May 23, 2010

"In the photographs of Kagan sitting and chatting in various Capitol Hill offices, she doesn't appear to ever cross her legs."

Robin Givhan, the WaPo fashion critic observes that the Supreme Court nomineee sits "with her legs ajar":
Her posture stands out because for so many women, when they sit, they cross. People tend to mimic each other's body language during a conversation, especially if they're trying to connect with one another. But even when Kagan sits across from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has her legs crossed at the knees, Kagan keeps both feet planted firmly on the ground. Her body language will not be bullied into conformity.

She does not cross her legs at the ankles either, the way so many older women do.
Yeah, we were taught, strictly, that a woman should cross her legs at the ankles and only at the ankles.
Instead, Kagan sits, in her sensible skirts, with her legs slightly apart, hands draped in her lap. 
Here's the class picture from my kindergarten, around 1957:

Kindergarten class 1957

Looks like the girl at the far left has Supreme Court potential. And I don't.

***

I've displayed that picture before on the blog, back in 2006. From that post:
I think it's cute that they got nearly all the girls to cross our legs at the ankles, which was considered the only proper way for a female to cross her legs.

***

Does the position of Kagan's legs matter?
Yes, but only to the extent that aesthetics and style matter.
Yes, as a clue to how she thinks and feels and thus to how she will decide cases.
No, the visual aspects of a person are trivia, at best.
No. If leg position indicated judicial style, she'd pose the way that said whatever was useful.


  
pollcode.com free polls

62 comments:

rhhardin said...

It's represented in prose by the split infinitive "to ever cross."

edutcher said...

Ajar? How about agape, or even asunder?

This belongs with the post about the Texas textbooks. Not only is the WaPo crowd incapable of telling the truth, they can't even use the English language properly.

Besides, maybe the answer is that Ms. Kagan, like me, has fairly short legs and it's uncomfortable to cross her legs.

PS You look sweet in that pic. Too bad kids aren't dressed like that anymore - especially for school.

WV "daling" Term of endearment, as, "And, of course you know, my daling, you look mahvelous"

Duscany said...

People with long thin legs, like Ann Counter, can practically wrap their legs around one another, like vines growing up a tree trunk.

The best thick-legged people like Kagan can do is put one ankle on the knee of the other. Better to keep both feet on the floor.

I don't know that sexuality enters into this one way or the other.

RuyDiaz said...

Oh, this will result in keeping the lesbian talk going. (As I've just done--sigh.)

rhhardin said...

Vicki crossing her legs at the ankles.

There's four legs to manage, if you're a dog.

john said...

A lot of those little boys had their legs crossed too, but only because they were'nt being allowed to go to the lavatory (esp middle row left).

Someday those times will sneak up on me again.

mesquito said...

More evidence for Crazy Andy.

john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john said...

I couldn't tell in the picture if Kagan's feet reached the floor.

john said...

Givhan has apparently never opened ajar using her knees.

1jpb said...

She does cross plenty.

Sheesh.

rhhardin said...

A "short squat toad-like woman" as Imus immediately described her.

chuck b. said...

I think we've seen this picture more than once before. This is the second most often blogged picture of you.

mesquito said...

1jpb said...
She does cross plenty.


Jon Lovitz?

edutcher said...

john said...

I couldn't tell in the picture if Kagan's feet reached the floor.

They didn't.

ALP said...

This post reminds me of an attorney I used to work for (I spent the last 11 years working as a paralegal). At that time, I was working at the largest, most prestigious firm in Seattle, and this lawyer was supposed to be a big deal.

Anyhow, I dreaded any meeting that found me sitting across from my boss without a table between us. She was fond of wearing stockings with garters (she was maybe mid-30's at the time and this was about 10 years ago). She had a habit of sitting with knees apart with her skirt hiked halfway up thighs - we all knew what color her underwear was on that day. I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying: "Do I really have to sit here in full view of your crotch?"

GMay said...

The things people care about...

New "Hussein" Ham said...

Again ... another poll without the possibility for the correct answer:

Kagan doesn't sit like a woman because she's a butch dyke.

She sits like a man would sit.

And she does so purposely.

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"She does cross plenty."

She purposely doesn't cross those legs because that photo looks like two hamhocks fighting to escape her dress.

