Sunday, November 9, 2008

Gender and Politics

Posted by Teresa at 1:17 PM
I was listening to this segment in NPR about Obama's win and they discuss the role
race played in the campaign. However, the most interesting commentary I found in
this piece had nothing at all to do with race but gender. Quote from Trish Callahan:

Callahan: I'm sort of moving on now to gender and politics.
I'm really curious about how we've treated our female
candidates, both Sen. Clinton and Gov. Palin. I was thinking
our next area to move forward on and make progress on is how
we treat women in politics because I do think this represents
some degree of accomplishment with race and politics.

Now that I've had time to reflect some, I must say I am quite disgusted about how
the women candidates were treated in this election, both Hillary Clinton and Sarah
Palin. I think this video made by a Sen. Hillary Clinton supporter during the summer
documents well some of the attacks on her that have misogyny written all over them:



Gov. Palin also received an intense hatred towards her, which is especially odd since
she was new on the scene. I assume President Bush hatred his fueled by his eight year
track record. What was the reasoning by the Palin hatred? Why was the media reporting
about on how much Gov. Palin spent on her wardrobe while President-elect Barack Obama
spent $5.3 million just to have a place to give his nomination speech! Double standards?
As a certain folksy woman politician likes to say, "You betcha!"

Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying that Sen. Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic
nomination because she's a woman. Or that Sen. John McCain lost the presidency
because he picked a woman VP. There were other problems with their candidacies.
I'm in no way denying that. What I am saying is: The women candidates in the 2008
election seemed to make for easy targets. Mainstream media memes appeared to
stick better to the women candidates. For example, Sen. Hillary Clinton was often
portrayed as cold and callous. Gov. Sarah Palin was labeled "Caribou Barbie." So
women have a small needle to thread. They can't be seen as too hard and cold like
Hillary Clinton. They also can't be too folksy and attractive like Gov. Sarah Palin.
It's a balancing act for them.

What I also found the most disconcerting was women were openly participating in
this misogyny. There was a photo posted on Flickr of three people wearing a t-shirt
that said, "Sarah Palin is a c***," that's now not available to view. But two of the people
in the photo were female. Notice that on Twitter that it was mostly women calling
Palin a b****. Women can be vicious to other women.

I think we should all be proud as Americans, that race did not a play a significant
factor in this election. As Americans, however, we should be concerned how women
politicians are being treated because it might represent a larger societal problem.
I fear that Hillary Clinton is over-estimating the amount of cracks in the glass ceiling.

I'll leave you with "If I Were Boy" by Beyonce:

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