Philobiblon: Women who can't win

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Women who can't win

Mary Wollstonecraft and Hillary Clinton are not at first glance an obvious pair, yet Naomi Wolf makes links in the way they were regarded and treated.

I'd suggest it is part of a broader pattern - that also includes, I thought while reading this, women accused of serious crimes -- that there is no way these women can behave that will not attract criticism. If they act "womanly" they'll be "faking it"; if they act like sensible, strong adults, they'll be "ball-breakers" or "unnatural".

I'm thinking here particularly of the case of Lindy Chamberlain, who was convicted, if you bring it right down to brass tacks, because she didn't cry in public.

Illustrating that the same pattern occurs across cultures and centuries, there's the case of Catherine the Great. "Is it true about Catherine the Great and the horse?" one site asks, answering in the negative, but repeating another favourite set of sexual slurs.

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