Why We Fear Women In Power

Being the first female president violates traditional gender roles.

According to Peter’s Beinart’s Fear of a Female President article, Hillary Clinton has generally been most popular when conforming to traditional gender roles (working on women’s issues as first lady, sticking by her husband during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, loyally serving Barack Obama as secretary of state) and least popular when violating them (heading the health-care task force, serving in the Senate, running for president).

Is Clinton perfect? Of course not. Do I agree with everything she’s done? Of course not. But there’s many people who do not want a woman in office, simply put. Clinton is a qualified candidate with years of political experience. The hate, and double standards surrounding her is out of control. Why are there so many sayings like “Trump That B****” and “Life’s a B***** don’t vote for one”? The Atlantic rolled out a short video from Beinart’s “Fear of a Female President” that basically explains how all this Hillary hate actually traces back to sexism; this fear comes from intimidated men who fear being emasculated. People hating her has a lot to do with lacking the Y chromosome and “not staying in her womanly place”. If she was out of the public eye, being a grandma, and following this good wife’s guide, she would not be receiving all the backlash.

The Good Wife’s Guide
The Good Wife’s Guide

Notice the last bullet point of “a good wife always know her place.”

The sexism is so subtle and embedded in American culture that we don’t even notice it. If you read Jay Newton Small’s book Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works, Small even admitted that he had a teacher who did not call on female students, saying that women should be seen, and not heard.

This matches with the research showing public hostility toward displays of female aspirations and ambitions. Like I said above, fear of female authority = fear of emasculation. Americans who hate Clinton most are those who most fear emasculation. Both men and women are often critical of women in power. Female bosses bring out feelings of disgust and anger quicker than a male boss. Subconsciously, too many in society think that a woman has a place, and men should control and lead everything. In the Precarious Manhood Theory stated by Beinart’s, Sammy Nickall’s and several other articles, manhood is a “precarious” status—difficult to earn and easy to lose. And when it’s threatened, men see aggression as a good way to hold onto it.

  • Jennifer Berdahl of the University of British Columbia found that women who “deviated from traditional gender roles—by occupying a ‘man’s’ job or having a ‘masculine’ personality” were disproportionately targeted for sexual harassment.
  • A 2010 study by Victoria L. Brescoll and Tyler G. Okimoto found that people’s views of a fictional male state senator did not change when they were told he was ambitious. When told that a fictional female state senator was ambitious, however, men and women alike “experienced feelings of moral outrage,” such as contempt, anger, and disgust.
  • According to recent studies, 52% of white men hold a highly unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton, while only 32% of white men held a highly unfavorable view of Obama when he was running back in 2012.
  • In the U.S. masculine roles are usually associated with strength, aggression, and dominance, while feminine roles are associated with passivity, nurturing, and subordination.
  • A 1998 study by Laurie Rudman states that women are expected to be friendly, passive, and nurturing; when a woman behaves in an unfriendly or assertive manner, she may be disliked or perceived as aggressive because she has violated a gender role. In contrast, a man behaving in a similarly unfriendly or assertive way might be perceived as strong or even gain respect in some circumstances. 
  • In a study by Blau, Ferber, & Winkler in 2010 and Ceci & Williams in 2011 in the U.S., women are less likely to be hired or promoted in male-dominated professions such as engineering, aviation, and construction

Being the first female president violates traditional gender roles.

Follow Alesha Peterson On Twitter: https://twitter.com/aleshapeterson

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