We should not be appointing obese people to the Supreme Court. This woman has a severe mental eating disorder known as "can't pass up a McDonalds."

danielle said...

i noticed this before, but i just thought it was because she has short legs and maybe the shape of her thighs makes crossing her legs at the knee less comfortable....

danielle said...

which one is Ann ?

Fred4Pres said...

Didn't Huck Finn have a part where Huck got caught dressing like a girl because the old lady watching him noted the way he caught things in his lap?

I am not sure what it means in Kagan's case. Perhaps one of the Senators can ask her about it at the confirmation hearings.

Or perhaps not.

Synova said...

I think it's a silly thing to worry about. People should sit comfortably if they are working, even if that "working" is talking to people. This is one of the areas where I suppose I'm completely feminist. We fuss about foot binding in ancient China but we are determined to cripple ourselves with our clothing and shoes and hair styles. Fingernails. Even make-up. Carrying a purse.

Does anyone ever really think about how much a purse hampers us? We laugh at the classic homeschooler fanny-pack but it leaves two hands free for useful things. A clutch-purse is the ultimate in rendering a woman half crippled, add in shoes that can't be run in and she's fully dependent on others for anything remotely useful.

I don't see how skirts that require constant attention to crossed ankles in order to maintain one's dignity are any different.

danielle said...

seems like synova needs a cross-the-body purse.

purses are great. where else do you put the keys, wallet, hand sanitizer, tissues, coupons, ipod and the lip gloss/chap-stick ?

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"... maybe the shape of her thighs makes crossing her legs at the knee less comfortable."

She's so obese it's almost impossible for her to get one leg over the other one.
She is so obese she is unfit for government employment. After all, she is asking us to pay for her expensive medical treatment now that she'd be a government employee.

We should demand fit employees, and Elena Kagan is apparently so mentally unstable that she is unable to eat a proper diet and exercise.

We should not be forced to pay for this fatty's health care.

And so for this reason alone, the Senate should reject this candidate.

She's too expensive.

danielle said...

So, New Hussein -- why the hyper-vigilance on weight ? did someone call you fat, and are you venting your deep self-loathing with this pathetic attack on Ms Kagan ?

She's not obese. And even if she was, that wouldn't impact her qualifications.

Are you as concerned about the other Justice's weights -- the men in particular ?

Grow up.

prairie wind said...

Just because Kagan is a woman does not mean that her "fashion" needs reporting.

If Kagan had a more extensive record, we could talk about that instead of her legs.

Kirstin said...

"And mind you, when a girl tries to catch anything in her lap, she throws her knees apart; she don't clap them together . . . ."

Huckleberry Finn is the book I'm reading now.

MayBee said...

There are practical reasons why women should sit with their legs together while wearing skirts that do not cover the knees.
Crossing at the knees does not always make matters better. In a short enough skirt, it can make matters worse.

It isn't just a matter of convention. It's a matter of not being caught in a Sharon Stone moment (or even worse, perhaps, giving the world a glimpse of your big girl panties and cotton crotch pantyhose).

ricpic said...

The things people care about...

Well, not quite. The things people care about concerning women. It's not sexist, by the way. Which is the standard pablum whenever men or women express interest in seemingly irrelevant traits in a woman being considered for a position of great power and responsibility. It actually gives the game away. It tells us that the feminine has no place in the masculine world. Because the feminine deep down doesn't give a rat's ass about the concerns of the masculine world, which is to say the wider world, except...except when that wider world impinges on the feminine world.

Kirstin said...

Givhan criticized the way John Roberts' children were dressed when President Bush introduced Roberts as his nominee.

TRO said...

Maybe she's just trying to be hip like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Iapetus said...

S.G. Kagan did not cross her legs because she did not want anyone to think she was lying to them while keeping her legs crossed.

She also appears to have a new hairdo but I see no mention of that in the WaPo. Givhan may be slipping. Either that or else Givhan has a thing for Kagan. TMI, perhaps?

Rockport Conservative said...

As I am an elderly woman I was taught if you MUST cross anything,it should be the ankles. The hands should be lightly clasped in the lap.
Also in today's fashion world women, including me, who are accustomed to wearing pants most of the time, clap their legs together to catch what falls into the so-called lap. If wearing a dress we are also able to do as the girls in Huck's day did it. We are MULTI- taskers, remember?

former law student said...

