#GenderWatch2016 Pre-Debate Reading
Getting ready to watch tonight’s debate? Check out these articles on gender dynamics to watch for as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take the stage tonight (9pm EDT). Additional analyses, facts, and insights will be shared via Presidential Gender Watch’s facebook and twitter accounts throughout the day.
Be sure to live tweet the debate with us tonight, following #GenderWatch2016.
Before there was a woman nominee, women moderators provided gender diversity on the presidential debate stage.
In the summer of 2012, three high school students from New Jersey – Emma Axelrod, Elena Tsemberis and Sammi Siegel – launched a Change.org petition to demand a female moderator for at least one of that year’s presidential debates. They were successful. Of the four debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates in 2012, two were moderated by women; Candy Crowley moderated the second presidential debate at Hofstra University and Martha Raddatz moderated the vice presidential debate at Centre College. In only one other presidential election year had more than one woman sat in the moderator’s chair. In 1976, Barbara Walters and Pauline Frederick each moderated a presidential debate; men moderated one presidential debate and the vice presidential debate that year. Importantly, and particularly motivating to Emma, Elena, and Sammi’s petition, 2012 marked 20 years since the last woman had moderated a presidential debate. In 1992, Carole Simpson moderated the second presidential debate at the University of Richmond. In the intervening years, Gwen Ifill moderated two vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008.
Sexism or Not? The Danger of this Dichotomy in Election 2016
In a recent tweet, former Clinton advisor Peter Daou argued, “Make no mistake: the media’s obsession with forcing a Hillary press conference is ALL ABOUT HER GENDER.” The tweet sparked a swift and harsh response, with many – reporters foremost among them – discrediting Daou’s claim. They were right. A very basic measure of gendered double standards is whether or not the same questions would be asked of women and men. In this case, there is little evidence that a male presidential contender who had not held a press conference for over 250 days would be free from criticism.
For 227 years, looking presidential has meant being a man. Perhaps that’s what stumping Trump.
Does Hillary Clinton “look presidential?” Donald Trump says no, and he’s been making this point for at least the past three months of the presidential campaign. As early as May of this year, Trump asked a California audience, “Do you think Hillary looks presidential? I don’t think so.” He added another gender cue for good measure, “And I’m not going to say it, because I’m not allowed to say it, because I want to be politically correct. So I refuse to say that I cannot stand her screaming into the microphone all the time.” In June and July, he took to Twitter to reaffirm that Clinton (and the Clinton/Kaine ticket) doesn’t look presidential to him. On message, he used the same line of attack in Ashburn, Virginia and Des Moines, Iowa in August, telling audiences Clinton “doesn’t even look presidential” to him. This week, Trump’s comments garnered more attention, in part because he doubled down on them in an interview with ABC’s David Muir. On Labor Day, he asked a crowd of supporters in Cleveland about Clinton: “Does she look presidential, fellas? Give me a break.” Muir pushed Trump to explain what he means when he delivers this message. Trump responded, “I just don’t think she has a presidential look and you need a presidential look.”
Women won the right to vote in presidential elections 96 years ago. What if they hadn’t?
Today marks Women’s Equality Day, the day the ratification of the 19th amendment was certified. That amendment granted suffrage to women, marking the first time that women could vote in federal elections. Since then, women have emerged as the most reliable voters in American politics, turning out at higher rates than their male counterparts in every election since 1980. The 1980 election also featured a shift in gender preferences at the presidential level that has persisted until today; women have consistently been more likely than men to vote for Democratic nominees, while men have been more likely than women to favor Republican candidates for president. By these measures, the right women won 96 years ago has had a huge impact on American politics, especially in the past four decades.
