Posted by: kaitlyncarter30 | October 10, 2016

Gender in Politics

(This is an initial post for 10/13!)

As a warning, this post gets into politics a little bit. I am not taking a stance on either side in this post. I just want to look at the way the two genders were treated in the last Presidental Debate.

In the second Presidential Debate, you could see the way the two different genders are treated. It was very obvious, but I do not know if I would have even registered it if I had not been through this class. At the beginning of the semester we talked a  little bit about how the male counterpart (husband, dad, etc) in a relationship is the one talked about when the spotlight is on the woman. That was definitely seen in the second Presidental Debate. I know that a lot more goes into some of the comments rather than it just being male vs female. First of all, Hillary Clinton’s husband was a previous U.S. President. So even though this is all about Hillary Clinton right now, Bill Clinton still comes into play some since he used to be a leader of this nation.

First, Donal Trump brings in Bill Clinton. As pretty much everyone knows, there was a tape leaked of Donald Trump 10 years ago saying very derogatory things about a woman that can be deemed sexual assault (it is almost brushed  off, but that is a completely other topic to tackle). Bill Clinton was accused of sexually assaulting many women in the past. So when Donald Trump was asked a question regarding this tape and accusing him of basically sexually assaulting these woman, he brought it right back to Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton is not running in this Presidental Race, Hillary Clinton is. This is one case where, in the debate, it was brought back to her husband. I wonder if it was the other way around, with Trump’s wife being previously accused of sexually assaulting someone and Hillary  Clinton was the one on the tape, if Hilary Clinton would bring it back onto Trump’s wife.

A second time Hillary Clinton’s husband was brought into was by a moderator. Well, more of someone on the internet since it as a Town Hall style debate. Someone asked a question to Hillary Clinton about her husband’s view on something. I was very confused and dumbfounded by this question when it was asked. This race is about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, NOT about Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. They used up a question in the hour and a half time slot to talk about something that Bill Clinton said. Not once was Donald Trump’s wife asked about. The moderators or audience never said, “Donald Trump, your wife said this… Please explain.” But they said that to Hillary Clinton! I do not remember the exact question asked, but I know it was about a stance on a policy that Bill Clinton has.

These are real world examples on how even women in the highest of power, literally a woman running for the highest power in the U.S., is asked about their male counterparts. I was just very taken aback by this throughout the entire debate. I would love to hear others’ views on this and what they thought about it. This race is about Hilliary Clinton and not yer husband, yet they brought it back to him.

PS: I would like for this to stay about the way the two were treated in relation to gender, not about their views on the topic. I know that one of the two points was about sexual assault, which is a touchy subject. I would like to stay away from what was said in the video and Donald Trump’s response to that during the debate. I only brought that up because it was one of the more obvious times Bill Clinton was brought up in the debate. 


  1. Should the spouses of politicians matter, regardless of gender? Bringing out the “dirty laundry” of your political opponent’s spouse seems unprofessional and off-topic. Will people see Hilary’s election to office as a means for Bill to influence control? Will they say that she is a puppet for his political agenda? Reporters would likely never suggest that about a male president being controlled by the first lady.
    I wish gender was not so pervasive and deeply rooted in our minds sometimes. Let people be people and let politicians do their thing. We would be better off if we assessed everyone on an individual basis instead of lumping people into stereotyped groups.

  2. This may be the way how our culture responds to the novelty of a woman being as high in position as Hillary Clinton in the race of the presidency. Specifically our western society is so used to seeing only males run for the presidency so not having that in the picture in the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump may seem jarring to our culture. The norms are being challenged and therefore the reactions may not always be the best or mature. It is inappropriate and unrelated for these questions within the debate to be centered around Bill Clinton when it’s Hillary Clinton running for presidency. The issue may be because the way this presidential race has been breaking down the norms of our society especially politically has caused our culture to unfortunately respond in degrading and backwards ways.

  3. I agree with Rachel, that this kind of reaction is how the public is responding to a situation that is completely new to us. It seems to me that as a society we have a hard time imagining a woman being in a powerful (political) position without support, particularly from a husband. Gender roles are so ingrained in our minds, that while we have started to accept the idea of equal partnership relationships and of course we are plenty comfortable with the idea of a man in the professional realm with his wife existing only as a family-oriented figurehead, the idea of a women taking on the full time job that is the presidency without some level of teamwork with her husband is hard to grasp.
    To play devils advocate, I will mention that Bill Clinton was a president of the United States and as a significant political figure, there would be MORE of a reason to mention his views on something than those of Trump’s wife. Not saying that its acceptable, but it does make some sense.
    I feel like it must be a combination of these two factors that caused the Bill Clinton related questions at the debate. I didn’t watch the debate, how did Hillary respond to these comments? If she does make it to office, I am curious how the White House will handle a “First Gentleman” and Bill Clinton will be portrayed.

  4. I agree with you that this is a very infuriating topic. I am constantly thinking of the clip from “Scandal” that we watched in class where Lisa Kudrow is attacking her interviewer and the producer for creating a “homey” environment where subtly feminine things are being displayed. I did not catch the question you’re referring to, and I want to validate your frustration at the nature of the question but also push back a little. The Clinton family is an anomaly. The potential future First Man is also a previous Mr. President and the future Mrs. President is also a previous First Lady. What complicates matters more is that Bill Clinton was one of two presidents to be impeached, although he was acquitted, if that even matters. To add yet another layer is that he is still somehow revered in the political world and asked to speak on multiple occasions and share his political opinion on several topics. Trump’s wife is not. She has no political background, she wasn’t even born in the States (not that that would discredit her opinion- but she’s, to put it as nicely as I can, a model who is unacquainted with American politics and all diplomatic policy). As frustrating as the situation is that women candidates are covered differently, I think it’s valid to bring up Bill Clinton in this particular election.

  5. I noticed this as well! I understand that Bill Clinton was a former president and still seen as an influential leader, however, as you’ve said, he isn’t running for president yet is being compared equally to the one who is. The comparison between Bill Clinton and Trump is offensive and invalidating to Hilary Clinton and her campaign. It discredits her because it is placing her worth as a presidential candidate in her husbands actions, not just her own, as if to say she’s only as credible or good as her husbands actions. She is held responsible for her husbands actions and will be judged based on them, in a way that Trump and his wife are not. It seems like society’s way of maintaining patriarchal control, to never fully let a woman have the highest influence. No matter if it’s a women in the highest position of power, she’s still held accountable for her husband’s actions. I’m not exactly sure what to make of it, but it definitely seems odd.

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