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May 25, 2010

WAPO: Elena Kagan, Close Your Legs!

<span style="font-size: x-small;">Hyungwon Kang/Reuters</span>
Hyungwon Kang/Reuters

Maybe a traditional media fixture like WAPO fashion writer Robin Givhan (remember her no-longer-fatboy-Huckabee takedown? ) is so insulated from reality, she can just publish anything that pops into her head.  In this case, however, I can’t imagine she isn’t going to feel the boomerang.

The photo above, by the way, is the Reuters shot that illustrates her Miss Manners power trip.

I’m just going to leave you with a few choice snips from Ms. Givhan (then I’m going to duck)….


She put on rouge and lipstick for the formal White House announcement of her nomination, but mostly she embraced dowdy as a mark of brainpower. She walked with authority and stood up straight during her visits to the Hill, but once seated and settled during audiences with senators, she didn’t bother maintaining an image of poised perfection. She sat hunched over. She sat with her legs ajar.

Her posture stands out because for so many women, when they sit, they cross. People tend to mimic each other’s body language during a conversation, especially if they’re trying to connect with one another. But even when Kagan sits across from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has her legs crossed at the knees, Kagan keeps both feet planted firmly on the ground. Her body language will not be bullied into conformity.

She does not cross her legs at the ankles either, the way so many older women do. Instead, Kagan sits, in her sensible skirts, with her legs slightly apart, hands draped in her lap. The woman and her attire seem utterly at odds. She is intent on being comfortable. No matter what the clothes demand. No matter the camera angle.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Elena Kagan (L) meets with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in Klobuchar’s Capitol Hill office in Washington May 13, 2010.

  • bystander

    What a stunning high school Heather piece.

    No need to duck, Michael. You didn’t write this idiocy passing as analysis.

    What I see looking at this photograph is a woman working to engage. Turned toward her interlocutor, leaning forward, eye contact, smiling… her body language virtually screams open not non-conforming.

    Robin Givhan loves her bein’ an Alpha Girl.

    And, once more, the trad media puts me in the position of defending Kagan as a human being, when I’d much prefer to oppose her on the merits. Kagan’s dress, posture, sexual orientation… all red herrings. It’s how the corporate media rolls. Look! A shiny object.

  • http://justbetweenstrangers.blogspot.com/ acm

    wow, that writer is a putz. I guess that everybody around her places top value on trivial exteriors like this, worrying not at all about substance, but there are plenty of people who think the opposite. I would guess that the “less feminine than Thou” effect would be noticed by most, and then forgotten within a minute of interaction with this woman, who by most accounts is both brilliant and personable — the writer’s ability to hang onto that first impression in a dogged manner just showcases her dedication to the primacy of the facade.

  • g

    There are about 200 comments over at the WaPo on Givhan’s column, almost all of them negative about the piece and Givhan’s take on Kagan.

    One pointed out how lazy Givhan is – two or three seconds on Google Images and you can find a dozen pictures of Kagan with her legs crossed.

    The real question is WHY? Why does Givhan think this matters?

    • Mayfly

      Very good question.

  • Megan

    What bugs me is that the whole thing is an artifact of the contrived situation. Normally, two people who are having an animated, interested conversation would sit facing each other. We’d see their pictures in facing profile; from the side, we’d never see how primly shut one’s thighs were. Instead they have to have a fake side-by-side conversation so the photographer can face them, and we get pointless incidentals like sitting posture.

    I well remember Givhan’s long piece on how Justice Roberts sits.

    • nana

      I see Elena Kagan as relaxed, but responsive to the Senator.
      Not impressed however by the Senator’s show of thigh, and would suggest to her crossing her legs below her knees. Actually, who cares when what they are saying is really what counts to me. I support Ms. Kagan, and would like to see her seated on the Supreme Court.

  • B

    Is it me that the 222 comments on the WAPO site just get deleted?

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