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Diplomacy by brooch
October 15, 2009 11:32 PM   Subscribe

In her new book, Read My Pins, Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright reflects on choosing jewelry as a means of sending diplomatic messages.
posted by paulsc (38 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wonder what message her brooch was sending to the civilians of Iraq when she discussed the hard choice of letting half a million children die as a result of U.S. sanctions in the '90s.
posted by scody at 11:48 PM on October 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


I wonder what message her brooch was sending to the civilians of Iraq when she discussed the hard choice of letting half a million children die as a result of U.S. sanctions in the '90s.

"You cannot afford this broach"
posted by mattoxic at 12:05 AM on October 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


For those in the NY area, her collection is on show at the MAD museum through the new year:

http://collections.madmuseum.org/code/emuseum.asp?emu_action=advsearch&rawsearch=exhibitionid/,/is/,/498/,/true/,/false&profile=exhibitions
posted by jba at 12:16 AM on October 16, 2009


How junior high is this.
posted by phrontist at 12:25 AM on October 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


I like the idea of this, but not the fact of it.

In a Terry Pratchett Novel this would be a major plot device, in reality it just makes her seem earth-motherish and silly.

On the other hand, I own a large number of tee shirts that have clever things on them, and actually get compliments regularly. Perhaps we are all trying to communicate in similarly ineffectual ways.
posted by poe at 12:29 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Previous Finnish foreign minister also liked to wear one subtle pin through all his diplomatic career.
posted by Free word order! at 12:48 AM on October 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Whereas, when asked what to make of a diplomatic crisis, Warren Christopher always went with either the hat or the pterodactyl.
posted by condour75 at 12:49 AM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Because our Secretary of State should be communicating diplomatic messages through her accessories and not her mouth.
posted by tinatiga at 12:55 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Whereas, when asked what to make of a diplomatic crisis, Warren Christopher always went with either the hat or the pterodactyl."
posted by condour75 at 3:49 AM on October 16

And it probably cost him less to do so, than it must have cost Allen Dulles, one time head of the CIA and brother of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, to keep his (Allen's) wife in fashionable jewelry, occasionally observed by the diplomatic community:
"... Allen was a womanizer. When his wife first discovered this, she coolly went to Cartier and charged a large emerald to his account. It was her "compensation," she told Allen, and every time he strayed he would pay a similar price. Mosley does not record how large Mrs. Dulles' jewelry collection became, though Sister Eleanor guesses that "there were at least a hundred women in love with Allen at one time or another." ..."
posted by paulsc at 1:05 AM on October 16, 2009


God, this is depressing. If Kissinger wrote some cutesy book about how the color of his neckties communicated all of his complicated feelings about whatever nefarious meeting? It'd be embarrassing and misdirecting.

We get Albright saying, "Watch me prove how I can still be a nice lady even if I have some power! Even though then my pretty pins started poking lots of holes in my jackets. OMG I was a little embarrassed."

And the symbols are so head-slappingly obvious. I'm sure Arafat was terrified speechless seeing that mean little golden honeybee. He probably took off the keffiyeh right there and handed it to her, declaring Albright the Empress of Political Fashion.
posted by lauranesson at 1:13 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


All the guys treated Madeleine with respect. But they never gave her a secret decoder ring.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:26 AM on October 16, 2009


Hillary should abandon text and speech entirely, and communicate all her policy positions through fashion. Let's see those fuddy-duddies on 'Macneil-Lehrer' trying to work out what message Mrs. Clinton's jet-beaded lycra bodystocking and ostrich feather head-dress are supposed to be sending to Hu Jintao.

This book is destined to be a camp classic. I hope John Waters pre-ordered a copy.
posted by eatyourcellphone at 1:48 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"After a meeting on Iraq, 'a gaggle of journalists' saw Ms. Albright sporting a menacing gold snake pin. When asked why, she answered, 'because Saddam Hussein called me a serpent.' "

They started it.

She's always going to get this kind of attention (see: Hilary's hair), why not use it to her advantage? She's obviously a smart woman and communicated with, you know, her words. I'm quite sure that this was not the extent of her diplomacy.
posted by kathrineg at 2:44 AM on October 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


See also Hazel Blears' subtle message.
posted by fire&wings at 2:48 AM on October 16, 2009


The whole issue of self-defense jewellery deserves at least a dozen front page posts.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:59 AM on October 16, 2009


She's obviously a smart woman and communicated with, you know, her words. I'm quite sure that this was not the extent of her diplomacy.
You sure about that? The books one publishes after services are pretty important to one's legacy--she (or her handlers) should know that. Maybe this is just all she's got. Things are starting to make a little more sense now. Maybe if she had actually jabbed them with the pin after Cole...
posted by njbradburn at 3:33 AM on October 16, 2009


The books one publishes after services are pretty important to one's legacy...

I believe this is her fourth book after her service. The others are rather more serious. She's a witty and engaging writer, and kind of a smart-ass, so this is probably worth reading.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 3:43 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I saw this on Sunday Morning a few weeks ago, and thought it was pretty cool. Surprised by the negativity so far in this thread.
posted by jbickers at 4:16 AM on October 16, 2009


Because our Secretary of State should be communicating diplomatic messages through her accessories and not her mouth.

Well, it worked splendidly for Putin, dangling his crucifix at Bush.
posted by Anything at 4:17 AM on October 16, 2009


In a Terry Pratchett Novel this would be a major plot device, in reality it just makes her seem earth-motherish and silly.


