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Rachel Maddow, reluctant sex symbol
Salon ^ | Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2009 | Judy Berman

Posted on 03/01/2009 3:46:20 PM PST by presidio9

Why do we -- men and women, gay and straight -- find Rachel Maddow sexy? Daphne Merkin's "Butch Fatale" about the newly minted MSNBC icon, hidden among the overpriced handbag porn and fluffy profiles of last weekend's New York Times T style magazine, is more complicated than it appears.

As Merkin writes, it isn't often that mainstream culture celebrates the attractiveness of butch lesbians. Sure, we admire femmes like Portia de Rossi and Lindsay Lohan. But for the most part, lesbians who wear suits, cut their hair short or otherwise don't conform to traditional standards of beauty -- the Ellen DeGenereses and Rosie O'Donnells of the world -- have to remain culturally neutered in order to participate in public life. Though we find classic representations of gay male beauty in the films of Luchino Visconti and the writings of Oscar Wilde and Thomas Mann, says Merkin, "It's much harder to envision a lesbian icon without coming up against Fran Lebowitz, looking surly and bored."

The problem with lesbian archetypes, according to Merkin, is that "both categories -- butch and femme -- borrow from gender-influenced dichotomies of beauty." And this is where Rachel Maddow, supposedly, is a revelation. "She may not be one of Hefner's Girls Next Door, exactly, but she is no bare-faced, unstylish dyke either, however she chooses to characterize herself," says Merkin, going on to coo over the way Maddow combines a light dusting of makeup with "Poindexter glasses, Jil Sander pantsuits and Converse sneakers" and concludes that "she's willing to prettify her image sufficiently to endear her to male viewers."

Here's where I disagree with Merkin: I don't think Maddow's TV appearance is particularly calculated to attract male viewers. The makeover doesn't seem like a ploy to sex up Maddow; rather, it's a concession to appearing on television, where everyone has to wear makeup and dress like a professional. According to a New York magazine profile, Maddow's partner, Susan Mikula, is responsible for her wearing makeup: "Without it, 'she looked like a dead person,'" Mikula said. And as for the designer suits, it's not as if MSNBC was going to let Maddow -- or Keith Olbermann or Chris Matthews, for that matter -- go on the air in a ratty button-down and carpenter jeans. Meanwhile, Maddow makes no effort to hide her casual, butch off-screen appearance, either. In this pre-New Year's video, also for New York magazine, a bare-faced, hoodie-clad Maddow gives a lesson in mixology.

It's true that while the butch-femme dichotomy has already broken down among many younger lesbians -- I'm hard-pressed to categorize any of my mid-20s lesbian friends as either -- Maddow is still a butch in my book (and her own). And besides, I think Merkin misses something major about what makes Maddow sexy: the nerdiness! From the "Poindexter glasses" to the Oxford Ph.D. to her perfectly crafted sarcasm, Maddow is as geek-chic as she is lesbian-chic.

Unlike Merkin, I believe Maddow when she says "she has no interest in the issue of physical appearance -- her own or anyone else's." And as much as I would love her to herald a new age of lesbian beauty, it seems to me that viewers respond more to Maddow's non-physical qualities -- intelligence, charm and, above all, authenticity -- than to her looks. But I'm interested to hear Broadsheet readers' take, too. What do you think makes Rachel Maddow sexy?


TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: androgeny; culturewar; downourthroats; homosexualagenda; inourfaces; itspat; liberalnonsense; liberalturnons; megabarfalert; merkin; msnbc; pravdamedia; rachelmaddow; thatsamanbaby
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1 posted on 03/01/2009 3:46:20 PM PST by presidio9
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To: presidio9
Reluctant? Snort.

WAY TO SKIRT THE ISSUE

2 posted on 03/01/2009 3:47:42 PM PST by mewzilla (In politics the middle way is none at all. John Adams)
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To: presidio9

Looks like a dyke to me.


3 posted on 03/01/2009 3:48:07 PM PST by randog (Tap into America!)
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To: presidio9
What do you think makes Rachel Maddow sexy?

Your obvious sexual confusion.

4 posted on 03/01/2009 3:48:13 PM PST by riri
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To: presidio9
Teen-age boy “masculine” is how she looks to me.
5 posted on 03/01/2009 3:48:35 PM PST by ConservativeMind (Who is now in charge of the "Office of the President-Elect"?)
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To: presidio9

So, we’re supposed to find that guy in that pic sexy?


