Sunday, October 16, 2016

The 2016 Presidential Election and Gender

For this blog, I chose to read the New York Times article "Hillary Clinton Raises Her Voice, and a Debate Over Speech and Sexism Rages" by Amy Chozick and the Time article "Jill Soloway on Donald Trump, Locker Rooms, and Tragic Masculinity"by Jill Soloway. 

The New York Times article discusses how as the presidential race began to intensify with the Democratic debates between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, there was suddenly a wide spread opinion that Clinton's voice is annoying. People have described it as shrill and harassing. Chozick further explains how Clinton is described as "shouting" while her male competitors, such as Bernie Sanders, are most praised for their remarks which are described as being delivered forcefully.This can be through the ways in which gender and public speaking, and politics relate. Men are typically the ones in power and specifically in politics, the ones speaking out. With this presidential race being the first in United States history to have a female candidate,it has opened up the way in which women are viewed in society. Typically, women are expected to be reserved, and quiet, and when she breaks that and speaks out, it seems wrong and makes others uncomfortable, as she is not fulfilling the expected role. Also, her speaking up is placed in comparison to the expected reserved and quiet demeanor and therefore is exemplified to come off as harsher than it is in reality. Clinton spoke out against the accusations of her shouting by saying, "sometimes when a woman speaks out, some people think it's shouting"

Chozick also discusses Denise Graveline's research which says, "Women can be competent or likable, but not both". She then discusses further the 1984 election when Geraldine Ferraro was the first ever female vice president candidate, and how she faced similar issues. Graveline describes her as having taken on a masculine approach to her candidacy as she had lacked the credibility of her other male candidates, but this masculine role did not suit her well. Lisa Delpit says, "There are codes and rules for participating in power; that is, there is a "culture of power"". This culture of power varies slightly depending on the situation, but is almost always rooted in male masculinity. Specifically in the world of politics, the rules and codes of power are all based in the masculine sense, being stern and forceful about ones beliefs is the way to be respected and obtain power. As explained above, the expectations for women go against this culture of power, and therefore when they act alongside the culture of power they are able to be forceful and gain some respect,but then lose their likability as they are forcing those around them out of their comfort zones. 

The Time article focuses on the new release of information in relation to Donald Trump and the video released of him speaking vulgarly and inappropriately about women, and how his defense was to call it "locker-room talk". Soloway discusses how even though many men have rebutted that their "locker-room talk" is not as vulgar as the word's which Donald Trump used, they have admitted to discussing and objectifying women in overtly sexual ways.These talks and behaviors are passed off as expressions of masculinity; as "boys being boys". But these discussions are as Soloway describes them not classic masculinity, but rather toxic masculinity. In their discussions, these men continue to talk up sex, as it fuels their masculine feeling so they feel as though they are a part of the male community around them. Soloway explains, "They can't say anything about it because they don't want to be the bitch, they don't want to be the faggot". This again goes back to Delpit and the culture of power. In this male locker room situation, masculinity needs to be at it's highest, and following those masculine rules of power are a necessity to feel connected, and by doing or saying anything against them, they are then associated with the opposite side of the power spectrum, femininity. But with this,it is also explained, that females are not always left on the bottom of the power spectrum. As long as they are connected to a man, through a relationship or marriage, they are now viewed as closer to equal, but the farther from that relationship a woman goes, the less and less power she has. As Soloway ends the piece she discusses how being aware of the issue is one of the main steps in making sure the issue gets resolved rather than gets worse in the future. This is very similar to what Allan Johnson wrote in Privilege, Power, and Difference where he discussed the necessity of being aware of privilege as well as how everyone, including white men, need to help take part in bettering the situation. Johnson writes, "we are prisoners to something...and we are far from helpless to change it ourselves" . In this situation taking a step towards preventing further detriments can be taken through voting.