleanor Roosevelt wasn’t a particularly good looking woman, but she was certainly smart. She was way ahead of her time!!!

        • dpaano says:

          I used to snitch on my older sisters…….glad that they were married and gone by the time I got to high school. But, my mom used to “surprise” me sometimes and come to pick me up at school, so I couldn’t be sneaky in the least!!!

      • dpaano says:

        Nowadays, whenever I pass a high school, I’m amazed at what some of the kids get away with! Like you, I see short skirts just skimming the bottoms of their undies…..it’s pretty pitiful. And, with the boys, their pants are down around their knees. What’s so cool about your pants about to fall off and your underwear showing? Personally, I like my men in tight jeans!! I don’t care to see their underwear!! I know a lot of high school girls that I’ve talked to agree with me, by the way. It’s just too bad that the boys haven’t gotten the news! I know my police friends say that they like the loose pants because boys can’t run very fast when they’re holding on to their britches as they run!!! It’s quite funny to watch!!! LOL!!!

        • Joan says:

          That’s why I always laugh long and loud at the little boys in big boy britches. To be honest women have had fashion trends almost equally ridiculous- but ours were much shorter lived. Currently I have one outfit that does not include pants – it is for weddings, funerals and job interviews. It is worn about once a year.

    • Eleanore Whitaker says:

      I recall when a female PhD engineer came into our environmental engineering office back in 1993, she wore a skirt and high heels. I heard one of our illustrious macho engineer say, “No way will SHE be hired. You can’t have a women in a skirt and high heels climbing an 80 foot stack or walking across a grated platform.”

      Those days are over. In fact, they were over the minute Rosy the Riveteer entered the workforce on military bases.

    • dpaano says:

      Agreed….I went to high school in California in the early 60’s, and we weren’t allowed to wear pants unless it was Senior Day. It was ridiculous because the boys could wear surfer shorts and Mexican sandals to school, but we had to wear dresses or skirts and blouses! I never quite understood why the boys weren’t told to wear long slacks and shirts and could get away with surfer shorts and tee shirts!!!

  2. yabbed says:

    Jackie Kennedy was once denied entrance to a restaurant when she was wearing a pants suit. She simply went into the washroom, took off the trousers and went back to the maitre de in the tunic jacket as a mini dress and was seated. That was about 50 years ago. How long is it going to take for these male chauvinist pigs to learn that women rule?

    • Leftout says:

      Women defintley rule in my bed, more variety. Pants show a little better the female form and may give women a better sense of power I suppose . In Hillary’s case there are insertable jock straps , some say, for that extra feeling of power.

      • Eleanore Whitaker says:

        Get over it. Your Hillary bashing days end. Women are tired of hearing it. Time for all good little boys to grow up and act like grown men with brains.

        • Leftout says:

          Yes, Mamme. Sorry. I really love real women.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            I am sure you do love women…the ones who suit your purposes. The problem with some men is their inability to understand “fair play.” To these guys fair play is “fore play.” But, not to worry. Today’s women have gotten the shaft for so long that we now know the Art of the Deal too. So you bet we will learn not to play fair to guys who use fair play as some deviant sexual fantasy.

          • Leftout says:

            Women suit every purpose. I am not selfish and foreplay is FairPlay, they can get the shaft any time is suitable , I am kind and com passionate to a woman’s needs. If we ever meet I can change your mind, then you can tell the truth to everyone! Can we meet at Rio Diner, I buy of course.

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            I value your opinion even when I don’t agree with it. I am sure you are not like a lot of men I’ve known. For my entire life, I’ve been outnumbered by men 20 to 1 at home, in business and even in my religion.

            If I am a tough woman who thinks like a man, it is thanks to that army of men I observed and took many lessons from.

            I refuse to treat any man as if he is a little child. I also do not like women who “mommy” men because that to me is an insult to men’s intelligent. Being the mother of 2 sons, I can tell you that they have a very different attitude toward women and most always choose those they know are their equals.

          • Leftout says:

            Wow, thanks for a vote of some confidence , I have been always surrounded by 20 : 1 women and most in managerial or exec positions, nature of health care. But I always had fun bantering with all. That is how it was and still is, underneath the many sexual harassment courses that take away the serendipity of friendly conversations.

          • CrankyToo says:

            I’m Donald Trump and nobody respects women more than I do…. except, of course, my buddy Leftout.

