Losing The Presidency: The Role Of Gender Politics In Hillary Clinton’s Downfall

Research into representations of women leaders in the media shows how these double standards are played out through text and imagery. Political cartoons of Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, for instance have adopted sexual imagery to depict and deride her use of masculine behaviours such as her ambition and assertiveness, while portraying the demonstration of feminine related collaborative and caring qualities as manipulative and calculating. Judged against a male norm, women in high office like Clinton are found lacking on two fronts; they are not natural inhabitants of the leadership role and in their ambition to lead they are not fulfilling the accepted, supportive role attributed to women. This may explain why Michelle Obama was so warmly received during the campaign in her support of Clinton. As loyal wife and campaign supporter, she is neither competitor nor contender.

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