Book Talk: LOVE HER, LOVE HER NOT: THE HILLARY PARADOX, edited by Joanne C. Bamberger

She Writes Press (November 2015), trade paper (ISBN 1631528068 / 9781631528064)
Nonfiction: politics/essays, 226 pages

 

A version of this review was previously published in Shelf Awareness for Readers (November 24, 2015). Shelf Awareness provided me with a publisher-furnished galley to facilitate the review, and compensated me for the review they received and posted. This post contains affiliate links to Indiebound.



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Love Her Love Her Not Hillary Paradox Joanne Bamberger indiebound
After nearly 30 years in the public eye as attorney, politician, diplomat, and power spouse, Hillary Clinton possesses an ability to incite reactions and inspire opinions equaled by few Americans today. With the 2016 Presidential election still months away and her campaign for the Democratic Party nomination already running at full throttle, the conversation surrounding her is more intense than ever, and the essay collection Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox joins it from a variety of perspectives.

 

Edited by Joanne C. Bamberger, formerly of the political opinion blog PunditMom and founder of the online magazine The Broad Side, Love Her, Love Her Not presents 28 reflections and opinions on Clinton. Bamberger notes that women’s votes have decided nearly all of the Presidential elections of the last three decades, and in accordance with that and her mission to advance political commentary by and among women, all of the contributors are women, representing a wide range of ages, cultural backgrounds, and political beliefs.

 

These essays convey the complexity of the discourse around Hillary Clinton and her campaign. Some are supportive, some are critical; some are objective and analytical, while others are unabashedly personal. Several of the writers ponder the conflict between wanting to support a woman for President and seriously disagreeing with aspects of this particular woman’s record, giving the lie to the belief that women will vote for a woman just because she is one. Love Her, Love Her Not is not a portrait of the candidate, but it presents an enlightening picture of her effect on the electorate; while no consensus emerges, it’s a valuable contribution to the conversation that will surely occupy the months ahead.
 
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“Hillary Clinton’s name is on everyone’s lips as we head into the 2016 presidential election. But as we know from the 2008 presidential campaign, and its outcome, Clinton evokes extreme and varied emotions among voters in a way no other candidate in recent memory has. But why?

Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox delves into the nuances of our complicated feelings about one of the most powerful women ever in American politics. In this timely collection, editor Joanne Bamberger gathers a unique and diverse group of writers of all ages, walks of life, and political affiliations, while also providing the narrative framework through which to view the history that’s led us to this moment in time—the moment when voters must decide whether they can forgive Hillary Clinton for not being the perfect candidate or the perfect woman and finally elect our first woman president. Timely and fresh, Love Her, Love Her Not will provoke new conversations and push political and cultural dialogue in the US to a new level.”

From Joanne C. Bamberger’s essay, “I Don’t Need Hillary Clinton to be Perfect,” included in Love Her, Love Her Not and excerpted at The Broad Side:

“I confess that in 2008 I didn’t think we were a country that was ready for a woman president. Oh, how I wanted us to be! The 1970s feminist in me – the one who was schooled about uber-conservative Phyllis Schlafly’s political efforts to keep women in the home, the possibility of an Equal Rights Amendment, and the ‘women’s lib’ expectations that I would, of course, see a woman president in my lifetime – assumed that in the twenty-first century things finally were changing. In 2008, how could it not be time for the United States finally to join that club?

“While polls showed that America was statistically on board with the idea of a woman president eight years ago, the worry in my gut knew that women like Hillary often weren’t taken seriously in the world of old (and new) boys’ networks and that there were still too many gendered ideas about how women should be that held us all back, Hillary included, from what we could be. Sadly, my gut correctly predicted that the 2008 election cycle wasn’t going to be the Year of the Woman President in America; it took me longer to figure out why.

“Hillary fell short because she wasn’t perfect.”

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