Calling Our Attention to Women of Color
As we watched the achievements of U.S. Olympians this month, we were dazzled by several milestone achievements of women athletes, including many minority women athletes. Several Black women athletes won gold, most notably gymnasts Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas, swimmer Simone Manuel and shot putter Michelle Carter. Manuel was the first Black woman to win individual gold in swimming and Michelle Carter was the first U.S. woman to win gold for shot put. Women’s track and field have excelled with Allyson Felix becoming the most decorated female Olympian and the first ever U.S. sweep of the podium for 100-meter hurdles with Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali, and Kristi Castlin. Ibtihaj Muhammad also caught our attention for fencing while wearing a hijab, and will return to the U.S. with a bronze medal in hand. Some prominent Latinas won gold as well, including gymnast Laurie Hernandez, swimmer Maya DiRado, and weightlifter Sarah Robles. Laurie Hernandez served as the first Latina U.S. Olympic gymnast in a decade, and won an individual silver medal in addition to the team gold. There are also several Asian American notable athletes including swimmer Lia Neal, Taekwondo competitor Paige McPherson, and fencer Lee Kiefer. The many other gifted women athletes that dazzled us include the women’s rowing, gymnastics, and basketball teams. Overall, this year’s U.S. Olympic delegation included more women than men (292-263), the most women sent by any country, and – importantly – great diversity among them.
Winning Women: Why Seeing Women Slay Across Sectors Matters
By multiple measures, America’s women athletes are winning the Rio Olympics. For the second consecutive summer games, women are more than half of all athletes on Team USA. After the first 10 days of competition, they won 62% of the gold medals earned by the U.S. team; U.S. women won 12 individual and 4 team gold medals through Monday out of 26 total gold medals awarded thus far. U.S. women athletes also earned about half of the remaining medals that have kept the USA at the top of the medal count in Rio. Included among these wins have been myriad “firsts,” like the first African American woman to medal in Olympic swimming (Simone Manuel) and the first American Muslim woman to compete and medal wearing a hijab in competition (Ibtihaj Muhammad). Women have not only broken barriers, but shattered records; Katie Ledecky swept golds in individual events while breaking a world record; Simone Biles has already won more gold medals than any woman in U.S. Olympic history; Kim Rhode captured a medal in her sixth consecutive Olympics; and cyclist Kristen Armstrong became the first U.S. woman to win a gold in the same event in three consecutive Olympics. These women will be joined by others over the next week, further cementing the Rio Olympics as a success for U.S. women athletes.
Trump is his own Worst Enemy When it Comes to (Republican) Women Voters
Recently, Donald Trump reviewed his poll numbers with a North Carolina audience, noting, “I don’t know what’s going on with the women.” For some Republican women, the situation is much clearer. They have engaged in explicitly public efforts to oppose their own party’s nominee, creating one of the more interesting narratives of the 2016 presidential election. These women, many of whom identify as committed Republicans, have undertaken different strategies to criticize or derail Trump’s bid for President. Some women have declared their opposition to Trump well before he was their party’s nominee or, now that he is the nominee, their intention to not vote in the presidential contest and instead focus on supporting Republicans in competitive down-ballot contests. For other Republican women, the opposition to Trump is not enough. They have publicly declared their willingness to vote, if not raise money and campaign, for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton through the group Republican Women for Hillary. I will profile those Republican women who have specifically declared an intention to vote for Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in a future post, but focus here on the efforts of Republican women to oppose Trump but remain faithful to other GOP candidates.
DNC Speakers: By the Numbers
Now that the Democratic National Convention has closed, we looked back to identify gender differences in total speakers and speaking time. In this post, we also compare the gender parity in convention voices between the DNC and RNC, finding that women were seen and heard more at the Democrat’s convening.
What counts as sexist? This week’s DNC roll call might provide an example.
One of the challenging things for those who study gender politics and women candidates in American elections is answering the question “Is that sexist?” Political campaigns are rough and tumble affairs and do not always show people – voters, elected officials, candidates – as their best selves. So when we experience political campaigns in which women candidates take part and we analyze a particular situation, we are often left wondering whether something was sexist or not.