So the decision by two top Obama staffers to go by names that sound more like twee kittens than the latest SUV models was a departure from the norm. Nancy-Ann DeParle and Alyssa Mastromonaco, who served together as deputy chiefs of staff from 2011-2013, intentionally went for the ultra-feminine when selecting their monikers: Peaches and Popsicle, respectively.
As revealed in “Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing The Way America Works,” the just-out book by Time correspondent Jay Newton-Small, the duo eschewed their male predecessors’ presumably alpha-male-appropriate code names and picked ones that poked the patriarchy. The women “delighted in watching the mostly male, macho Secret Service agents announce the arrival of Popsicle and Peaches,” Newton-Small writes.
Another subtle strike for feminism from the West Wing? Both women kept figurines on their desks of Smurfette, the sole female character on the popular cartoon show who has become a symbol of gender inequality (essayist Katha Pollitt’s “Smurfette Principle” is that “a group of male buddies will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined.”)
“I kept waiting for the guys to say something,” DeParle told Newton-Small. “But no one ever asked.”