The double standard

Ali Randazzo, editor-in-chief

Every time I scroll through social media, articles about Hillary Clinton’s pantsuits or Michelle Obama’s top 10 outfits fill my timeline. But I never seem to see anything about Trump’s style choices, or if Barack’s ankles showed. I would rather have my timeline filled with information that educates and helps me exercise my democratic right to participate in government; such as pieces about Clinton’s policies or Michelle’s top 10 quotes. I mean I am not voting for “America’s Next Top Model,” I’m voting to elect government officials.

As culture progresses, the public tends to focus on what separates women from their male counterparts rather than praising women for breaking social norms in pursuing a career in a male-dominated field. According to the Center for American Women and Politics, the Missouri legislature is 22 percent female. Because women are the minority group, they are expected to deliver a different standard of word choice, emotion, family involvement and appearance compared to male candidates. State Rep. Deb Lavender (D-Kirkwood) experiences this almost every day.

“[Women] need to be stronger to get involved in politics,” Lavender said. “The double standard exists to begin with, so when you step into the arena you already know you will be judged on a higher standard.”

Below are four ways the public tends to judge candidates based on gender stereotypes.

1. Word choice and tone of voice
All hell would break loose if a female candidate were to curse in public, but male candidates use foul language and receive humorous responses. While Donald Trump swears to “bomb the sh*t out of ISIS” and Chris Christie thinks Obama has done “stupid sh*t” in the foreign policy department, the late Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Justice, claimed his dissatisfaction that “ladies” swear. Women are expected have ‘proper’ speech and face heavy criticism if they ignore this unwritten rule. On the other hand, despite word choice, a candidate’s voice can influence the voter. Male and female tone influence the audience’s perspective of their control; often deeper voices are seen with more confidence and control compared to a high-pitched voice.

“We think of a commanding presence of a voice as being the male’s voice,” Lavender said. “As soon as I open my mouth, I would be heard differently than my male competitor.”


2. Women are often criticized for being too “emotional”
After losing the Iowa primary in 2008, Hillary Clinton appeared teary-eyed in photographs. Soon after, media comments claimed weepy candidates were not fit to run the country. But the snickers and comments subsided when Mitch McConnell, Darrell Issa and John Boehner blatantly cried in public. Although Wolfgang Frick, freshman and Young Conservatives member, agrees women are judged differently than males, he believes a candidate has to go into the competition ready to face whatever the media may call them.

“It’s really up to [the candidate] because they decided to run, and they have to face whatever they call you,” Frick said. “I feel that if a candidate is insulted, then they cannot let it get to them because it shows that they are not ready.”


3. Balance of family and work
When Paul Ryan, R-Wis., argued he would not give up family time in order to run in the 2016 presidential campaign, the GOP compromised immediately to allow for more personal time. Yet Tom Patton, the Ohio Senate Majority Leader, criticized his female running mate only three months later for risking time with her 1 and 3-year-old children. In other words, a male candidate’s appearance would not change if he had or did not have children. Women without children are seen as selfish or unnatural, according to a study in the December 2011 Gender Issues journal. Media often advertises women without children to be a crone figure, which is not an image America typically wants in it’s government.


4. Public appearance
Female candidates have to appear regal and are constantly under scrutiny for their appearance, Paul Fahri said in The Washington Post. In other words, the public often subconsciously judges women on a different standard compared to men regarding public appearances. Females are expected to have their makeup done and hair styled at all times.

“Men show up in blue jeans, and maybe a polo shirt and women will always show up with pants, a top, [and] a jacket with makeup on,” Lavender said. “If women wore blue jeans and a polo shirt to the same event, it’s like ‘Oh my goodness who let her out of the house this morning.’”


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