Sexism in Politics
This election year marks many historical achievements in American politics. “For the first time in history, the front runners for ticket are two minorities – a woman and an African-American” (Northrup, 1). Racism has always existed as well as sexism. It is present in the course of the 2008 election campaign. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) endured sexism from all directions. “Political cartoons depicted her from everything from an ice cream to being raped by a donkey” (Northrup, 1). T-shirts included anti-woman slogans as well as rally signs that may read “Iron my shirt”.
Some believe that her political views were too liberal. It is obvious that women have not gotten to the point in which they can be judged for their mind and character. Some women prefer to be judged by their looks, thinking that they will have more opportunities. Hillary Clinton complained about the “sexism that has gone on in this campaign” and the fact that “so much of what has occurred that has been very sexist” (Bernard, 1). On the other hand, she put emphasis on her sex and won support from many women.
Some believe that Clinton was using Chisholm’s legacy as a pawn with blacls, particularly black women, to get votes. In 2005, when Clinton was a junior senator, she honored Chisholm and her legacy. Many black voters were torn between choosing Clinton or Obama. Since many blacks supported Bill Clinton during his presidency, some felt that having Hillary as President would mean having Bill back in the White House again. On the other hand, other African-Americans, like Jesse Jackson, have run for President, but never secured a nomination.
Sen. Barack Obama is the first African-American to be nominated for the President of the United States. Many Americans thought that Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee, would choose Sen. Hillary Clinton as his running mate. They figured that he would get more of the female voters support. Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his Vice President. “The choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate was widely seen as an attempt to attract disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters” (Wright, 1).
Hillary Clinton “ran the kind of race and raised the kind of money that allowed her to go toe-to-toe” (Wingert, 2). Since his announcement, “John McCain’s poll numbers have soared and his crowd sizes have surged” (Wingert, 1). Early polling shows that men, more than women have been attracted to Palin’s candidacy. Many believe that it is because of her looks and her appeal to “faith voters”. Palin opposes both abortion and gay rights. She also “dresses like a governor” (Wingert, 2). Palin garnered 58% approval from men (23% disapproving), while only 48% of women approved and 30% did not (Wright, 1).
On the other hand, some do not feel confident in Palin’s abilities to take over as President if something happens to McCain. In 1984, Democratic nominee Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. She was the nation’s first female candidate for Vice President. Before his selection, he was fifteen or sixteen points behind President Ronald Reagan. Following his announcement, they were even. They “had the largest crowds they’d seen since JFK” (Wingert. 1). However, President Reagan was re-elected.
People were excited to see a woman nominated for a national office, but excitement doesn’t always translate into votes. “The polls will flip up and down and it doesn’t necessarily translate into making a difference on Election Day and who becomes president” (Wingert, 1). During that time, many women, particularly stay-at-home mothers, found Ferraro’s candidacy threatening. “They thought that it would somehow hurt them” (Wingert, 2). They thought that they would be expected to be a “supermom” or whatever. Some believed that Mondale lost the election because he chose a woman to be his running mate.
But, people don’t vote for the vice president. They vote for the presidential candidates. In 1983, people evaluated the state of the economy and national security, and they liked Ronald Reagan. In 1981, he nominated Sandra Day O’Connor as the first female Supreme Court Justice even though he was known to be “terrible with women” (Wingert, 1). He did it out of an obligation to a campaign promise. Conservatives were not happy about O’Connor’s nomination. They felt that she did not have federal judicial experience and constitutional knowledge.
They also questioned her position on abortion. Liberals, on the other hand, were satisfied at seeing a woman on the High Court, but they were disappointed at O’Connor’s lack of strong support for feminist issues. Madeline Albright was Geraldine Ferraro’s foreign policy advisor twenty-four years ago. In 1997, she became the first woman to be sworn in as the U. S. Secretary of State to serve the Clinton administration. She was vocal about her support for Sen. Hillary Clinton, but also felt that the Democrats were in a good position regardless of its nominee. She also shares frustrations about how the role of race and gender is shaping the race for the White House” in an interview with National Public Radio’s (NPR) Michel Martin (Hill, 1).
She is proud to have served as Secretary of State. In 2001, President George W. Bush named Condoleezza Rice his national security advisor. She became the first African American and the first woman ever to hold the position. .In 2005, she became the second woman (and the first African-American woman) to serve as Secretary of State. She replaced Gen. Colin Powell when he resigned. Rice was mentored by Albright’s father, Josef Korbel, while studying at the University of Denver” (Hill, 1).
She has seen her share of sexism. She is usually asked how she ended up in her current profession. Her most successful weapon against racism and sexism has been her own intelligence and ability. Many believed that she would run for President or be chosen as a Vice Presidential candidate. Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968. In her speech in the House of Representatives on May 21, 1969, she discusses the frustrating and demeaning experiences that a young, female college graduate will face.
Women are accepted as secretaries and teachers, but they are not necessarily accepted as doctors or politicians. She also mentioned that she was discriminated against most often because she was a woman more than because she was black On January 25, 1972, she announced her campaign for presidency. She received 151. 95 of the 2,000-plus ballots on the first roll call (Ebony, 194). Her legacy has led to thirteen African-American serving in the House in the 108th Congress.
Other women have run for president since 1983 like Pat Schroeder, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), and Carol Moseley Braun (Wingert, 2). Schroeder was severely criticized for crying when she announced that she would not run for the Democratic Party nomination in 1987. Many felt that she ended her chances of running for a higher political office. When men show emotion, it shows their sensitive side. When women show emotion in public, they are criticized. Senator Dole ran for president in 2000, but she withdrew from the race before the primaries due to lack of fundraising power. She was also a possible choice for a Vice Presidential candidate for President George W. Bush.
She is very pleased with John McCain’s selection of Gov. Palin as his running mate. She believes that Palin is extremely qualified for the position of Vice President. Carol Moseley Braun is the first African-American woman to be elected in the Senate. She is also a former Ambassador to New Zealand. She announced her presidential bid in 2003. She struggled with building a fund-raising network. In the following year, she dropped out of the race to endorse Sen. Howard Dean. There is much excitement about the 2008 election.
We will either see the first female Vice President or the first African-American President. Some people will vote based on their feeling about the present economy, the war, values, and health care. Others will vote based on race or sex. Regardless of a voter’s reason for choosing a candidate, sexism will still exist. Women make up the majority of the U. S. Population. However, the assumption is that women are different, lack leadership skills, and are too emotional. Thus, sexism is acceptable by society. Some people refuse to change their ideologies.