          • Leftout says:

            That is true , trump is somewhat good looking while I am not so I have to be careful if I find a woman in heat, then i have to treat her like a queen. I do not get that many chances. Only claim is that I have big feet , large nose and large hands. Seems to turn them on. I even bought Western boots 2 sizes larger that I wear to attract the most females. Like a young buck with a large rack in the forest . Works for me , have to use what ever god given resources I have. How about you , short pipe?

      • Daniel Jones says:

        I find it telling that the men that feel offended by women wearing pants feel empowered trying to elect a surprise groper.

        • Leftout says:

          I prefer women in nice fitting pants, not she man- hillary though, and I agree with you that groping is usually surprising …..personal notes , Bill Clinton.

    • Anna Maria Yoakum says:

      A dear friend of mine had to do the same thing. She was an airline stewardess back in the 1960’s and she had been wearing her pant suit uniform during a flight. When the plane landed and all passengers had disembarked, she and the other stewardess decided to go out for dinner. The fancy dinner club they went to would not let my friend in because she was “inappropriately” dressed in a pants suit. The other stewardess encouraged her to go into the ladies room and remove the pants portion of her uniform as the top was a longish tunic and would look like a short dress. Sure it looked like she was wearing a mini dress but the dinner club thought that was more dignified than the pants suit . . . go figure! Thank God that some things today have changed for the better.

  3. TMZ1928 says:

    There’s no power in Hillary’s pantsuits. What she really needs is for Armani to sew her up some giant muumuus so she will be ready for prison. She should be preparing for her trial right now, not running for president. Not only is she too sick to be president because of her Parkinson’s disease, but she is too corrupt.

    • CrankyToo says:

      I’m looking for one word of truth, or simple rationality in your inane post. Nope. Nothing there but evidence of irrational disdain and flagrant disrespect.

      You’re a lowlife, no-class deplorable. And this will not be a good day for you.

    • Eleanore Whitaker says:

      Hillary dresses the way most Boomer women do. We do not try to act like a 20 year old model like Trump’s wife. Melania has so much botox in her fat lips we can only imagine it is to “please” Trumpenstein’s sexual deviance.

      And those fake bazongas of Melania’s has every guy fantasizing about her nude like in her Playboy centerfold. No self respecting woman dresses to look seamy.

      Trump’s “piece” is about the height of proving his male ego is way out of control.

      Trump is going to prison for racketeering. The NY Federal Judge has already ruled that the Trump University falls under a violation of the RICO Act. He is going to court. Hillary NEVER has. Try again Mr. MAN before the rest of us “nasty” women lynch you and your big mouth men and show you how we have fun dangling you upside in publie squares. Your male power is gone. Step aside.

    • Independent1 says:

      Are you sure you’re not just AgLander using another moniker?? Both of you do nothing but post nothing but nonsensical gibberish that’s not even worth reading!!!

    • I Am Helpy says:

      OK sorry you’re garbage.

    • dpaano says:

      Gee, it’s interesting that you say that because Trump has more lawsuits coming down the pipeline than anyone else! Hillary has NO lawsuits pending, by the way, but Trump has 2-3 pending right after the election…..one for raping a 13-year old; one for his con job with his “Trump University;” and a third from a very much needed major investigation by the IRS into major tax fraud. So, TMZ, you need to really use your brains for something other than to hold your hair on (if you have any left) because she has NO need to worry about being “ready for prison,” but your buddy, Trump, certainly does!! I wonder how he’d look in a muumuu, which by the way, is the national dress of Native Hawaiians.

  4. AgLander says:

    The author used very little thought in composing this article on pants suit feminism and power. It does not even remotely apply to Hillary Clinton, and here’s why.
    Pant suits are merely one of many different styles of clothing in a confident women’s wardrobe closet along with dresses, skirts, Bermuda shorts and blouses. A confident, empowered woman wears all styles of clothing as she projects herself in a positive and self assured manner in her daily life.

    Now….take a look at Hillary Clinton. She uses pant suits the way a person wears a robe…..to cover her entire body; a body she feels uncomfortable in exposing, whether it be her arms or legs. She does not project confidence and strength by her exclusive use of body cloaking pant suits all day, every day at any appearance outside the darkness of her bedroom when she is alone and no one can see her. A strong and confident woman uses her entire wardrobe. Hillary Clinton uses her wardrobe as a protective device. Walk into Hillary’s closet and I bet you won’t find any article of clothing that doesn’t shroud a body she does not feel comfortable in.

