'B-Word' Bashes Young Women's Political Aspiration
If you want to know why younger women are shying away from political bids just look at how Hillary Clinton and Wendy Davis are still being subjected to a double standard on toughness. The media has a role in stopping this.
Both Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for 2016, and Wendy Davis, who is running this year for governor of Texas, have to face the B-word.
No, we are not talking about the word "bossy," which Lean-In.org and the Girl Scouts USA propose banning in effort to protect girls' leadership potential.
We are talking about the big-girl B-word: Bitch.
Recently, a conservative newspaper published an article based on the memos and journals of one of Clinton's best friends, Diane Blair, a political science professor from Arkansas who died in 2000. Blair's papers show Clinton as a tough political strategist, alternately anguished by or at home with the rough and tumble of Washington politics.
The conservative media piled on. "Hillary papers show ruthless, ambitious First Lady," Minority Report announced, and many similar posts appeared on right wing websites.
The Blair papers included excerpts from a memo on Clinton by pollsters Celinda Lake and Stan Greenberg on May 12, 1992: "While voters genuinely admire Hillary Clinton's intelligence and tenacity, they are uncomfortable with these traits in a woman."
Meanwhile, Davis has been called a "stone cold bitch" and a "lying bitch" by conservative websites because she divorced a husband who had, years ago, financially supported her through Harvard Law School.
As we found in the research we examined for our book, "The New Soft War on Women," gender bias hasn't disappeared. It's just gone underground, creating land mines for female candidates and turning young women away from politics.
Young men were twice as likely as women to have thought about running for office "many times," whereas women were 20 percentage points more likely than men never to have considered it, research by the Women and Politics Institute at American University found last year in the first-ever survey of the political aspirations of 18- to 25-year-old men and women.
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