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The Rise and Fall of the Moman

Moman: A woman who believes she can succeed in competing against men by acting more masculine than men.

I think Hillary Clinton’s victory in New Hampshire is due in large part to one factor: For a brief moment, she stopped being a moman.

Now, I don’t have anything against strong women. I am one. But I also believe that women experience the world differently, and to ignore those differences in service of the idea that a woman has to be more masculine than a man to succeed is a disservice to women. When Hillary allegedly “found her voice,” I would suppose it was more feminine this time around.

Not girly, but feminine.

We all experienced the momen of the ‘80s, with their uptight suits with the padded shoulders and blouses buttoned up to their chins. With their newly minted degrees, they were determined to out-man men to succeed in corporate America – putting off childbearing and demeaning those to whom family and children were important as not committed to women’s equality; working more hours than men, no matter the cost to their family relationships and health; walking and talking like them. Momen dictated to the rest of the female sex what success was going to look like, and oddly enough, it looked just like the flawed American white male paradigm. The quintessential moman is Margaret Thatcher, and I don’t think anyone in American wants a Thatcher clone.

The '80's momen discovered that, no matter how much they tried to imitate men, they would never be accepted as equals to men. Too bad they didn’t figure this out before their fertility waned. It took until the ‘90’s for momen to wake up and say: I’m going to flip the script. I’m going to succeed on my own terms without playing like a man. I’m going to succeed as a woman, not a woman imitating a man.

The problem with Hillary coming into New Hampshire, IMHO, was that she had morphed into a quintessential moman – talking about the issues in strident, nasal-inflected tones, going negative on Obama and Edwards when she really needed to be more like second-term Bill Clinton, “feeling our pain” in words that didn’t sound stilted and scripted.

Well, I think she broke through her moman shell with her display of emotion. And it resonated. And women flocked back to her. If she’s going to win the nomination, it will be because of 40-70 year-old old-guard feminists who, pardon the expression, have the balls to stand up to the nation and say: We got next. It’s our time. But in order for Hillary to keep these women on her side, she has to campaign like a woman, with the promise that she will govern like a woman. The moman thing just wasn’t working. Hell, if we wanted another guy in the White House, not only is this year’s field of male Democratic candidates interesting enough, but they're eye candy, too. And they don’t have any problem disassociating themselves from the Iraq War because, unlike a moman, they’re not afraid to admit that they were wrong on the issue in the first place.

So, memo to Hillary: Stop with the moman crap. Run like the woman you are. Give voters your vision of why a woman-governed U.S. might be different and better and more inclusive. Then, just then, you might just win this thing.


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