Within the sphere of politics exist several divides, such as the gender gap annapearlman12 writes of, as well as a relatability [or lack thereof] of a politician to audiences, as BrieDanielle’s article on Brandon Stanton’s interview of Hillary Clinton for Humans of New York explores. Both these articles, as well as benmizel’s Bernie Bros, Ciaobellalou’s Cable News and sexism, my own Switching Sides article, rgelmosner’s study of the 2008 Gendered Campaign and BrieDanielle’s How Small Are Your Hands articles all focus on the inherent sexism of women in the public sphere – how they are perceived almost entirely based on how they look [or what’s missing from the presentation], or what they do or do not say.
Part of what that gap entails as annapearlman12 explores in her article, are very structured guidelines for how politicians, based on their gender, are to behave, dress [including bold or muted jewelry choices, as analyzed in melmmelrh’s piece], as well as the kind of rhetoric [rhetorical appeals, as well as what topics or agendas are allowed or encouraged based on gender] they can present and champion. Long before Hillary Clinton was known as the First Lady of the United States, she was a college student at Wellesley who was, according to clogan 10, just as calculating and careful as today; aware that to enact true change, one had to work “with authority, rather than blatantly denounce it.”
Unfortunately, it seems as though that same calculating and careful demeanor is what has contributed to widespread public sentiment that has become, as Professor Hayden writes, ‘a hating-Hillary phenomenon.” One of the problems that has persisted throughout Hillary Clinton’s political career is her apparent inability to relate to people, which in turn, causes people to view her as untrustworthy. Yimchristina’s analysis on Aristotle’s approach to the appeals magnifies Hillary Clinton’s trouble with the appeal to ethos – she doesn’t fully conform to the feminine standards demanded of her gender. We can analyze her choice to wear pantsuits, which marked the beginning of new chapter for Clinton as she began her senatorial run, or her choice to keep her maiden name throughout most of her husband, Bill Clinton’s gubernatorial term as key defining and defying moments of Hillary Clinton’s public politician persona. After her husband’s crushing defeat for reelection to Governor of Arkansas, analysts determined that Hillary’s persona was unrelatable to her husband’s southern constituents, which is what propelled her to undergo a makeover that went beyond lighter hair all the way to a new surname, namely, her husband’s. Melmmelrh writes [of the makeover] about “feeling sad because she [Hillary] was and is a highly educated woman with a great career, but ultimately was subject to societal pressures on the feminine appearance and gender roles.”
Before the makeover
After the makeover
Hillary Rodham, or Hillary Rodham Clinton or Hillary Clinton [the name she chose to use when she eventually ran for president], are all the same person, yet she had to rebrand herself in both her physicality and as pmurphy54 points out, her rhetoric, as deemed necessary by voters, politicians, constituents & haters so that the likelihood of labeling or dismissing Hillary as a ‘bitch’ would be diminished. Unlike Sarah Palin, who completely embraced a feminized rhetoric in her 2008 Vice Presidential acceptance speech by emphasizing her female identity through the roles of mother, wife, patriot, and supporter of “true American hero” John McCain, and Elizabeth Dole, who also embraced her feminine roles and rhetoric when she ran unsuccessfully for president in 2000, Hillary Clinton, like others before her [Shirley Chisholm and her presidential bid in 1972 comes to mind] have tried to find a balance between the expected performance of a gendered rhetoric and distancing oneself from those expectations.
But since Hillary Clinton was FLOTUS, let’s consider for a moment, did Clinton meet the expectations of a First Lady? SarahParente’s take on the rise of the rhetorical First Lady suggests that the power of First Ladies is illegitimate since, or because they tend to [or are expected to] direct their efforts to children or charity issues. According to Nonzamo’s take on the To the First Lady, With Love piece, “the position of first lady is, unfortunately, symbolic and it makes it fair game for media analysis ad nauseum. But no think piece can fully encompass a real woman.” Clinton did not play into the role of the typical First Lady; she actively spearheaded healthcare reform, and even though it was not a success, it was that same push-forward attitude that propelled Clinton to presidential aspirations and is the reason why her husband [when campaigning on her behalf at the 2016 DNC ] said “she’s the best darn change maker I ever met!” She certainly changed expectations of what a presidential [or senatorial] candidate does, since she made it a point to listen to what people were saying in order to understand what she could do for people.
Where Hillary has continually struggled to change public perception in her favor is with the question of authenticity, namely, the lack of hers. As Petscortnyc points out in her piece, “A Deadpan Hillary Clinton Visits Between Two Ferns,” Hillary followed Obama’s lead [when he was promoting Obamacare] and made an appearance on the show, however, unlike Obama, who was invited and had to ask his daughter about the show and its popularity, Clinton’s team reached out and requested an interview on the show in what appears to be an attempt to connect with younger voters. In what seems to be an ironic paradox of Clinton’s [un]acceptance as authentic, she has become an icon as I explored, due to her tenacity, her status, and her rhetoric. I have yet to determine if becoming something of an icon [depending on who you ask] further constrains you to a gendered role, or allows you to break [almost entirely] with conventions, expectations, and double standards [both visual and rhetorical], as melmmelrh explored? Will this status allow for humor in politics to go beyond criticism, and be thought of as “enlightening and successful journalism?”