To be fair, in a Practchett book, they would be magical pins with the power to change reality itself and as far as I know, only two of Ms. Albright's pins are enchanted.

(The little pearl pin and the 12-inch flaming skull of Klag Kordor The Litch King of Harrennor. She doesn't wear that one very often.)
posted by The Whelk at 4:18 AM on October 16, 2009


jbickers, I, too am a little surprised at the level of snark here. My wife just bought the book and since I had heard about it on NPR I glanced through it and it is actually pretty interesting. She mentions both in the book and in her interviews that men do the same thing, too, with ties and cufflinks and so on. And some of the stories are good; I liked this one:

I also have a newer, very strong attachment to a pin that was given to me in New Orleans in 2006 after Katrina. A young man came up to me and said, "My father is a veteran and my mother died as a result of Katrina. I know that she would have wanted you to have this pin." It was a brooch with two amethysts that his father had given his mother for their 50th anniversary, representing the two Purple Hearts he received in World War II. At first, I said I couldn't accept it, but he insisted. It's an honor for me to wear that pin. (via) Some dismiss jewelry as trivial, but I thought that story (it is told better in the book) was moving.
posted by TedW at 4:49 AM on October 16, 2009


Hillary should abandon text and speech entirely, and communicate all her policy positions through fashion.

Actually, I noticed while watching BBC News the other night that Mrs. Clinton was wearing a huge scarab-like pin (blue, I think it was) at one event during her recent visit to Russia -- and immediately thought of Madeleine Albright. I had no idea Albright was coming out with a book about her brooch diplomacy, though. I hope that Clinton's brooch-wearing is not a trend.
posted by blucevalo at 5:00 AM on October 16, 2009


I like to send subtle signals by the underwear I choose. There I am, wearing some really remarkable underwear, sending just villainous, murderous messages, with my underwear mocking, mocking, mocking, and it's right in their face, under my clothes, and most people don't get it, because they're not that bright, and because when I show them my underwear, I get arrested, so I don't.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:09 AM on October 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Around here, we call that passive agresssive.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:16 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


This pin says "I love you".
posted by LakesideOrion at 5:38 AM on October 16, 2009


I, too am a little surprised at the level of snark here.

Has to do with what went on during her watch. Cheeky is not a good public tone for someone who has held that particular job at that particular time.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:05 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


What a pinhead. Anything published by this person should be steeped in contrition and be an attempt to make sense out of all the catastrophes that went down in her tenure. Cutesy horeshit belies a dead conscience.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:26 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


[few comments removed - this went bad pretty much out of the gate. please discuss albright without fantasizing about her gorey death, thank you]
posted by jessamyn at 6:56 AM on October 16, 2009


["men r dumb!" "no u!" derail removed. (On preview: removed as well.)]
posted by cortex at 7:00 AM on October 16, 2009


I heard an interview with her about this on NPR, and I thought it one of the most vapid things I've ever heard. Fashion and diplomacy is not an unimportant or uninteresting topic -- but her presentation of it was just so cutesy that I cringed.
posted by Forktine at 7:20 AM on October 16, 2009


I think this is clever and kinda sweet. Women are expected to accessorize as part of professional attire - it seems like their deeper meanings were probably less obvious at the time than they might seem now.
posted by lunit at 7:22 AM on October 16, 2009


I know you all are thinking this is a joke, but when I interviewed top NZ VIPs, I made sure not to wear the wrong color tie to the wrong political party. The Nationals got a blue tie. Labour got a red tie. ACT got a yellow tie, and the Green Party got no tie (but I was still wearing the blazer.)

It's stupid, but it actually helps people think: "I don't have an agenda - or if I do have an agenda, it's on your side."
posted by BrianBoyko at 9:25 AM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jesus, who pissed in Metafilter's wheaties this morning? I think you're all just upset because I was right about the kind of vague fucked-upness of Balloon Boy's dad and that being largely the cause of the whole thing.
posted by Naberius at 9:51 AM on October 16, 2009


I think it's brilliant and subtle.

Because our Secretary of State should be communicating diplomatic messages through her accessories and not her mouth.

It's a tricky business, this diplomacy thing. You can't always be honest with each other. Often you are representing your nation's interests including hidden agendas. And there are things that often just can't be said, such as, "These talks are going nowhere," or "We think you're lying."
posted by dhartung at 10:03 AM on October 16, 2009


You know, I heard the interview on NPR and did think it was a little overly-cutesy, but then I thought, here's a woman in a position of political power, where the media and male-powers-that-be are constantly using her femaleness as a weapon against her, so she turns around and takes one of the very few privileges femininity affords her (accessorizing) and uses it to give them all the finger.

Good for her.
posted by philotes at 10:25 AM on October 16, 2009


I can't afford brooches, and so I do much the same thing with my nipples. For example, when I'm angry, I wear a very thin shirt and leave off my vest, so that people can see my nipples standing up all proud and angry like two battleships. When I'm feeling conciliatory, I keep them well covered so as not to attract any attention. When I'm attempting to seduce my opponent towards my point of view, I wear my piercings and let them show through the plunging neckline of a shirt that's unbuttoned to the waist.

I'm in the process of writing a book about this sartorial/diplomatic technique, that I'm calling 'Read My Nips'. Interested publishers should MeMail me with offers.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:42 AM on October 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


And people say Americans are ridiculous...
posted by joe defroster at 12:31 PM on October 16, 2009


I am a jewelry whore, but I usually don't wear pins (forget to take them off). This makes me want to take them up again.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:11 PM on October 16, 2009


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