6 posted on 03/01/2009 3:48:41 PM PST by SlapHappyPappy
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To: presidio9

Thanks, I needed a good laugh.


7 posted on 03/01/2009 3:48:51 PM PST by popdonnelly (When journalism meant something, Olbermann wouldn't have been allowed near a microphone.)
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To: presidio9

She’d be a lot more “sexy” if that gray T-shirt had a cigarette pack pocket. LOL!


8 posted on 03/01/2009 3:49:06 PM PST by FlingWingFlyer (Just being a "U.S. citizen" does not make one an American.)
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To: presidio9

From the picture I couldn’t tell if it was a gay man or a gay woman. Doesn’t matter I suppose. They are sexless anyway.


9 posted on 03/01/2009 3:49:22 PM PST by libh8er
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To: presidio9
Shouldn't this come with a massive barf alert? That's a MAN baby!


10 posted on 03/01/2009 3:49:32 PM PST by lewisglad
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To: presidio9
wanda
11 posted on 03/01/2009 3:50:21 PM PST by JHBowden (Keep the Change!)
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To: presidio9

Lesbianism: It’s the new black!


12 posted on 03/01/2009 3:50:25 PM PST by dr_who
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To: presidio9

Is Salon sure they got her last name correct? I always thought is was something like Madcow or Mancow.


13 posted on 03/01/2009 3:50:48 PM PST by Sergeant Tim (In the War on Terror, there is no place to run from here.)
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To: presidio9

I don’t find Rachel Maddow interesting in any way, shape or form. Which explains why she’s the subject of a Salon article.


14 posted on 03/01/2009 3:50:50 PM PST by popdonnelly (When journalism meant something, Olbermann wouldn't have been allowed near a microphone.)
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To: presidio9
Is it a boy or a girl?

I honestly can not tell. And personally I find that creepy.

15 posted on 03/01/2009 3:50:57 PM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear (Faith Manages.)
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To: presidio9

This needs a mega-barf alert.


16 posted on 03/01/2009 3:51:02 PM PST by rdl6989
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To: presidio9

17 posted on 03/01/2009 3:51:14 PM PST by babubabu
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To: presidio9

“What do you think makes Rachel Maddow sexy?”

She is keeping fully clothed and I don’t EVER look at her?


18 posted on 03/01/2009 3:51:18 PM PST by jessduntno (" We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system..." - Adolph Hitler)
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To: presidio9

Sexy????? Maybe if I were a lesbian.


19 posted on 03/01/2009 3:51:22 PM PST by from occupied ga (Your most dangerous enemy is your own government,)
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To: presidio9

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipZDG6__Zfc


20 posted on 03/01/2009 3:51:28 PM PST by GOP_Lady
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To: presidio9

Totally ruined mine and hubbys buzz tonight. She is about as sexy as a pile of sh!t.


21 posted on 03/01/2009 3:52:00 PM PST by AirForceMom (Locked and loaded, and sharpening my pitchfork.)
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To: JHBowden

lol


22 posted on 03/01/2009 3:52:09 PM PST by babubabu
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To: presidio9

My eyes! My eyes! Where was the BARF alert??


23 posted on 03/01/2009 3:52:18 PM PST by originalbuckeye
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To: dr_who
looks like Maddow is into fat chicks.


24 posted on 03/01/2009 3:53:08 PM PST by lewisglad
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To: from occupied ga

Sexy????? Maybe if I were a lesbian.

That would turn someone straight hopefully.


25 posted on 03/01/2009 3:53:23 PM PST by AirForceMom (Locked and loaded, and sharpening my pitchfork.)
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To: presidio9

"That's a man, baybeee!"


26 posted on 03/01/2009 3:53:26 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: from occupied ga

no. maybe if you were some hermaphrodite polymorph


27 posted on 03/01/2009 3:54:03 PM PST by babubabu
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To: presidio9

my question has always been, Where did they find the dude who follow Olberdork???

Sexy? Ummm.....not to somebody who likes women. Typically, women have those nice things that require bras. And they also tend to sound and act like women which is what makes them so attractive. I don’t detect any of those things in this dude.


28 posted on 03/01/2009 3:54:07 PM PST by bpjam (Tell your Rep/Senator to Google: Marjorie Mezvinsky. Yes, it IS a threat.)
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To: presidio9

Hmm, I'm not getting any readings on the Schwing-o-Meter here.

