Editorial: Gender bias in politics

As the election progresses and we have a real possibility of electing the first female president in the United Sates, we at the Echo thought it would be interesting to discuss the differences between men and women when running for office.

Most of us believe that there is a big difference in the way females are viewed and discussed when running for office.

We don’t think in most cases that it’s an intentional statement that women are not fit to be president because of the inherent fact that they are women, although we have heard that before.

Usually, the difference is more subtle than that. We have highlighted four main ways in which women are often discussed differently during their campaigns.

Appearance:

Women are often criticized for the way they dress. For example, we continue to hear comments on Hilary Clinton’s pantsuits and the size of her heels. Former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin commented that she was expected to wear heels but had to stand for the entire VP debate.

Demeanor:

Women are constantly criticized in our society for their demeanor. Clinton has often been criticized for looking “mean” or “cold.” However, when she smiled a lot at the last debate, many people commented that she looked condescending. Kind of a lose-lose situation.

Women are also often criticized for showing emotion, and people make comments that they are too emotional to make important decisions. Often times when male leaders are emotional however, such as former Speaker of the House John Boehner, they are seen as caring and compassionate.

Health:

Although Donald Trump is older than Clinton, Clinton has undergone much more scrutiny regarding her health this year. Although this is partially due to the fact that she had pneumonia, we think it is also partially due to the fact that older women are seen differently than older men.

As a society, we often view women who are older than middle-aged as ancient and frail, but we view men who are the same age as wise and capable. Part of this is due to the lack of female figures in lead roles throughout history.

Family:

Many times females are judged based on their family. For example, a woman who has been married three times probably wouldn’t be viewed as fit for office like Trump. Questions have also been raised about the ability for a woman to do her job if she becomes pregnant or has young children to take care of, such as: Who is watching your kids? Do you feel like you’re neglecting your family? And How do you find balance?

Men are never asked these types of questions concerning their ability to be a leader and have a family.

Clinton is often judged by the actions of her husband, Bill Clinton. Not only does she have to run her own campaign, but she has to contend with her husband’s affairs, scandals and shortcomings as president.

 

Many voters tend to lean towards candidates who look presidential, and since we have never had a female president, it is hard for a female to have that look.

We at the Echo think it is very important to see the first female president elected at some point in our lifetime. Countries like Pakistan, Israel, India, The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Liberia and Brazil, which Americans typically consider less developed than the US, have had female presidents or prime ministers. How can we claim to be a world leader and a symbol for democracy for all, when so many people feel unequal?

Research shows that young boys and girls are equally likely to want to be president, but by high school significantly more boys than girls want to be president. Having a female president could help change that.

While we don’t think the election of a female candidate will completely solve the issue of sexism in America, just like having our first Black president didn’t fix racism, it is an important step in our country’s history and it will pave the way for a better future for female leaders.

 

 

Ashley Day

Ashley Day

Editor-in-Chief

Ashley is a communication major with a minor in psychology. She spends most of her spare time hiking, eating sushi or taking photos. To contact Ashley, email her at jks461@mocs.utc.edu.

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