Citation: Edwards, Janis L. “The 2008 Gendered Campaign and the Problem with ‘Hillary Studies.’” Rhetoric and Public Affairs 14.1 (2011): 155-167. Project MUSE. Web. 11 Oct. 2016.
Opening with a discussion on the problematic use of the phrase “Year of the Woman,” Janis L. Edwards challenges the idea that women in politics are a sporadic and noteworthy event. “Year of the Woman” demeans the many years of women in high powered roles, of accomplishments and achievements made by various women in various positions across the globe. And yet, what the slogan implies is that the only way in which women’s contributions to politics will be recognized is if a woman wins the presidency.
Through the close analysis and review of four books on Hillary Rodham Clinton, Edwards focuses her article on the relationship between gender and political communication. Hillary Clinton’s rhetorical style is examined through familiar gendered terms; her “masculine” style is contrasted with her husband’s “feminine” style; we are reminded of her favoring a more pragmatic approach to debate, a style which is juxtaposed with Obama’s more inspirational and idealistic rhetoric.
In Edward’s reviews, the issue of Clinton’s public persona is considered a barrier to drawing conclusions about her role in and the direction of women in politics. I find this to be a particularly interesting context to consider in the midst of a presidential debate that itself tends to sideline the importance and reality of Mrs. Clinton’s gender. I was interested in this article in particular because it refocused the lens of Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy back to the role of gender. And furthermore, in the context of a class on rhetoric, it is interesting to consider the larger rhetorical community’s dealings and conversations about women in politics.
I finished my reading of this article with several thoughts and questions floating around in my head: can the study of gendered politics inform our understanding of voter knowledge and analysis of voting patterns? How has the rhetoric surrounding Mrs. Clinton’s various campaigns and political positions shaped our discussions about her now? Will Mrs. Clinton’s potential presidential victory reopen (or revitalize) the dialogue about women in politics? What will this dialogue look like? I keep returning to this tired notion of the “Year of Women,” asking myself the following: when will the contributions of women in politics become common knowledge, an accepted fact understood through an historic lens?