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Unformatted text preview: Have You Come a Long Way, Baby? Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Sexism in 2008 Campaign Coverage Diana B. Carlin & Kelly L. Winfrey The 2008 U.S. presidential election was historic on many levels. The country elected its first African American president who narrowly defeated a female candidate in the Democrat primary race. The Republicans nominated their first woman as a vice presidential candidate. Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin demonstrated that women politicians have come a long way; however, an analysis of media coverage reveals that lingering sexism toward women candidates is still alive and well. Using common stereo- types of women in corporations developed by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, language theories, and media framing, this essay uncovers the common gendered stereotypes that surfaced in the 2008 campaign. The analysis indicates that there was a considerable amount of negative coverage of both candidates and that such coverage has potential to cast doubt on a woman’s suitability to be commander-in-chief or in the wings. Keywords: Gender stereotypes; Hillary Clinton; Sarah Palin; Sexism in the media; Women in politics; Women political candidates In commenting on Caroline Kennedy’s aborted campaign to be appointed U.S. Senator from New York, longtime Democrat consultant Bob Shrum observed that ‘‘Much of the criticism of Kennedy centered on her demeanor—her soft voice and use of the phrase ‘you know’—similar to the types of complaints that were so preva- lent during the campaigns of Clinton and Palin’’ (Kornblut, 2009, p. 2). Women Diana B. Carlin is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. Kelly L.Winfrey is a doctoral student at the University of Kansas. The authors would like to thank Ben Warner, Jim Schnoebelen, and Joe Pierron for their helpful comments on the manuscript. Correspondence to: Diana B. Carlin, University of Kansas, Communication Studies, Bailey Hall, 1440 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045-7574, USA. E-mail: [email protected] Communication Studies Vol. 60, No. 4, September–October 2009, pp. 326–343 ISSN 1051-0974 (print)/ISSN 1745-1035 (online) # 2009 Central States Communication Association DOI: 10.1080/10510970903109904 candidates often experience what Kathleen Hall Jamieson (1995) described as a double bind: ‘‘Women who are considered feminine will be judged incompetent, and women who are competent, unfeminine . . . who succeed in politics and public life will be scrutinized under a different lens from that applied to successful men’’ (p. 16). In 2008 the double bind was not limited to Kennedy, as Shrum observed. Hillary Clinton put 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling and Sarah Palin con- tributed to over 58 million more, but the ceiling awaits another historic election to complete the breakthrough. In Clinton and Palin, American voters saw two very different women candidates. When they came together—on ‘‘Saturday Night Live’’ in the forms of Tina Fey as Palin and Amy Poehler as Clinton—to address ‘‘the very...
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This note was uploaded on 07/14/2011 for the course JOU 455 taught by Professor Cotton during the Spring '11 term at Kentucky.
- Spring '11