Tuesday 25 October 2016

Why women hate Hillary and Angelina

Published 01/10/2016 | 02:30

US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder
US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

The lines between entertainment and politics have become blurred to the point of fusion. We now find ourselves in the bizarre situation where celebrities can segue seamlessly into international politics, but serious politicians like Hillary Clinton are increasingly expected to behave like celebrities in order to gain any traction with the voting public.

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America's media is currently engaged in an oscillating obsession over two feisty females - Hillary Rodham Clinton and Angelina Jolie Pitt. One is engaged in a multi-million-dollar power struggle involving scores of spin doctors, political war rooms, and international subterfuge; the other is running as the Democratic candidate to become the next president of the United States.

Actress Angelina Jolie Photo: LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
Actress Angelina Jolie Photo: LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Now, both ladies are also bound in a very high-stakes public relations war with powerful men. They have impressed in their chosen fields and excelled in ways that most of us never will, but still they live in the shadow of their husbands.

The similarities do not end there. Even though both have enjoyed tremendous success in their own professions on their own merits, they continually fail to elicit support from those who theoretically should be their strongest supporters - women.

Female-centric empathy is in short supply for Hillary and Angie. Why?

Angelina Jolie is a woman possessed of a unique and dangerous attraction that most of us would die for. With just enough allure to scare a man to death while simultaneously rendering him senseless with desire, she captivates and intrigues the male species effortlessly.

Her effect on the female population is almost the absolute polar opposite. If we are honest, most of us are jealous of her stunning looks, her ability to multi-task on a biblical scale, her fear of nothing and her success at absolutely everything she does. Damn her. What a complete bitch!

Poor Hillary, on the other hand, just cannot get anything right. One of the most successful politicians of this generation (gender aside) and now America's first female presidential nominee, she has spent most of her political career being disliked. A woman with the audacity to wear pants suits in this designer age and faint in sub-Saharan temperatures - hang her from her Zimmer frame right now, I say.

We look to female role models to break glass ceilings for us, and when they try, it is other women who are often the hardest glaciers to crack.

This week Hillary Clinton chewed up her nemesis, the political showman Donald Trump. A man who has joked about bedding his own daughter and whose troubling sexist attacks on women should be enough to ensure the majority of right-thinking females play no further role in his political advancement.

But for Hillary, simply slaying Trump is not enough.

Clinton must now ensure that her unique historical position represents a sea of change for American women, as Barack Obama did for black and ethnic minority voters in 2008. Her core base support should be women, young, liberal, moderate, and older.

Unfortunately, tepid generic speeches that were meant to make her more appealing to the average voter have alienated her from women who just do not think they can relate to her.

As Hillary was analysed to within an inch of her life, we were force-fed a deluge of reports surrounding Angelina Jolie's impending divorce. Of particular note were her political aspirations and ambitions, which range from the sublime to the plain ridiculous.

It seems that Ms Jolie's humanitarian ambitions are not confined to simply adopting children from every war-torn nation in the world (an effort that has been reduced to little more than an international joke).

Claims about Jolie stretched from a reported desire to infiltrate the British royal family, to a supposed ambition to become Secretary General of the UN. Revelations that the award-winning UNHCR Ambassador had developed a 'war team' to advance her causes were more fuel to the raging fires of a celebrity divorce.

By all accounts, poor Brad couldn't keep up with Mrs Pitt and her never-ending heroic efforts and altruistic missions. So he threw his spliff away, stormed off their private jet, then drove around in a fuel truck. How very Hollywood of him!

In the public relations battle, Angelina is still not winning the war with women. Perhaps she never will. We are comfortable with her achievements as an Oscar-winning actress, a film maker, a mother and a caring philanthropist, but many remain suspicious of her motives for moving into the political arena. Notwithstanding her many international awards, scepticism essentially centres around Jolie's capacity to be substantive on complex humanitarian issues which require political experience, diplomacy and staying power.

Ironically, these are all skills which Hillary Clinton has in spades. But her political prowess is not enough because she is consistently failing to elicit the genuine emotion required to connect with an audience and reveal a more personal side of herself.

She is missing the "empathy gene", critics cry. As Ronald Reagan aptly asked, "how can a president not be an actor?"

So, neither Clinton nor Jolie are considered the full package. If only Hillary could learn to act like she was in the movies and Angie could give back her Oscar and grow a beard!

Earlier this year, Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state, said there was "a special place in hell for women who don't help each other". Maybe the reluctance of some to support these two successful women has nothing at all to do with recognising professional success and admiration. If ambition and success were the benchmark, then surely we would all be on their side.

Maybe it's something much more visceral. Some women will never like Angelina because she took someone else's husband - and don't like Hillary because she stood by hers.

One hundred years ago, Dorothy Parker, famous for her capacity for profanity and whose sharp pen left her male competitors looking limp, wrote: "Women. I hate them. They get on my nerves." Touché.

It's an age-old conundrum. This is a man's world, yet women still have to work harder to make other women like and support them.

Irish Independent

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