Citation: Anderson, Karrin Vasby. “From Spouses to Candidates: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, and the Gendered Office of U.S. President.” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 5.1 (2002): 105-132. Project MUSE.
The year 2000 was a historical year for women in the political sphere; Hillary Rodham Clinton was elected to the United States Senate after having been the First Lady (a first in history), and Elizabeth Dole ran for the Republican nomination for President (she dropped out before the primaries due to lack of funding). Despite the intelligence and vast qualifications of both women, Hillary’s Senatorial run was not plagued by doubts of her competency of leadership due to her gender, but Elizabeth’s was. This article explored how gender stereotypes actually hurt Hillary’s Republican male opponents (Rudolph Guiliani and Rick Lazio), rather than Hillary. It also compared how public perception was much more willing to have a female Senator (Hillary was not the first in that category), than a female President. Hillary’s gender was the public and media’s focus during her tenure as First Lady, however, during her Senatorial campaign, the focus shifted to place, specifically, to why Hillary chose New York as the state to represent, when she had not previously lived in it (she was routinely called a ‘carpetbagger,’ much like she is called ‘crooked’ today, during her campaign for the Presidency). Public perception of Elizabeth Dole on the other hand, was firmly rooted in her femininity, a quality which she played up and really shined (start viewing at 1:25 in) during her husband’s run for the Presidency in 1996. That same perception made people think she was unqualified to be President and that she would answer to her husband (Bob Dole) on all Presidential matters. Even though the political campaigns of both of these women in 2000 made great strides, the Presidency is still seen almost exclusively as a “bastion of masculinity” (Anderson, 1)
From pages 8-15 (or pages 111-118), the article focuses on Hillary, New York as her chosen place, and how her male opponents tried to best her. Pages 16-23 (or pages 119-126) focus on Elizabeth Dole and the challenges she faced because of the representations of her female gender, as well as what any future female candidates have to contend with.
Hillary’s still got a long road to cross, but by winning a major party’s nomination, she has made vast strides. In the last leg of this election in 2016, I think it would be beneficial if Hillary creates opportunities in which her opponent’s sexism really resonates with audiences in a way that no one can deny and simultaneously makes America uncomfortable. Do you think Hillary should play up her opponent’s sexism?
Thanks for reading,
Christina Sandoval (csandy54)