Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Finger Pointing

I'm really trying to finish up this big project, so not a lot of time for posting this week. But, can I just say? I'm so tired of seeing HRC with that "Oh yes you did!" smile on her face and finger point to someone in the audience. That picture was on the front page of the NY Times this morning. But what's curious is it's not on the online version of the article. There, the much smaller image is of Hillary smiling through confetti and clapping while looking up into the crowd. Like the pictures you see of most male politicians.

So, what I wonder is if photo editors choose those finger pointing pictures of HRC because there's always one just like it, or because those pictures show her relating to someone and women are all about relationships. You know what I mean?

Throughout the primary I saw plenty of male candidates pointing fingers and giving the thumbs up to audience members, but I don't remember the images of the male finger pointing as being so ubiquitous. Granted, I'm relying on my gendered memory, but I'm pretty convinced at this moment that I'm right.

So, does it matter? Does it matter that HRC, in my non-scientific memory data, is shown more often finger pointing and male candidates are not? In so far as it reinforces the idea that women relate and connect in their victories and men relish and lead the celebration of theirs, I think it does. The photos chosen by editors -- consciously or unconsciously -- reinforce stereotypical notions of leadership style, and the purported relational style of a woman could be perceived as less effective. (In a man, it's a plus, of course, but that's a different story.)

I don't think this photo thing on its own is a big deal, but it is part and parcel of the package of gender stereotypes that candidates and leaders who are women must confront. Which is to say, maybe Hillary should stop pointing fingers.


roni said...

They're no better than those photos staged on the bed of a pickup truck at a filling station, where HRC is expressing outrage at the price of gas. Or photos where she's pretending to be a working class hero by tossing back cheap beer and whisky chasers. I liked her better when she was on the receiving end of charges of being an elitist, not the one hurling them.

Robin Aronson said...

I think they're different. In those fake "I'm of the people" photo ops, she's presenting herself one way. Here's the editors are choosing how to present her, and they're choosing images that show her "connecting" not just celebrating. You know? I mean, I'm tired of her all around, but how she plays is interesting.