In the wake of terrorist attacks abroad and a greater sense of global insecurity, today’s presidential candidates have not only shifted their focus to foreign policy, but have heightened the rhetoric they use to credential themselves as the next Commander-in-Chief. This presidential role is arguably among the most difficult and consequential, but also replete with the most masculine expectations. The assertiveness, strength, independence, and emotional restraint expected of those who lead the nation’s military and make life-and-death foreign policy decisions align with stereotypical characteristics of masculinity and are those most associated with men. Additionally, research shows that men are presumed to be most competent on issues related to defense and foreign policy, each under the purview of the nation’s Commander-in-Chief.
There has been no shortage of gender bias in news, commentary, and candidate remarks over the past few weeks. In this installment of On the Bias, we talk about expectations of being a lady, the double standards that gender and party/ideology impose, and the gender lens through which we view anger and aggressive behavior.
During Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, Donald Trump interrupted an exchange between Carly Fiorina and Senator Rand Paul to tell Fiorina to stop interrupting. “Why does she keep interrupting everybody?” he asked. “Boy, terrible.”
When the women of The View debriefed about last week’s Republican debate, they followed a formula too familiar to female candidates. In commenting on Carly Fiorina’s performance, they shifted from substance to appearance, characterizing Fiorina’s face as “demented” and “like a Halloween mask.” Ironically enough, they made these comments in response to Fiorina’s rebuke of pundits who had similarly criticized her appearance, arguing that she should have smiled more in the previous debate. That criticism followed Donald Trump’s comments on Fiorina’s face ahead of the second GOP debate, when he told Rolling Stone, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!’