Tuesday, November 20, 2007

How do we beat the bitch?

With two months until the 2008 Presidential primaries kicks off, the race is more controversial than ever. There was two planted questions at a Hillary Clinton campaign: Clinton campaign workers approached two audience members and told them to ask Hillary about her plan to fight global warming and how she was standing up to President Bush on the question of funding the Iraq war and a troop withdrawal timeline. Another instance was the arrest of Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu for committing fraud 12 years ago. The newest controversy happened last week and has outraged me the most. On the campaign trail last week, an outspoken woman in the audience asked Senator John McCain, “How do we beat the bitch?” It was obvious to everyone that she was referring to Senator Hillary Clinton. Without hesitation, McCain responded by laughing and remarked “that is a good question.” He then proceeded to answer the question! While this story has been plastered all over the news because of the poor way McCain handled the situation, the important question to ask is: Why is it okay to call a woman candidate a bitch, but if any of the minority candidates, such as Barack Obama, was called a racial slur there would be hell to pay? We as a nation have come a long way in regards to racism. However, we seem to be lagging in the gender equality department. I’m sure society would even be up in arms if someone asked Hillary “how do you beat the bastards?” It is my opinion that a woman candidate should be treated like the other candidates; the use of derogatory terms is unacceptable. It seems while our society has embraced diversity of the 2008 Presidential election and rejected gender equality. Why is this? It is because people believe the Iron Lady myth, which states that women politicians are cold and aggressive. Senator Clinton does not act any differently from any of the male candidates, but maybe that is the problem. Society expects her to be different because she’s a woman. Try spending a half hour with her rather than watching her on TV for a half hour, you will see differently. Until then, it seems the 2008 Presidential race will be a crusade to “beat the bitch.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Myth of the Iron Lady

Attila the Hen, the Old Witch, the Iron Frau. No, these are not fairytale characters. These are actual nicknames of some of the first female leaders around the world. Women leaders are perceived as masculine by both men and women because of the misconception that the only way a woman could last in the political arena was by being tough. Experiments have shown that women are not more ruthless than men who rise to the top, but women leaders are perceived as being more ruthless because of society’s stereotypes about women and leadership. They are either seen as friendly and incompetent or cold and competent. The women who are friendly and incompetent could not possibly be leaders. However, those with leadership potential must be stripped of all their personable traits because it is a man’s world. While both men and women are aggressive, this term is associated with women leaders simply because they are women. This is the argument made by New York Time’s writer Shankar Vedantam in his article “The Myth of the Iron Lady”.

Reading this article made me question my own perceptions about women leaders. While I am all for “girl power”, I realized I have made statements about women leaders, such as Hillary Clinton, in the past that invoke these stereotypes. I remember losing my cool when I had learned that Hillary Clinton had been elected Senator. I thought to myself. “what’s the next step in her quest for world domination, the Presidency?” I also remember my college professor made a joke when my classmates and I were taking our Recent U.S. History final last semester. He said, “whoever comes up with the best nickname for Hillary Clinton will get extra credit. Write it on the last page of your blue books.” It gave us a good laugh and some of us even came up with some witty nicknames (let your imagination run wild) even though we knew we would not be getting the extra credit. I now ask myself “how can I be for girl power yet uphold society’s stereotypes of women?” “I can’t,” I answered myself.

So the next time I see Hillary on TV campaigning for the Presidency, I will think to myself “ I am sure she is a friendly woman; she just appears so cold on TV because she has to prove to the American people that she’s not incompetent and she cannot have her male running mates thinking she is weak. She’s not trying to take over the world. She’s trying to make history. Girl Power!”