August 3, 2016

Hillary Clinton is definitively not a trainwreck — is that at the heart of her likability problem?


imageHere at Melville House HQ, we’re chomping at the bit for September 20, when we get to publish Sady Doyle’s fierce, funny, and incredibly timely Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why. And while we’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Donald Trump lately, Doyle’s recent conversation with Adam Howard of NBC News, Is Hillary Clinton Unpopular Because She’s Not a Trainwreck?, is a great reminder of some of the obstacles that Clinton is facing this election.

Is her competence and fitness for the office actually hurting her with the public? Placing Clinton into the historical context of the centuries-old phenomenon that we now know as the “trainwreck,” Doyle sees a compelling argument that sexism is driving much of her unpopularity; that “what Hillary proves is that you can do ‘everything right’ and that’s still going to be wrong.”

For years now Doyle has been fascinated by who gets to define what kind of behavior is right or wrong for women, especially through the lens of media. She’s deduced that for centuries now, women in the public eye must always risk being caricatured as hysterical whenever they dare to show that they are human.

That dichotomy may be most prominently on display in the world of pop culture, where the industry of celebrity gossip is powered in part by the deification and then the inevitable denigration of female stars. While, on the surface, Clinton may not have much in common with the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, despite all her accomplishments, she is arguably subjected to the same double standard of scrutiny.

You can (and should) read the whole interview here, and when you’re done with that, go check out Our Trainwrecks, Ourselves for more.



Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.