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After Hillary Clinton recently announced her support of gay marriage, many felt as though her joining the presidential race in 2016 was solidified. So much so that the political action committee “Ready For Hillary” officially launched its new website.
The possibility of a female candidate’s name appearing on the 2016 ballot is a real, plausible occurrence, and that’s a really big deal. In fact, it’s disheartening how much of a big deal it actually is, as it emphasizes the overwhelming constraints placed on women in the year 2013 — a time when robots and computers ingrained in our glasses exist, but a female is just now, maybe, being considered a legitimate presidential candidate.
Because some Americans’ social ideologies remain stuck in the 1950s, when gender roles were at their trendiest, the debate surrounding this topic often drifts from whether or not Clinton would make a good president to whether or not a woman, in general, would make a good president.
Aside from the whole “we live in a patriarchal society and this is just the way it is” thing, a common argument against a female president is that women are emotionally unstable, overly sensitive and hormonally-hindered. What if a female president was PMS-ing and arbitrarily declared war on Canada because she ran out of maple syrup? Thank goodness our rational men have stepped in and reigned for the last 200-something years; they’ve avoided unnecessary wars and anything condemnable, really.
Reinforcing a stereotype that women are fragile, hysterical creatures is ignorant and easy. Even if an elected female leader proved to be more sensitive in nature, I see nothing wrong with some political compassion. What is most frustrating is the double standard present in politics that applies to male and female politicians.
Take John Boehner, for example. Boehner is Speaker of the House, and he cries a lot. He cried when he was elected Speaker of the House. He cried during a ceremony honoring Arnold Palmer at the capitol. He cried while giving a commencement address at Ohio State University. He cried presenting a Congressional Gold Medal to Neil Armstrong. He’s cried in television interviews, at statue unveilings and even at a St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. While some have mocked the man for shedding tears publicly so frequently, others applaud him for being “real” and wearing his heart on his sleeve.
I’m not knocking anyone for letting a few tears slip. But can you imagine what would happen if Hillary Clinton was known for crying so often? She wouldn’t be a potential presidential candidate, I can assure you that much.
In the few instances Clinton has shed tears, the act of her crying ended up receiving more attention and analysis than anything else she was saying or doing. Articles declaring that they thought her tears were either helpful or hurtful to her as a politician surfaced and spread like wildfire. Instead of being the harmless additional detail or laughable punch-line that Boehner’s tears invoke, Mrs. Clinton’s tears define her.
To be taken seriously in a male-dominated job, women must depict themselves as stoic beings that have overcome their terrible biological tendencies to feel or emote.
If 2016 rolls around without adequate female representation on the ballot, maybe I’ll give in to my own genetically-manufactured wild instability and see if I can get in on the race. I’ll whine and cry and bake goodies until I’m sworn into office, and all I can say is, someone better keep my cabinet stocked with syrup or Canada gets it.
Contact CU Independent Opinions Editor Lizzie Hernandez at Elizabeth.email@example.com.