This is not the post I was going to write.

I had lots of paragraphs on learning that city editors were still presumed male, on noticing that the world that I cover is still made of old, white men. It was going to be a post on how this clip from Ratatouille still applies.

But then over at Glamocracy a friend wrote this:

The thing is, I resent the fact that Hillary is now inescapably a symbol of women in power, and that women for years to come will be compared to her. I have a problem with this because I'm used to a new kind of woman leader, one who doesn't have to try so hard to fit in with the boys and prove that she can be aggressive and ruthless just to be taken seriously. By acting in such a decidedly un-feminine manner, Clinton has actually made it harder for us who had already felt accepted as leaders without resorting to those measures—now, it will be harder for women in my generation who don't act like her to be taken seriously. She cemented a new standard that, in my mind, had already been broken.

My first impression was that she was wrong, that the standard had not been broken, that female editors of my school paper were described as "the ones wearing the pants," that there was subtle sexism in our college age leaders that she had missed.
Ratatouille, I thought is representative of what it is like for woman leaders in Clinton's generation and what it is in ours.

And it's not Clinton's fault. It is the whole world. In New York Magazine in an article titled "Only the Men Survive," Zoe Cruz, who was fired from Morgan Stanley is described as aggressive and having that be her downfall.

Cruz attributed her flare-ups to her “Mediterranean blood,” but they may also have been a matter of necessity. “For women to get to the top, they have to be so much more ruthless,” says another former colleague. “Whether it’s Martha Stewart or Donna Karan—the most bitchy people you’d ever want to meet in your life. But they had to be that way.”

Cruz’s brand of aggression seemed to define her more than it did her male colleagues, partly because she wasn’t very good at—or didn’t see the point in—smoothing over a relationship after a conflict. “A guy can say, ‘But you know I love you, right?’ ” says a female colleague who worked with Cruz in the nineties. “She can’t say, ‘But you know I love you, right?’ It’s the pounding-each-other-on-the-back stuff that men do. Maybe it’s because a woman is seen as too soft and nurturing in a man’s world. Women aren’t encouraged to do that.”

But maybe that isn't true. Maybe woman CAN move into traditionally male roles while embracing their less aggressive side. Nancy Pelosi, after all, was sworn in with her children and grandchildren in the background. I have once flirted to get someone to give me his name. I have cajoled sources. But I have also given them the bottom line: I am going to print this whether you like it or not.

I can choose to be aggressive when I want to be, but I don't have to be.

Maybe Disney is wrong in letting Collete push this. Maybe they are inadvertently saying " you can be a princess for a while, but when you grow up, you've better face the world with sass. It's tough out there if you are not tough."

Maybe the New York Times Magazine columnist who worried about what message the Clinton Nutcrackers and sexist slurs would send to her four year old daughter was hinting at something larger when she writes: "My daughter has never heard that “girls can’t be” or “girls can’t do.” Why should I plant the idea in her head only to knock it down?"

Maybe, there can be a new generation of girls who scoff at t-shirts that say "I'm a writer. I'm a reporter. I'm a girl. Any questions?" not because they, as I did, believe they can and will move beyond that, but because it has never occurred to them that their would be a problem with being a girl and a reporter.

Maybe they will see a female executive editor in one of the nation's largest papers, and will see how she leads the newsroom with her own personality, whatever that may be, and does not have her personality compared to gendered stereotypes.

When those girls run for president, there will be discussions about their strengths and weaknesses as a candidate and that will include how they interact with people and how much of the personal they bring to the campaign, but it won't include questions about how their candidacies would be different if they were men.

Maybe there will be a generation that the "you can't" is foreign. But in the end, I don't think we can blame Clinton for reacting to her gender by being empowered to fight the man's fight. (I also want to note that while I understand why she went by Hillary instead of Clinton or Rodham Clinton in terms of wanting to seperate herself from the former president, it drove me nuts because it felt like in the name issue she did not demand the same level of respect as the male candidates did. I guess this might go against the rest of what I am saying).

I think our generation will be the transitional generation. We will still get told to suck it up if a cop says something sexual to a cops reporter or mimics the pitch of her voice, but we might be able to fight back with a display of talent rather than a need for extraordinary aggressiveness just to prove we have it in us.

And the generation after us will look confused when we show them the a display of "the bad girl side of Miss Bell that Walt never saw" because they will not have realized that they have to chose between being a princess and having a personality. They will have found a compromise that triumphs individuality.

But I am not sure we are there yet.

This is not the post I was going to write: there are all sorts of thoughts about the mass of articles about Clinton that have been published recently. But those may have to wait. I'm not even sure I will agree with this post in the morning.

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Written Pyramids is a blog written by a journalist living and working in Washington D.C.

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