Isn't the professor the girl all the way to the right in the first row?

Kirby Olson said...

Varicose veins are the result of too much crossing.

It's far healthier not to cross, since crossing cuts your circulation.

Maybe this is the one thing in her life she's done right.

michaele said...

My guess is that Althouse is the very cute little smiler who is 4th from the right in the front row.

danielle said...

she's the one front and near center, with the white lace skirt. I figured this out by a process of elimination, and then i looked at the 2006 thread.

at first i thought that girl had too big of a forehead to be the professor (no offense), but then again, Althouse seems to always have bangs in later pics.

Charity said...

I have a bad knee and when I cross my legs it hurts like hell afterward. I still do it sometimes out of habit when I am trying to make a good impression, but I always regret it afterward.

Jeremy said...

rhhardin said..."A "short squat toad-like woman" as Imus immediately described her."

Thanks for the reminder...asshole.

Jeremy said...

New "Hussein" Ham - Let's take a wild guess:

You're a fat ugly little woman...right?

former law student said...

The bangs did it.

I was thinking of this law student picture that AA was talking about the other day when I was looking at the kindergarten pic.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/johncohen/152850884/

New "Hussein" Ham said...

"New "Hussein" Ham - Let's take a wild guess:"

Michelle Obama is leading a crusade against exactly the type of person Elena Kagan is.

Elena Kagan is supposed to be an intelligent adult. And yet, she is unable to maintain an appropriate diet and exercise regimen.

Exactly why should we want someone this fucking stupid sitting on our Supreme Court? Someone who can't even manage their own diet? Someone who can't bother to exercise her fat self?

It's true: women can't do math. Elena Kagan is proof if this theory first exposed by Harvard President Larry Summers. If you taken in 4,000 calories a day, and you expend 500 calories a day, then you become the fat, obese pug that Elena Kagan has become. She clearly cannot do simple math or she would not be pulling the Moon out of its fucking orbit.

Look ... the government is running the health care system now. We have to start rationing. We're all paying extra because of these fat slobs like Elena Kagan who are unable to fucking restrain themselves and lead green lives.

Elena Kagan is killing the planet with her over-consumption of our planet's limited resources. She doesn't deserve a seat in our government.

We should not be rewarding such people. We should be pointing at them and laughing so that others will not be inclined to imitate these obese fucking slobs.

Greg Hlatky said...

Did Givhan really win a Pulitzer for writing tripe like this?

From Emily Post's Etiquette (1922):

"To sit gracefully one should not perch stiffly on the edge of a straight chair, nor sprawl at length in an easy one. The perfect position is one that is easy, but dignified. In other days, no lady of dignity ever crossed her knees, held her hands on her hips, or twisted herself sideways, or even leaned back in her chair! To-day all these things are done; and the only etiquette left is on the subject of how not to exaggerate them. No lady should cross her knees so that her skirts go up to or above them; neither should her foot be thrust out so that her toes are at knee level. An arm a-kimbo is not a graceful attitude, nor is a twisted spine! Everyone, of course, leans against a chair back, except in a box at the opera and in a ballroom, but a lady should never throw herself almost at full length in a reclining chair or on a wide sofa when she is out in public... The proper way for a lady to sit is in the center of her chair, or slightly sideways in the corner of a sofa. She may lean back, of course, and easily; her hands relaxed in her lap, her knees together, or if crossed, her foot must not be thrust forward so as to leave a space between the heel and her other ankle."

New "Hussein" Ham said...

To sit gracefully one should not perch stiffly on the edge of a straight chair, nor sprawl at length in an easy one. The perfect position is one that is easy, but dignified. In other days, no lady of dignity ever ordered three bacon double-cheeseburgers at
Wendys, held her hands on her hips, or twisted herself sideways to scorf down a that fourth Gordita Grande, or even leaned back in her chair to inhale that last taco!

To-day all these things are done by Elena Kagan; and the only etiquette left is on the subject of how to get extra cheese on one's pizza.

Jeremy said...

New "Hussein" Ham - You're a disgusting little fatty, aren't you?

