Gender inequality exists between men and women in many ways. In daily life, women are subjected to a barrage of gender discrimination from family, friends, academia, religious institutions, and the like, but the media serves up the strongest attack on women. Unfortunately, female politicians across party lines are not exempt from these vicious media attacks. As is typical of women running for political office, Hillary Clinton received negative one-sided coverage, or no coverage at all, as she was an individual who existed only in comparison to Barack Obama, and not as a separate, independent, and intelligent woman capable of much more than her subsequent State Department appointment by the President. Clinton, in this election, will always be viewed as merely “likeable enough” (quote attributed to Obama, Wakeman, J. 2008). This paper will discuss the media’s obsession with Clinton’s marriage coupled with how deep disrespect of her only exacerbated negative media coverage when referring to her in the public political sphere. Media does this by painting a picture of a weak, dependant , flighty woman seeking political office, manipulating her position with her ready pool of emotions or anger. Clinton attempted to overcome such media attacks, and the grace with which she handled the negative media attention and her subsequent loss led her to being the potential 2016 presidential candidate. Gender bias exists all over, but persists most strongly in media. Media, no matter what form, represents the sexes, in mostly unrealistic, stereotypical and limiting ways (Wood, 1989). Exposure to the constant negative stream of sexism the media provides, vastly affects the public’s perception of women and their role in society. It is no secret that women are depicted as passive, dependent and weak beings in the media. And constant exposure to these ideals then make it a shock when women break through these stereotypes to explore the more “masculine side” of society (McSweeny, H.R.). Women in all careers and walks of life experience this gender stereotyping, but women in politics experience this sexism at an alarmingly high rate.
This misrepresentation of women seen in the general media is intensified when politics become the subject of a media report. When it comes to political candidates, the media has the power to focus on certain aspects of the individual that they deem newsworthy; media will often use their position to paint a powerful picture of the politician, extracting her flaws and minimizing her strengths. This select perception of the candidate that the general public sees can create a reality far from the actual reality of the candidates comprehensive life (Goldsher, 2010). This already limited view of the politician’s life tends to take a far more negative tone when the media addresses female candidates as opposed to male candidates (Goldsher, 2010). The difference in coverage has even gone so far that the Obama campaign has called the news media “his base” because of the friendly treatment he has received throughout the election (Newton-Small, 2008). This is something that was definitely not heard of in the Clinton camp. Politics are already seen as a male dominated career, so when women try to break through this particular glass ceiling, they are often met with extreme resistance by both existing politicians, the voting public and the media.
In the past few years, there has been a dramatic increase in the misleading representation of women in politics. In 2008, the Democratic party was deciding on the election of Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Clinton was faced with many of the troubles women in twentieth century politics had faced before; one only needs to observe the caustic reaction Margaret Thatcher’s death elicited in the English public to get an idea (Margaret Thatcher dies: Negative Twitter Response, 2013). Clinton has been misrepresented as cold, calculating and ruthless or emotional,...
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(Unpublished doctorial dissertation)
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