29 posted on 03/01/2009 3:55:08 PM PST by DemforBush (Somebody wake me when sanity has returned to the nation.)
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To: presidio9

LOL


30 posted on 03/01/2009 3:55:53 PM PST by freekitty (Give me back my conservative vote.)
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To: presidio9
Why do we -- men and women, gay and straight -- find Rachel Maddow sexy?

In any good dictionary you will find that definition right next to the word WTF.

31 posted on 03/01/2009 3:55:57 PM PST by Tribune7 (Obama wants to put the same crowd that ran Fannie Mae in charge of health care)
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To: presidio9
The Lady looks like a dude...


32 posted on 03/01/2009 3:56:00 PM PST by darkwing104 (Lets get dangerous)
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To: presidio9
“...it isn't often that mainstream culture celebrates the attractiveness of butch lesbians...” Um, there's a very good reason for that: chopped-off hair, a hint of a mustache, and rolls of fat are not attractive on a woman.
33 posted on 03/01/2009 3:56:06 PM PST by utahagen
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To: babubabu
whatever it is I definitely wouldn't hit it under ANY circumstances

I doubt even Slick Willie would hit it.

34 posted on 03/01/2009 3:56:53 PM PST by from occupied ga (Your most dangerous enemy is your own government,)
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To: presidio9

PLEASE. MAKE. IT. STOP.


35 posted on 03/01/2009 3:56:56 PM PST by magellan
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To: lewisglad

I don’t care if she’s in to Swedish bikini models.


36 posted on 03/01/2009 3:57:07 PM PST by dr_who
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To: Revolting cat!

I knew a Holstein steer quite well while growing up on a farm in New England.

His name was Ed.

Ed like to hump everything, even the rear wheels on the parked Farmall H.

Ed would run from this bhitch.


37 posted on 03/01/2009 3:57:16 PM PST by chambley1
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To: presidio9
not...
38 posted on 03/01/2009 3:57:26 PM PST by Chode (American Hedonist - Dear Mr.President, Please make it rain candy!)
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To: presidio9

Salon is blind.


39 posted on 03/01/2009 3:57:40 PM PST by anniegetyourgun
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To: presidio9

Um...

That’s a dude?

No wait, that’s a..

No...

It’s a..

What the hell is it?


40 posted on 03/01/2009 3:58:07 PM PST by ejonesie22 (Stupidity has an expiration date 1-20-2013 *(Thanks Nana))
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To: presidio9
Why do we -- men and women, gay and straight -- find Rachel Maddow sexy?

We don't but you MSM media types find it necessary to bring it up and make it an issue.........

41 posted on 03/01/2009 3:58:15 PM PST by Hot Tabasco (Welcome to Detroit, the Renaissance city......)
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To: presidio9

He looks like this dude i went to school with in 8th grade.


42 posted on 03/01/2009 3:58:42 PM PST by mowowie
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To: utahagen

If more women looked like that it would save the planet!

(because nobody would be #$#@^&ing


43 posted on 03/01/2009 3:58:47 PM PST by gthog61
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To: from occupied ga

This is a question for people with phds in biology. not freepers


44 posted on 03/01/2009 3:59:24 PM PST by babubabu
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To: presidio9

The photo does not identify the person. Is the person a teen age boy, or an undeveloped girl?

If it is Rachel Maddow she most certainly is NOT a sex symbol. How in the world would anyone conclude that?


45 posted on 03/01/2009 3:59:59 PM PST by olezip
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To: presidio9

Barf Alert


46 posted on 03/01/2009 3:59:59 PM PST by mylife (bh)
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To: presidio9

She looks a little like Sean Hannity there.


47 posted on 03/01/2009 4:00:35 PM PST by wideminded
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To: randog

She looks like a 20 something guy.


48 posted on 03/01/2009 4:00:38 PM PST by omega4179 (I hope he fails)
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To: JHBowden

LMAO!


49 posted on 03/01/2009 4:00:44 PM PST by Dahoser (America's great untapped alternative energy source: The Founding Fathers spinning in their graves.)
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To: presidio9
Just had to post. laughed out loud at the first sight of her photo. It was so expected, so Butch it just made me laugh.
50 posted on 03/01/2009 4:00:56 PM PST by TCats
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