Posted by: meganmcalexander10 | January 24, 2013

Image is Everything?

Image is Everything? (Hillary Rodham Clinton, at Congressional hearing regarding Benghazi attack)

I recently saw this photo in an article; one about this photo being the cover of the The New York Post. That cover is accompanied by the headline “No Wonder Bill’s Afraid”. However, this picture is just one of many taken during Hillary’s testimony about a September attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

When I look at this picture, I see an angry woman. But that does not mean her husband should be afraid of her. Hillary Clinton is making her point known. She is letting Congress know her thoughts about what happened in that attack. Based on some research into the story, I really feel like Hillary was demonstrating agentic qualities. Instead of falling apart emotionally, although there were times of anger, she stood up for herself and what she was saying. She was assertive and confident in taking responsibility for the tragic accident, but she was not letting that responsibility distract her from the current purpose of the American administration; finding the assailants.

It is interesting that the New York Post decided to portray Hillary as a woman with no control over her emotions. In the past, I have always gotten the impression that Hillary was labeled as cold and unfeeling. That has even been said in class a couple times. And yet hear, Hillary is vulnerable to the female stereotype of being overly emotional. It seems the world watches Hillary with bated breath to see how she will react to every situation. However, one picture should not be the deciding factor on how a person should be viewed. Hillary was facing questions that either she did not want to answer, or she saw as superfluous to the situation. The media stepped up though to bring one image to the public, and it was an image that can only serve to hinder women in leadership even further.


  1. I do agree with your statement of how a person should not be victimized based soley on a picture. I personally think that this is a huge issue with today’s society. Our world is so overwhelmed with critizing others, especially through the media and I think that alot of knowledge is lost via communication through the media. People are quick to make judgements of others based soley on other peoples interpretations of them or even just a simple picture. With this piscture of HIllary Clinton, it is apparent that she is obviously angry and determined to get across a message about something important, but I think people in the media are so deteremnied to destroy anyone’s reputation in anyway that they are willing to say and do anything to get that across. If people took the time to realize that she may have somehting very important to say rather than just bashin her image as a women , our country could probably learn alot. Its sad that our country is so focus on the influences of media that we are okay with accepting the information that they provide us rather than having our own opinons and finding the facts for ourselves. I know when it comes to politics I don’t judge someone based on the sex that they are, the color they are, or the culture that they come from, the party that they respresent, but I listen to them based on the type of person that they are and the things that they represent. I think that women and men both have important things to present to this country and we need to be more open to that.

  2. I think it is interesting that throughout her whole testimony, this is what the media chose to focus on: the fact that she was obviously extremely angry, and rightfully so. They didn’t seem to show interest in her commitment to finding the assailants. I think that in itself shows that she was looked down upon for being a woman. If a man had shown this same kind of emotion after this same event, the media would have shown him as portraying patriotism and passion for his country. Since this article was about a woman, she was shown as weak and unable to control her emotions. I think a lot of times, the media is more judgmental about women in general, not just Hillary Clinton. There is generally more media coverage of men, and when there is coverage of women, it always seems to focus on their negative qualities rather than their strengths. Although I agree that Hillary does seem angry, I think that just goes to show her passion and commitment to our country, and I am honestly amazed that the media would even want to portray that in a negative way.

  3. Although the New York Post decided to paint Hilary in a less than favorable light, and I agree with your sentiments, this picture intrigues me. When I think of the President of the United States, the image is power and passion. Clinton is a passionate, serious, hard-working, and impending personality. She has extensive experience at this point, and makes the case for the first female president very real. Therefore, it is all in what you perceive. On the one hand, a person can look at this picture, along with the headline, and disapprove, put off by her steely countenance. However, others can look on and feel excited, stimulated by her passion, which is an utmost necessity in the Oval Office. Hence, before we get all wrapped up in how the media paints the woman, we cannot forget the person they are trying to categorize. Clinton, in actuality, is this picture of passion, seriousness, and enthusiasm. For our needs as a country, those are ingredients desperately needed as leader of the free world.

  4. What I find most interesting about this portrayal is that, in studies, individuals (men) who show anger towards a situation are more likely to receive support and have a reaction where people attribute the issue to something other than that person. When leaders show sadness the reaction tends to be more negative and focus on the issues of the individual and not some outside force. Hillary shows anger and the immediate response from the media is to paint her as an irrational bitch. Unfortunately, the American people are uneducated at large when it comes to dealing with the media and instead of doing their own research on the topic at hand they simply adopt the stance already nicely prepared for them. It is important to note, however, that while this was an inaccurate portrayal of Clinton, she is not the only victim of the media. While women were hit particularly hard by Palin and Clinton, men are often shown badly as well. The media is an equal opportunity killer, if they can come up with a creative story that will sell, they do.

  5. The interesting thing about this photo and subheading about Bill and Hillary’s relationship is that if the roles were reversed, no one would even come to the conclusion of fear and abuse. For example if it was a male politician in the photo, the subheading wouldn’t say, “His poor wife” or “No wonder his wife is afraid.” A male politician’s passion and anger would just be seen as simply passion and anger with no underlying meaning. I imagine it must be a challenge for Hillary since it appears that neither passion nor unfeeling are emotions acceptable in a woman’s leadership role in the White House. You are very right, Megan, in saying Hillary is vulnerable to the female stereotypes.

  6. I found it interesting that the media was portraying Hillary as an emotional woman with no control considering she is usually thought to be cold and emotionless. I feel that since she is a woman, the media was able to easily play on her reactions. Of course the attack in Libya was an emotional topic so anyone who would have reacted emotionally would have seemed to be only human, but it seems as though her gender was an excuse for the media to say that she had no control over her emotions.
    The first thought that went through my head when I read ‘No wonder Bill’s afraid’ is why would the media make Hillary’s hearing about the attack about Bill? He was not the one addressing the attack, he was not the one she was emotional about, and he certainly wasn’t the one that fronted criticism for being emotional about the topic.

