Here’s a thought: Let’s stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits.
A headline in Slate on Friday morning proclaimed that Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton “dresses like a lesbian.” While the article acknowledges that the former First Lady’s “sense of style has been criticized for as long as she has been on the national political scene,” and hedges by saying that she “doesn’t look like every lesbian, of course,” that didn’t stop the Twitterverse from erupting in horror. One reader asked, “What sort of insane misogynist weirdness swept in and told you this was ok?” as others called for the publication to take down its Twitter account.
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One user tweeted Slate asking whether she dressed like a lesbian—pointing out the absurdity of a saying a person dresses “like” they’re homosexual.
As a straight woman reading the story, it’s hard not to take offense at the assertion that men and lesbians dress “to convey competence, professionalism, and authority rather than attractiveness,” while “only straight women…pay a penalty if they dress without at least half an eye toward making themselves attractive to the opposite sex.” I would argue that people of all genders and sexualities want to look both professional and attractive, sometimes—gasp!—at the same time.
Hillary Clinton isn’t the only presidential candidate who’s been mocked for daring to challenge our sartorial gender stereotypes. Republican contender Marco Rubio earned few snide comments about his height and propensity “high-heeled booties” when he was spotted wearing heeled boots. As one user points out, a headline proclaiming that Marco Rubio dresses like a gay man would probably have stirred up even more controversy.
Women have enough to worry about when trying to dress for work, whether it’s in the corporate world or at Silicon Valley startups. Let’s not drag outdated and irrelevant notions about sexual orientation into it.
So no, Hillary Clinton does not dress like a lesbian. She dresses like the presidential contender and pantsuit aficionado that she is.