The final gender brown bag discussion of this semester took place Nov. 29 in the Shawnee room of the Memorial Union.
James Schnoebelen, associate professor of communication studies, led the event, that was called “Re-evaluating the Glass Ceiling: Clinton’s Gender and the 2016 Presidential Campaign”. As well as being a professor of communication, Schnoebelen’s specialty is in political communication.
The main focus of the discussion was an overall look at how gender permeates politics more than most people realize. Schnoebelen started by giving the audience some facts about gender stereotypes that had been gathered, where many people were asked what qualities they would want to see in a candidate of each gender. The results concluded that most people wanted the men in politics to be aggressive, tough, rationally-thinking and direct, whereas women in politics were expected to be sensitive, emotional, helping, warm and passive towards their male counterparts. Both genders were expected to have former political success.
Schnoebelen then used these stereotypes and compared our former Presidential candidates to them to see how they measured up.
He noted that Trump held many of these aforementioned qualities: aggressiveness, toughness and being direct with his actions. Schnoebelen believes that this is part of the reason he won the election. “Even though [Trump] does not have any past political experience, he has personal success that proves he has had some masculine-stereotyped success. Trump has rewritten the book on communication for politics,” Schnoebelen said.
Schnoebelen also noted that the election may have gone to Trump because Clinton did not possess nearly any of the aforementioned gender stereotypes while campaigning, thus causing her to be highly unlikable to many Americans.
“Female politicians are often seen as talkative and uneducated. Women are faced with the issue of wanting to be taken seriously in politics, but also still [expected to] uphold this feminine standard,” Schnoebelen said.
Schnoebelen then discussed different specific aspects of the election that made it unique. He noted that many have said this was one of the most negative elections and believes that much of this has to do with the likability of the candidates,
“Clinton was already an unlikable figure as a female politician, so when the email and Benghazi scandals came along, they did not help her overall appearance. Voters had an issue with trust in the election.”
He discussed the use of the Trump-coined term, “Nasty woman” which stemmed from the third presidential debate, saying that many of those who did not support Clinton felt the same way Trump did, mainly because she was breaking the stereotypes that women in power are supposed to possess.
He then summed up the “rigged system” issue with a quote.
“If you want to talk about a rigged system, try running for President as a woman. There was a lot of mansplaining in this election.”
Mansplaining is the act of a man explaining something to a woman in a manner that could be regarded as condescending or patronizing.
Schnoebelen then noted that he believed the main culprit for the results of the election was the media itself.
“Many articles posted by various news sites have said that the Media made Trump, which they did, because they constantly had him as the center of attention.”
The discussion ended with an open discussion on gender and the election in which Schnoebelen made strong closing remarks, proclaiming that Clinton’s efforts were not completely wasted.
“Clinton had a lot of historic firsts: first woman to become a candidate of a major party, first woman to win electoral votes, first woman to win popular vote,” Schnoebelen said. “Much of what Clinton has done will encourage others to follow in her footsteps This is encouraging other women and young girls to run for offices.”