Jenny Sanford: "The Savviest Spurned Wife In History."

Illustration for article titled Jenny Sanford: "The Savviest Spurned Wife In History."

Is Jenny Sanford - the one-time financial whiz who's turned humiliation into a book, a patent and a Baba-nod - a new paradigm for political spouses, or simply a woman doing what "lots of women" do? Both sides:

Time's Belinda Luscombe says, "The cheated-upon spouses of the world have a new hero and her name is Jenny Sanford."


The Washington Post's Philip Rucker says,

Sanford's reaction to her husband's infidelity purposefully did not follow the post-disclosure postures of Hillary Clinton, Silda Spitzer or Elizabeth Edwards. She emerged as a standard-bearer in the year when CBS debuted "The Good Wife," a prime-time drama about a cheating politician's spouse who rebounds professionally, rising after his downfall. Sanford blazed a path for an aggrieved spouse of a philandering politician and made herself an unlikely heroine — a role model, albeit in unwelcome circumstances.

Barbara Walters says,

"She was a new kind of woman and, as it turns out, she struck a chord. We have had a year of wives standing tight-lipped and unhappy next to their husbands. . . . A lot of women related to her, and she behaved in a very different way. She wasn't a victim. She was independent and true to herself."

Vogue says, "Petite, clear-eyed, strong-willed, pious without being smug, smart without being caustic, Jenny Sanford became an unlikely heroine by telling the simple truth."

The Daily Beast's Phoebe Connelly says,

The news that Sanford is leaving her national punchline of a husband, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, is no reason to hail her as a feminist icon. Being cheated on does not grant a woman an all-access pass to the feminist club. Nor does it do feminism much credit to claim heroines based on how they handle their husband's infidelities....It's troubling to think that in a year when we have seen feminist issues like reproductive rights take center stage in Congress, had a self-identified feminist appointed secretary of State, and watched women lead the resistance movement in Iran, we'd pick a feminist icon for the simple fact that she left a bad marriage. Lots of women do that.


We say: Sadly, both are true: Sanford can behave with basic self-respect, and do something women do everyday, and still elevate the image of the much-maligned political wife. Let's just not let this - composure, dignity and business acumen while we're at it - be the heights to which all others will aspire - but the basic baseline.

Jenny Sanford Is Not A Feminist Icon [Daily Beast]

Jenny Sanford, Hiking The High Road [Washington Post]
The Longest Year [Washington Post]
Notes On A Scandal [Vogue]
Jenny Sanford: The Savviest Spurned Wife In History [Time]


West of House

I am going to have to come out against using the word "petite" in any magazine profile of any woman anywhere. It's almost always used in this narrative of "ooo, look at this little woman who should be inconsequential. But she runs a company/plays sports/left her husband! Wow!"

Well, okay, maybe it can stay in those gushing celebrity profiles where we kind of expect a detailed description of someone's appearance. But please, media, quit acting surprised when a short woman does something. We're just like you, we just have to hem our pants.