NY Post column: Obama "is like a woman," Clinton "has long been accused of androgyny," Edwards is "a cute 8-year-old boy"

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

In a New York Post column titled "Bam: Our 1st Woman Prez?" Lucy Berrington and Jeff Onore claimed that Sen. Barack Obama "is like a woman: slim, good looking, with long elegant fingers, appealingly dressed -- all terms more typically ascribed to female candidates," adding, "By the end of this year we might indeed have our first woman president -- but not necessarily Hillary." Berrington and Onore also claimed that Sen. Hillary Clinton "has long been accused of androgyny -- trying to sound like a man, flexing her rhetorical muscle," and that Sen. John Edwards' "appeal to female voters is more as a cute 8-year-old boy."

In a January 7 New York Post column titled "Bam: Our 1st Woman Prez?" former London Times staffer Lucy Berrington and poet/playwright Jeff Onore claimed that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) "is like a woman: slim, good looking, with long elegant fingers, appealingly dressed -- all terms more typically ascribed to female candidates," adding: "He embodies many of the positive characteristics we tend to regard as feminine: sensitive and empathetic, seeking to find common ground and minimize conflict, not taking power for granted." After noting that former President Bill Clinton "was famously dubbed America's first black president," Berrington and Onore wrote: "By the end of this year we might indeed have our first woman president -- but not necessarily Hillary." Regarding Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Berrington and Onore claimed that she "has long been accused of androgyny -- trying to sound like a man, flexing her rhetorical muscle." Regarding former Sen. John Edwards (D-NC), Berrington and Onore wrote that his "appeal to female voters is more as a cute 8-year-old boy."

In contrast to their descriptions of the Democratic candidates, Berrington and Onore claimed that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney "is the CEO with movie-star looks," Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is "the war hero and straight shooter," and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is "the parochial religious orator and weight loser." Berrington and Onore also dismissed instances in which former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani "famously cross-dressed," writing that they were "only for laughs at charity fund-raisers."

Berrington's and Onore's January 7 New York Post column in its entirety:

Barack Obama's win in Iowa was the latest upset in the long, discredited history of gender assumptions. A large and apparently decisive bloc of voters widely thought to be Hillary Clinton's -- young to middle-aged women -- preferred Obama.

This may prove critical. Women are more likely than men to turn out to vote -- and more likely to vote for a Democrat. In Iowa, that Democrat was more likely to be Obama, giving him a victory and momentum going into other states. In a Lifetime/Zogby poll last month, a quarter of New Hampshire female voters said they'd base their choice on the Iowa results.

Yet it's not only Obama's policies and strategies that appeal to women. He is like a woman: slim, good looking, with long elegant fingers, appealingly dressed -- all terms more typically ascribed to female candidates.

Those shots of Barack and Michelle sitting with Oprah on stools had the feel of a smart, all-women talk panel: Obama fit right in for reasons beyond race.

Hillary has long been accused of androgyny -- trying to sound like a man, flexing her rhetorical muscle -- but on Thursday night it was Obama who won the androgyny sweepstakes.

None of the other '08 candidates has the inherent, subliminal male-female appeal of Obama. He's physically attractive, but not in the way Bill Clinton was -- the way that drew women in search of oral sex and grotesque fame to the White House.

Women are gravitating to Obama out of a different urge -- the desire to invite him to our book club, join him for coffee or have him coach our child's soccer team. He embodies many of the positive characteristics we tend to regard as feminine: sensitive and empathetic, seeking to find common ground and minimize conflict, not taking power for granted. We've yet to catch Obama beating up an opponent.

Androgyny has long had its place in popular culture -- in fashion, in rock (from Jagger and Bowie to The Strokes), even in sports (Tom Brady's cologne ad in Sports Illustrated). Now it has a growing value in politics, as female participation rises. (Census data show that women have voted at ever-higher rates than men in every election since 1980.)

Beyond Obama, though, none of the current crop seem able to play the androgyny card. Mitt Romney is the CEO with movie-star looks, John McCain the war hero and straight shooter, Mike Huckabee the parochial religious orator and weight loser. Yes, Rudy Giuliani famously cross-dressed -- but only for laughs at charity fund-raisers. And John Edwards' appeal to female voters is more as a cute 8-year-old boy.

Obama alone offers a compelling blend of masculine and feminine. Bill Clinton, who was famously dubbed America's first black president, provides a useful typecasting precedent. By the end of this year we might indeed have our first woman president -- but not necessarily Hillary.

Network/Outlet
New York Post
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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