It made me think about something else I read this morning: "MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Caught on Hot Mic Ogling Melania Trump." That's in Variety, which is going after Matthews for saying, "Did you see her walk? Runway walk. My God is that good." I have trouble even seeing what's wrong with that. Modeling was her chosen profession and she has real skills that people admire. Variety puts Matthews's remark into what's supposed to look like a pattern: "The pundit has been accused of sounding sexist on live television many times before. Here’s a look at some of his sexually regressive greatest hits." That sounds awful, but I don't see the pattern. Just because you make a list doesn't mean you have a list of things that belong together. But what I wanted to pull out of that list — because I'm trying to understand why Steinem wants to see humiliation — was something about humiliation:
(3) January 9, 2008: Argues Hillary Clinton Is Successful Because Bill Clinton “Messed Around”What is it about humiliation? We have a creepy love of it — a fascination — do we not? I confess to using the word myself on the night of the Indiana primary: "CNN talk is all about Trump but the big news is Hillary's humiliation."
Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Matthews credited said she appealed to voters as a suffering wife, “I think the Hillary appeal has always been somewhat about her mix of toughness and sympathy for her. Let’s not forget the reason she is a U.S. Senator, the reason she is a candidate for President is because her husband messed around. We keep forgetting it. She didn’t get there on her merits, because everyone felt, ‘My God, this woman stood up under humiliation.’ Right? That’s what happened.” Matthews later apologized and admitted he “sounded nasty.”
It should be enough that the better candidate wins and the loser concedes with dignity. Why do we want to stare into the pain of the one who is defeated? What's wrong with us? Those questions relate to what I said on Tuesday and what Gloria Steinem said about the coming election, but it's a weirder dynamic that Chris Matthews talked about, the embrace of the humiliated woman, the desire to see her win because of her humiliation. It makes me wonder whether we really accept the truly independent, strong, successful woman. Maybe we need our woman pre-crushed.
But I'm looking back to the last time Hillary Clinton was elected, which was 9 years ago. Maybe we've changed, and that humiliation happened 18 years ago. Whatever taste for humiliated women America may retain at this point, is Hillary still crushed enough?
IN THE COMMENTS: Henry said:
Althouse wrote: Modeling was her chosen profession and she has real skills that people admire.
This reminded me of a weird line in the Melania profile [in The New Yorker that] you linked the other day:
Through a quirk in immigration law, models, nearly half of them without high-school diplomas, are admitted on H-1B visas, as highly skilled workers, along with scientists and computer programmers, who are required to show proof of a college degree.
What a lovely mashup of intellectual snobbery and fake distinction this is! Think of all the athletes, artists, actors, and musicians who work in the U.S. despite not being "highly skilled" workers like "scientists and compute programmers." Of course, through a quirk of immigration law they have O and P visas.