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October 14, 2010

Your Turn: McMahon, Gender Politics (and More?)

Jessica Hill / AP
Jessica Hill / AP

Having used all the ink/pixels they are going to spill/spend on the eccentricities of GOP insurgents (a victory in itself for the novice extremists), the NYT featured this photo this morning on the home page and Politics page of World Wrestling mogul, Linda McMahon.  Apparently, the candidate is having trouble connecting with women.

How much of the problem do you see in the photo, what exactly is the message given the shopper on the right, and, how responsible is it to focus strictly on gender politics with a photo shot in a Spanish supermarket?

Times article: Female Candidate Finds Tough Audience: Women

(NYT caption: Linda McMahon toured a Spanish supermarket in New Haven, Conn., in September. AP caption: In this Sept. 23, 2010 photo, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon tours a Spanish supermarket in New Haven, Conn. This election season, McMahon and other wealthy newcomers _ such as Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO and the Republican candidate for governor in California, and Rick Scott, Florida’s Republican gubernatorial candidate and former head of Columbia/HCA health care company, have spent millions on consultants who handle everything from television and direct mail advertising to advice on economic policy.)

  • boomerangst

    LM: Oh, good, a dumpy, poor Mexican-looking woman, she probably can’t speak English and isn’t even a citizen, I can’t believe she’s ever voted. Smile, bitch, so I can get out of here.

    Shopper: Oh, good, a stupid rich white woman wanting to sell me something. Get away from me, bitch.

    Why doesn’t LM just hand the woman a couple of hundred bucks and tell her a car will pick her up and take her to the poll where she can mark the ballot for Linda McMahon? And then when she comes out of the poll she’ll get another couple hundred for nice total of $500. I’m so sick of US politics, I’d take money to vote for someone, anyone.

  • Marie

    First of all, I am distracted by the aggressive cut of that blouse which emphasizes the candidate’s shoulders. What consultant told her that would be a good idea? (shaking head)
    Once I get past the blouse, this image speaks to me more of “class” politics more than gender. LM is smiling at the Hispanic woman, but she’s not holding out her hand to greet her, or even appearing to be slowing down. I’m getting an especially negative vibe off the smiling woman in the back of the image – she appears to be laughing at the shopper, never a good thing. Is it any wonder the shopper seems to be looking past LM? Or perhaps she too is distracted by the blouse. She may be thinking, “This woman has nothing to do with me.”

    • Karen H.

      I always wonder if the exact capture is an accident of the camera or if the photograph reflects some reality. How do you not notice a woman with a photographer following her around?

      I think you’re right…”this woman has nothing to do with me” about hits it.

  • Enoch Root

    It’s not a Spanish supermarket, unless the supermarket is in Spain.

  • http://agrippinaminor.com/scarabus/ Wayne Dickson

    Context matters. The expression on the face of each woman is patent. The question is who or what the expression is directed toward.

    For example, does the apparently Hispanic woman know whom she’s looking at? Is she reacting to Meg Whitman the individual? To a patronizing woman starring in some professionally lighted TV gig?

  • lq

    I’m not Hispanic, but I remember having three little kids (in their 40’s now), and how if I got to go to the grocery store alone, it was MY time. I usually had to get home fast, and I would be dressed like the shopper in the photo, and have the same singleness of purpose. If someone came toward me wearing that vapid look, I sure wouldn’t spend my precious time on her. As for the grinning goof in the background – I figure she’s part of the entourage and is excited that her boss is ‘meeting the common folks’ and it’s a photo opportunity.

  • g

    The two women in the background appear to be aides or handlers, yes? They have a forced delightedness on their faces, as if trying to convey to the Latina shopper just how lucky she is to meet The Candidate.

    McMahon’s height and the upper body bulk of her outfit (great catch, Marie) overwhelm the shopper. It’s mostly a coincidence of the timing, but McMahon appears to be leading in, while the shopper seems to be pulling back, her arm as though bracing the cart between herself and the aggressor.

    McMahon’s gaze is down, the shoppers gaze doesn’t go up to meet hers, but stays at her own height level.

    You know, in a supermarket you expect people to have a cart or a basket. if someone walked up to you without either, you would wonder what they want with you. Are they store officials? Are they trying to sell you something? What are they there for?

    McMahon doesn’t seem to know what to do with her hands. She is out of place and looks like she feels it. I wonder how much of her own shopping she actually does, in fact.

  • Vvoter

    Both women sense class disparity, bun only the shopper wonders if she’s in trouble. (LM clearly knows she’s in trouble).

    Or, the shopper is really thinking hard about bananas, peaches, and tomatoes, and doesn’t notice LM.

    Or, unlike LM, the shopper’s grocery store experience is dominated by financial strain, restricting her line of sight to only the affordable items.

    Many in the working and middle class are preoccupied with the challenges of staying afloat. They have a shorter list of affordable items, and politics just seem like a bunch of rich slimebags coming at us and doing the same old shit.

  • Stella

    I don’t believe the NYT is doing McMahon a favor by publishing this photo. Any viewer with even a shred of empathy has to be cringing.

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