Cleavage within Wash. Post over Givhan's Clinton neckline coverage

››› ››› SARAH PAVLUS & BRIAN LEVY

In a July 25 column, The Washington Post's Ruth Marcus criticized Pulitzer Prize winner Robin Givhan's July 20 Washington Post Style section article in which Givhan wrote that the "cleavage on display" during Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) July 18 speech on the Senate floor was "startling" in the case of Clinton, "someone who has been so publicly ambivalent about style, image and the burdens of both." Another Post columnist, Dana Milbank, also seemed to distance himself from the Givhan article during a July 26 appearance on MSNBC News Live.

As Media Matters for America noted, Givhan called Clinton's look "unnerving" and wrote: "[I]t was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!" In her July 25 column, Marcus, also a Post editorial writer, wrote that Givhan "dissected" Clinton "for showing cleavage." Marcus added, "Might I suggest that sometimes a V-neck top is only a V-neck top? As a person of cleavage, I'd guess that Clinton's low-cut shirt simply reflected a few centimeters of sartorial miscalculation, not a deliberate fashion statement."

Additionally, on the July 26 edition of MSNBC News Live, anchor Chris Jansing said that the public dispute between Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Clinton -- in the aftermath of the July 23 Democratic presidential debate question, "[W]ould you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?" -- may be "potentially a good thing for voters," because "maybe we're getting a better idea on how they stand on something that's very important." Washington Post columnist and MSNBC political analyst Dana Milbank replied, "That's true enough. And at least it's a high-minded issue. They're not bickering about --" Jansing interrupted to suggest, "The color of her jacket," referring to former Sen. John Edwards' (D-NC) response at the debate: "I admire what Senator Clinton has done for America ... I'm not sure about that coat." In response to Jansing, Milbank added: "[O]r exactly where her neckline is."

From Marcus' July 25 Washington Post column:

... [Clinton] was being dissected by Post fashion critic Robin Givhan for showing cleavage: "It was startling to see that small acknowledgment of sexuality and femininity peeking out of the conservative -- aesthetically speaking -- environment of Congress." Givhan contrasted Clinton's decolletage with the more abundant display by Jacqui Smith, the new British home secretary, and her complaint seemed to be that Clinton was showing too little, too unassertively.

Might I suggest that sometimes a V-neck top is only a V-neck top? As a person of cleavage, I'd guess that Clinton's low-cut shirt simply reflected a few centimeters of sartorial miscalculation, not a deliberate fashion statement.

Breasts may be an advantage in certain settings; the Senate floor isn't one of them. If you're giving a speech on higher education, as Clinton was, you don't want Ted Stevens thinking about -- and you certainly don't want to think about Ted Stevens thinking about -- your cleavage.

From the July 26 edition of MSNBC News Live:

JANSING: You -- I wonder if this potentially a good thing for voters, Dana. I mean, these two are really being very clear about how they would approach one aspect of their foreign policy, and so maybe we're getting a better idea on how they stand on something that's very important.

MILBANK: That's true enough. And at least it's a high-minded issue. They're not bickering about --

JANSING: The color of her jacket.

MILBANK: For example, or exactly where her neckline is.

JANSING: Yeah. A segment for another day, perhaps.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post, MSNBC
Person
Chris Jansing, Dana Milbank
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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