Michelle Cottle and Amanda Fortini have a very perceptive conversation about Hillary Clinton, misogyny, and the unlikelihood that we'll see a woman president any time soon:
Cottle: The thing that I worry about is that Clinton had certain advantages because of her celebrity that helped her to overcome certain other things--the charisma issue in particular. There are charismatic women, but when you're talking about "presidential charisma," or projecting both strength and warmth, overwhelmingly the people who tend to possess this are men. And Clinton didn't have this, but she made up for it by the fact that she was kind of a rock star in the party, if for no other reason than because of her husband.
Fortini: I worry about that as well. Even if we had a female candidate who had this ineffable, intangible charisma, I think it would be perceived very differently than it would be in a man. When you think about the kind of ease with which Barack Obama conducts himself, I don't know if it would be received as well if he were a woman. The "I want to have a beer with him" factor that we look for in our male candidates--I don't think we necessarily want that from a woman. I don't think we know what we want from our female candidates, frankly.
Cottle: Right. Nancy Pelosi got to be speaker of the House not because she had to work over the entire country--she had to work a specific group of colleagues to get elected, and that requires a different kind of skill set than pitching yourself to millions of Americans. She did not have to win a popular election. It's the same thing with Margaret Thatcher--it was a parliamentary system. Margaret Thatcher didn't have to be broadly appealing in order to get her first shot as Prime Minister. It's not the same system, and it's not the same skill set. That's what's disappointing and disheartening for me.
I touched on this in a January Op-Ed. The strength/warmth trade-off Cottle mentions is crippling, though Clinton had a ready crutch in her husband's name. I don't think Clinton lost merely because of that trade-off; she has run a sad, distasteful campaign and steadily distanced herself from anything likable about her husband. But Clinton's failures don't change the gendered dynamics that existed before her and will persist after her. The boundaries of socially advantageous female behavior are still just as narrow.
The whole back-and-forth is excellent and worth a read.