media reaction #1

September 20, 2010

Gender, Race and Class on the Campaign Trail
The 2008 campaign was an election to remember. During this election we had controversial issues that involved race, gender and class. For the first time in American history we had an African-American male, Barack Obama, not only run for presidency but became elected and was named the 46 president of the United States of America. Other issues involved two women who also played a major role in the campaign. Hillary Clinton ran for presidency and was close to winning and Sarah Palin almost became the first female Vice-President of the United States of America.
One of the major reasons for the controversies during the 2008 election was because of stereotypes. Stereotypes are comparative measurements to the “standard” bearer. Some of these stereotypes included were that a women cannot run a country or that a black male cannot be as experienced or hard working as a white male in office can or if you are Muslim, you are directly associated with terrorism of some kind.
In the Article, Performing: Gender, Race and Class on the Campaign Trail, it explains how there are racial barriers between blacks and whites. Many stereotypes explain that white popular culture perceives black masculinity as bipolar: there are “good blacks” and “bad blacks”. According to white popular culture, the “Bad Black Man” is animalistic, sexually depraved and crime prone. Obama’s counterpart was seen as the “Good Black Man”; he “distanced” himself from black people and emulates more of the white view. This view shows that race was in fact prominent in the election.
Hillary Clinton, as we all know, is a very strong and determined woman. Although many felt that she would not be fit for office because she was a female many articles say that her masculine demeanor by being so tough showed less of her femininity which allowed her to do well in the election. “Femininity is misplaced, at least when it comes to women aspiring to high public office position”, says Professor Cooper from Denver University. This quote further explains that gender can be seen as a performance because it explains that Hillary is surpassing her “gender norm”. Many say that Hillary was in fact too masculine for the job which is ironic because people feel that women cannot uphold a high job position because they cannot be tough, they are too emotional. Women’s identities as aspiring political leaders continue to be problematic and require women to negotiate a double mind: if they are too feminine they are believed to be incompetent. If they are too masculine, they are considered not likeable.
Since there is a widespread unease and prejudice against Muslims among Americans, especially since 9/11, the Obama campaign was perhaps very sensitive during the primaries and general election to modulate his Muslim roots. This has a lot to do with class because Obama was looked down upon because he was Muslim and he chose to keep his middle name Hussein. Throughout the election, Obama was speculated because of his Muslim roots, which is unfair because Obama as well as many others are frowned upon because they are Muslim and somewhat directly associated with terrorism.
Ultimately, throughout the 2008 election there were several cases that further explain gender, race and class. Examples such as Barack Obama, being labeled as a “good black man” which allowed him to be successful in the election or Hillary Clinton being a female and not being “fit” for a political job. These are instances that unfortunately happen every day in society, hopefully one day there will no longer be a criterion for what position you hold in our culture.


One Response to “media reaction #1”

  1. parrisnic Says:

    I completely agree with your topic. This is a very good topic because in our society in America we learned to judge people by where they come from, their roots but don’t look at the complete aspect of who the person really is and who Obama is.

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