    This lack of confidence extends to her personality…..she is extremely passive-aggressive. She defensive and secretive in answering questions
    yet lashing out at all who oppose her and her extreme political goals.

    If you want to make a case for pant suits feminism, feel free to do so. But please…..Hillary Clinton is the last person that can be used as an example of such feminism!

    • Eleanore Whitaker says:

      Hillary is the FIRST person to use for an example of a woman who is persistent and makes persistence pay off better than any man. You are a moron. Your gospels of BS prove nothing, are nothing and MEAN nothing.

      All you prove is that our Mommy and Daddy were brother and sister and bred a mental case as a result.

      Women wear pants because they are more comfortable. Men wear pants to prove they have some semblance of MANHOOD. So tell us Mr. MANhood, how come yours is smaller than an ant’s?

      • AgLander says:

        So…..if Hillary was invited to a picnic in Central Park on a warm summer day, you feel confident she would show up wearing Bermuda shorts and a blouse in order to be “more comfortable” (your words) or would she be wearing the less comfortable and sweat inducing pants suit? We both know the answer to that question, don’t we! Do you enjoy playing the role of the fool, Ellie?

        • Eleanore Whitaker says:

          Hey stupid! You really show how far out of your league of knowing what women are really like with every one of your “I Hate Hillary” posts. First of all, Hillary and most Boomer women do not go around Mr. Sexist, dressed to look like they are 20 year old models.

          You are a jackass and you prove it every time you post. Men love to hide those bald spots by doing those silly comb overs or investing in plugs.

          Tell you what fat butt…how about you let us see the Donald in a bright red Speedo on a beach..oh puke! The imagery of that just made me retch.

          • AgLander says:

            Whether you acknowledge it or not, we both KNOW Hillary does not wear pant suits out of comfort or confidence. She wears them out of NECESSITY due to her extreme self consciousness and lack of confidence in her body appearance. If that fits your definition of a feminist, woman power, an in your face modern women then so be it. The rest of us call it what it is….an insecure individual, not a strong woman!

          • Eleanore Whitaker says:

            Do you have ESP? Second sight? No? Then, how in the hell can you know with your feeble Mr. Man mind why Hillary wears pantsuits? Or why women would puke if they had to see Trump in a red Speedo. Why does Trump wear a phony orange Hairpiece? I know why…do you? http://www.glamour.com/story/donald-trump-moms-hair-photos.

            A man who dyes his hair at age 70 is a phony. But then you know that about Trump right? As for his Orange hair asshat…that was the color of his Mommy, Maryann’s, Hair…and what kind of grown man copies the color of Mommy’s hair?

          • AgLander says:

            President TRUMP!!

          • BDD1951 says:

            She just recently wore a dress.

          • AgLander says:

            not true……unless it was just the two of you at your house because no one else saw it. It hasn’t happened in years..

          • BDD1951 says:

            It is true She was on tv at the dinner for underprivileged children in New York just a few weeks ago. She had a dress on.

          • Thoughtopsy says:

            Oh look… crickets.
            I think you broke him.

            Poor Ag-troll. No stamina.

          • AgLander says:

            She can wear them all she wants now because she lost!!

          • dpaano says:

            Hillary always looks great in whatever she wears, and the fact that she prefers pant suits for their comfort and look doesn’t mean she’s any less of a woman…..a very strong woman!

          • Anna Maria Yoakum says:

            OMG -it made my stomach turn over also. Now it’ll take me hours to burn that image out of my brain. Gag, choke, cough, hack, gasp !

        • Thoughtopsy says:

          You’re such an unrepentant moron.
          Ingrained beliefs fed by Fox News.
          No critical thinking skills.
          No Ability to use Google.

          You’re the perfect Trump voter.

          https://still4hill.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/that_dress2.jpg

    • Independent1 says:

      More mindless gibberish from an absolute moron!! Nothing new here!!

    • I Am Helpy says:

      You hate and fear women because you’re a weenie. Got it.

      • AgLander says:

        After all those hundreds of repeating over and over: “You gonna lose”, I have but one thing to say to you……YOU LOST!!!!

        • I Am Helpy says:

          Sorry you think that. I don’t live in the US, though.

          In fact, you just made me incredibly wealthy. A pay rise, new clients, another zero tacked on to the end of what we charge, and we’re already getting employment inquiries. And you did this by ensuring you’ll die unemployed, sick, and in poverty! Heck, you’ve already crashed your own economy. It’d be hilarious if your imbecility wasn’t going to hurt others!

