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NPR: Maureen Corrigan reviews Rebecca Traister's new book: BigGirls Don't Cry: the election that changed everything for American women, and details how Traister dissects the cultural narratives that held so much power during the 2008 campaign and elction--the narratives about femininity and the demands of wife- and motherhood, as well as narratives about how women should "play nice" and let the other historically discriminated-against guy go first through the door of the White House.
Traister surveys a changed political landscape in 2008 where women were key players, not only as candidates but also sometimes outspoken spouses of candidates, as well as reporters and pundits. She brings a historically informed perspective to her reading of the cultural curveball that was Sarah Palin and her undoing — at least during the campaign — by the tag team of Tina Fey and Katie Couric, in addition to the sexist criticism lobbed at her even by her fellow conservatives.
But far and away the longest and most eye-opening part of Traister’s book is devoted to Hillary Clinton and her gender misadventures in, as Traister wittily calls it, "Campaigning While Female." Traister charts the attitudinal shifts in the campaign: how Hillary, arguably misguided by her campaign manager, Mark Penn, embraced a stiff-upper-lip "gender free" strategy early in her campaign that ironically ceded the more traditional womanly role of appealing to passions and ideals to Barack Obama, particularly after he was endorsed by the nation’s emoter in chief, Oprah Winfrey."