Is that why you're so sad?

Jeremy said...

Greg Hlatky said..."Did Givhan really win a Pulitzer for writing tripe like this?"

Well, not "exactly" like this...

James said...

Ok New Ham, let's make a deal. Liberals will replace the overweight Kagan in exchange for the bloated-toad-looking Justice Scalia also being kicked off. Acceptable?

Synova said...

"To sit gracefully one should not perch stiffly on the edge of a straight chair, nor sprawl at length in an easy one."

This assumes a whole heck of a lot about the height of the woman and the size of the chair.

The same sized chair does not "easily" fit a woman of five feet and a man of six three. I remember some entirely gawd awful thing that the Russians had set out for a female dignitary. If I'd sat in it I'd have been "perched stiffly on the edge" or in the center with my feet swinging or to the back with not more than my ankles and feet sticking straight out. For male dignitaries of significant stature the chairs were likely a wonderful change. (I'm guessing they were Historic, but there you go.)

Crossing your ankles with your feet slightly to one side and neither perched, sprawled or twisted only works on a chair that is slightly lower in the seat than your knee to feet length.

I spend a lot of time "perching."

ironrailsironweights said...

Kagan is said to be 5'3", which is not unusually short by any means, but she appears to have rather short limbs for her height. Combined with her being somewhat overweight (though far from obese), she probably has some difficulty crossing her legs in the knee-over-knee manner that's traditional for women.

Peter

former law student said...

Chief Justice Taft was no lightweight, either. He only made it to age 73, however.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Taft-Harding-Lincoln.jpg

BJM said...

Althouse's smile gave it away.

At least Kagan's skirt isn't flying up. *shudder*

WTF is Venus thinking?

Alex said...

Kagan is so fugly it wouldn't make any difference.

danielle said...

BJM-- she's lost it. you would have thought she learned her lesson from the Australian ... or that someone would have said something to her about it !

former law student said...

WTF is Venus thinking?

"When you got it, flaunt it." -- Braniff Airlines slogan, 1967

Synova said...

5'3" isn't unusually short for a woman but I doubt two extra inches makes her fit furniture that much more than I do.

jamboree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jamboree said...

It's not trivial. It might be in another twenty years. I am on the older end of Gen X. I was still trained by the aversion therapy known as "Junior High Cotillion" to sit with the ANKLES CROSSED. Even the legs crossed was considered racy.

I sit with legs crossed generally. I think it's more attractive, I suppose, but those memories of a 6th grade Patricia Dethlefsen looking clunky and yes, lesbian, might also be haunting my subconscious.

I don't see a connection with how she decides cases but I do see a connection with why she's not married. No matter how much of a girlie girl Maureen Dowd said she was, she had some social obliviousness in her - back to the girl geek argument.

This is the kind of thing, like makeup, that guys insist they don't react to, and they don't on a rational level, but they really do.

Anne B. said...

``There are practical reasons why women should sit with their legs together while wearing skirts that do not cover the knees.''

Amen to that. And as ALP pointed, short skirts + legs apart can treat the viewer to a whole lot more than the viewer wants to see.

That happened to me some years ago, while riding the Chicago El. We were stopped at the Damen Avenue station and on the opposite platform I could see a skinny girl wearing a short dress, sitting with knees apart. I could also see, without any effort, that she wasn't wearing any underpants.

If you're wearing long pants, it doesn't matter. If you're wearing a skirt, keep the knees together.

New said...

Prof. I would have to say that you have an amazing digital trial about your excellent journey. Terrific photo. There are 24-students (11 girls, 13 boys). Was that typical those days? Do you keep in touch with your class-mates? How many are lawyers? Perhaps, you will be Judge in some court some day.

New said...

Prof. I would have to say that you have an amazing digital record about your excellent life journey. Terrific photo. There are 24-students (11 girls, 13 boys). Was that typical those days? Do you keep in touch with your class-mates? How many are lawyers? Perhaps, you will be Judge in some court some day.

urpower said...

"Most of them wore see-through blouses or something similar and crossed their legs." Just reading Houellebecq's "Elementary Particles"- girls in the 70s could cross legs but accentuate sexuality in their breasts. Top open, bottom closed.