          I hope that helps!

          • AgLander says:

            So long, loser! It’s time to crawl back into your hole and live in your delusional dream world of wealth and importance. I hope you can collect enough today in your tin cup to pay for an egg salad sandwich….if not you have the dumpster behind McDonald’s to scrounge for a calorie or two!! Freedom isn’t free….you are the one who made the choice to drop out of school and choose drugs and laziness as your best friends!

          • I Am Helpy says:

            OK thanks for the yacht! Not sure why you think I’m a school dropout like yourself; I have, as I’ve mentioned before, multiple degrees. Sorry you sacrificed your job, unemployment benefits, food prices, healthcare, and social security just because you’re a racist imbecile!

          • AgLander says:

            Wow….you REALLY sound butt hurt! No more Hilly for the former “King of America” has created a stress condition that may not be reversible! Have an egg salad sandwich…..it is a comfort food that may lower your blood pressure before mom calls you for bath time.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            How does pointing out you made me money – lots of money – sound “butt hurt” to you?

            The worst effect I’m going to have from you moronically destroying your country is that I’ve had to delay my 7-week holiday to manage all the new projects we’re getting from clients who don’t want to do business with a third-world nation. I feel bad that I’m profiting from this, but at least I can poach some top-rate talent now for not much more than the price of a plane ticket.

            Thanks!

          • AgLander says:

            You are a piece of work! Do you think any of your blathering is believed by anyone? I’m actually waiting for you to beg for my kindness in forwarding you a survival loan! (But you’d only give it to your heroin supplier, so the answer is “no”.)

          • I Am Helpy says:

            oh no you tanked your economy, put my competitors out of business (well, not yet), and sent me their best clients and employees

            please no

            my wallet can’t hold any more

          • AgLander says:

            you better use those coupons that are bloating your wallet so much that you are having hip pain…..they expire soon.

          • I Am Helpy says:

            OK sorry you’re mad about crazy nonsense

            thanks for the money!

        • I Am Helpy says:

          Also, I don’t see what that has to do with your pathological fear of women?

        • I Am Helpy says:

          PS: you gonna lose!

    • Thoughtopsy says:

      Yes… because a 70 year old woman wanting to be taken seriously in politics is totally going to wear revealing clothing just to titillate her viewers.

      Wow… you really just can’t get past your ingrained view that women are meant to clothe themselves for YOUR enjoyment and to your standards, and if they don’t it’s a sign of lacking confidence.

      I notice thet F**kface Von Clownstick covers his whole body, too.
      Shall we assume that because a 70 year old man isn’t revealing himself in Borat mankinis and floppy shirts unbuttoned to the waist, that he’s a scared little boy as well?

      I can’t decide if you’re more stupid than you are disgusting, or vice versa.
      Want I can say is that you rate women on how they look. Then you extrapolate that into their personality traits to fit your bigotry.

      However it is highly amusing watching you try to explain what women should do.
      Do go on.
      /popcorn

  5. dpaano says:

    I LOVE her pantsuits, especially the red ones! She looks chic, stylish, and in total control of her life! I like the fact that she doesn’t care what other people think when it comes to what she wears….she looks great and her style, especially for someone her age, is impeccable! Hang in there, Hillary!!! You’re lookin’ good!

  6. Anna Maria Yoakum says:

    Has anyone ever noticed how the Trumpty trolls seem to work in a schedule ? There will be one that appears like . . . oh say “Box” and that one will make a number of asinine comments, then dissappear and another one will pop up . . . maybe “Aglander”, and they too will make several ridiculous comments and supposed insults. Then that commentator disappears and another takes that one’s place. Is it orchestrated or is it just one person changing personas ?

    • CrankyToo says:

      They’re all so detestable… maybe they just can’t stand being around each other.

    • Thoughtopsy says:

      Well there was a recent Sam Bee piece on Russian trolls that apparently make up roughly 30% of all online trolling on US political sites.

      Could be a case of that I guess. Although I’d say there are at least 2. One set has grammar and spelling issues, and says things in odd ways. The other seems more practiced and may be more “local”.

      I’d have to agree that they are paid, though.
      Why else would you sit on this particular site for literally hours and answer articles with pointless, fact-free alt-right ramblings (Often unrelated to the actual piece) then receive a almost constant stream of reasoning (and some abuse) that points out how stupid you are?

      They’re either masochistic and sort of stupid to an absurd degree, or it’s their job.

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