Vanity Fair gets savaged for suggesting Hillary Clinton should take up knitting

"Take up a new hobby in the new year," one writer said. "Volunteer work, knitting, improv comedy"

Published December 27, 2017 12:21PM (EST)

Hillary Clinton (Getty/Jamie McCarthy)
Hillary Clinton (Getty/Jamie McCarthy)

Two days before Christmas, The Hive, Vanity Fair's political vertical, published a video of the its staffers sipping Champagne and offering 2018 resolutions for political figures for the upcoming new year. For Hillary Clinton, one staffer opined that she'd do well to leave politics behind, a not-unreasonable idea.

Intended to be biting and funny, writer Maya Kosoff ran aground — and ran afoul of many — when she suggested Clinton, "Take up a new hobby in the new year," with the options being "Volunteer work, knitting, improv comedy ― literally anything that will keep you from running again." It was the suggestion that the former secretary of state take up knitting that aroused ire across Twitter.

Specifically, users took umbrage with the sexist implications of telling a woman what to do and the inclusion of the very gendered imperative to knit. Others felt the video as a whole was unduly dismissive of Clinton's political work beyond running for president, as you can see in the tweets on the next page.

Even one of Clinton's former advisors weighed in.

This suggested New Year's resolution for Clinton was part of a larger series that also saw staffers offering ideas for White House Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and President Donald Trump.

For her part, Kosoff responded to at least some of these critiques on Twitter. "I don’t appreciate being taken out of context to make me seem super sexist," she wrote. "This wasn't a hillary hit piece either, fwiw! we made silly new years resolutions for a bunch of politicians." Kosoff has since switched her account and all her tweets to private.

Kosoff was right in the sense that Clinton has had her shot to lead the national conversation. Her electoral loss, and her actions beyond it, suggest that perhaps her centrist Democratic approach is not sufficiently attractive or productive, particularly at a time when progressive values are under direct attack.
It would also perhaps do liberal America well to resolve to stop treating Clinton as an active politician, to stop looking to her for a comment every time some national crisis takes place. Should that happen, perhaps she'll step back once and for all.
And yet, Kosoff did offer a gendered critique, the kind of thing that one would hope would stop being applied to Clinton come 2018. As another former Clinton advisor said, we've all had enough of that.

By Rachel Leah

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