  7. I see what you mean about the media portraying Hillary as unfeeling and cold and then when she stands up for herself, she gets attacked for that as well. I do have a question to pose though: Would men be treated the same way? I am a big fan of Saturday Night Live and they often make fun of women leaders as well as men. It is a pretty intense picture and maybe the people who captured it felt uncomfortable with that and didn’t know how else to deal with it other than making it humorous. Beyond that, I hope pictures like these set women leaders back as little as a bad picture of a celebrity does: in one ear and out the other (or eyes…).

  8. When I read this post, I became frustrated by the title the New York Post gave the picture. Not only did it draw attention away from the issue that Hillary Clinton was discussing but most likely, if there was a man with a similar picture, the title would not be discussing the way his wife felt about him. I felt like she was being criticized in such a way mainly because she was a woman. Instead of the title being about the way she was handling the situation, it chose to make the headline about her face. It made me feel like they it was more important to discuss her appearance and the continued obsession with her as a woman rather than her capability to discuss important issues.

  9. If this had been a male leader in the picture society would have said he was an angry man the same way they said she is an angry woman. But it probably would not have made it into the news at all. The fact that we feel the need to make a point of saying this about her is just invoking the stereotype of “bitchy” female leaders. I find it very interesting that this would even be brought to the attention of the media.

  10. Your post went along really well with the “Bitch and the Ditz” article we were given to read for class tomorrow. This picture is a snapshot of a passionate woman speaking her mind and expressing herself how she feels necessary in order to get her point across. Hilary Clinton, like all of us regardless of gender, is a unique individual and has her own way of leading and handling herself in situations concerning issues she feels strongly about. She is labeled as a bitch and the article receives the caption/heading that it did because her behavior is conflicting with what society expects it to be as a woman. It’s almost as if people don’t know how to process her as an individual in the public sphere because she doesn’t fit the stereotypical woman gender stereotype we are socialized to hold. It’s almost the same reaction I would expect from an article about a male leader crying.

  11. I’m not sure that I agree with the thought that Hillary is being portrayed as someone who does not have control over her emotions. When I look at this picture I see an angry woman however I see a strong woman as well. I think the caption was for comic relief but when I think of someone I want to be leading my country I want them to be strong and passionate about their job/what they want to accomplish. Personally, I think this picture shows a lot about her dedication and strength. (and everyone now knows not to mess with Hillary). I think this picture does not at all hurt Hillary’s reputation it captivates her passions towards her countries best interest.

  12. This post is so true. My first thought was thinking back in class how it was mentioned that everything a woman does is more highly noted than what a man does. And my second thought was how in observing leaders we judge them so much not only by their words but their actions.
    In regards to my first thought, it seems silly to me to think that a woman can yell or look fierce such as Hillary’s face here, yet when a man does it; he is seen as powerful and strong. Why is it so wrong for a woman to be forceful and yes even yell once in a while to get a point across, when men in congress have been seen doing it every day? To me this comes from a personal view point of where women are meant to be seen as sweet, loving, gentle beings that show their care through their wording and are soft spoken. While men are the outburst, independent, forward charging beings who speak with a firm hand. Whenever you hear in the news about a woman speaking out it is looked at as shocking, but Hillary doesn’t seem negative to me, she looks like a woman trying to emphasize a meaning behind her gestures and words; which I believe to be the key people are missing which gets to my second point. People look at a leader when speaking and take in mostly how they say things and their actions, forgetting or not understanding the true meaning. When making a strong point, whether by a female or male, emphasis may be needed through gestures, facial expressions, or voice volume. Followers need to read into what the leader is saying and become familiar with their vision so that from there they can judge the leader on their appearances and approach to presenting a matter. Judgment is so easy to spread, and women do see it quicker than men and through this class I would like to discover why this can be and see the psychological aspects that affect people in seeing women and men differently.

  13. I think that the media plays a huge role in the incrimination of women as emotionally unstable leaders. I’m sure that there were many other photos taken of Hillary Clinton during her speech, but because this image portrays a negative stereotype familiar to the public, it is what’s going to sell a story. Personally, I believe that Clinton is only emphasizing her point thoroughly. Instead, she is depicted as a monster. When I see this photo, it raise the question: “Would a photo of a male leader depicted like Hillary Clinton is in this new article be as controversial?”

  14. This is a great example of this bias against women. Keeping in mind that it may also be a bias specifically towards Hillary Clinton (I’m not sure how much the gender factor plays into the author’s bias), it seems pretty ridiculous to portray her as an out-of-control woman who can’t handle her emotions when she is obviously speaking about something very powerful and emotional. It seems to be a safe bet that if a man had been giving the same testimony with the same emotions, he would have been seen as being passionate or caring. Showing passion in your words is not a “womanly” quality, especially when dealing with such powerful testimony.

  15. What I find the most interesting about this is how it’s considered normal when women get upset about some things but not normal to be upset about others. Especially in regards to national security and military situations, people get so frightened about women’s emotions. In the clip from Commander in Chief that we watched in class a few days ago, the female vice president turned president blatantly asked whether the Congressman was afraid she was going to blow up another nation during her time of the month. Why is this an issue? Is it a lack of education about biology? Is it that people are biased in terms of gender? Or possibly that society is still focused on the “great man”? Although I personally am concerned about any one person having that much power, I don’t know if it’s just gender, or if it’s something more.

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