Gender Politics, 2016-Style
The slogan, “I’m Ready for Hillary,” is meant to answer the question, “Is America ready to have a woman president?” As with many things, the United States is late to the party. Sri Lanka’s Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the first female prime minister in 1960. Indira Ghandi became Prime Minister of India in 1966. Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969. Isabel Peron was President of Argentina in 1974. Elisabeth Domitien was appointed prime minister of the Central African Republic in 1975. Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of Britain in 1979.
AND there were Portugal, Bolivia, Dominica, Iceland, Norway, Malta, Philippines, Pakistan, Haiti, Lithuania, Nicaragua, Ireland, Bangladesh, France, Poland, Turkey, Canada, Burundi, Rwanda, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka (again), Haiti (again), New Zealand, Guyana, Switzerland, Panama, Latvia, Finland, Senegal, Indonesia, Sao Tome, Serbia, Finalnd (again), Peru, Macedonia, Ukraine, Germany, Liberia, Jamaica, Chile, South Korea, Israel (again), India (again), Moldova, Iceland (again), Croatia, Lithuania (again), Madagascar, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Austrialia, Kyrgyzstan, Slovakia, Brazil, Kosovo, Thailand, Denmark, Malawi, South Korea (again), Slovenia, Turkey, Central African Republic (again), Latvia (again), Croati (again), and Namibia.
The full list is available here.
They’ve all had women heads of government. Some more than once. And now, I’m embarrassed that we’re even asking if America is ready to have a woman president.
Of course, we have had two women on the ticket: Geraldine Ferarro in 1984 (when Dems lost even her home state of New York—yes, New York), and Sarah Palin (when the GOP lost by ten million votes). Apparently, we weren’t ready for a woman vice president. . . .
FiveThirtyEight did a study of how Americans have felt about having a woman president, going back to 1937.
In January of 1937, the Gallup Poll, then in its second year of existence, posed this question: “Would you vote for a woman for president if she was qualified in every other respect?” Sixty-four percent of Americans said no. . .
In 1940, three years after Gallup’s initial survey, the question was asked again, this time by People’s Research Center. Respondents were less inclined to vote for a woman — 73 percent said no.
By 1945, Americans were more amenable to the idea, although Gallup had changed the question slightly: “If the party whose candidate you most often support nominated a woman for president of the United States, would you vote for her if she seemed best qualified for the job?” Fifty-five percent of Americans still said “no. . .”
Four years later, in 1949, public opinion was split: 48 percent said they’d vote for a woman, 48 percent said they wouldn’t.
The question wasn’t asked much in the 1950s and 1960s, but in the 1970s, during the women’s movement, it appeared with regularity in surveys. A majority of Americans came around to the idea: 66 percent in 1971, 76 percent in 1978, 82 percent in 1987 and 92 percent in 1999.
So, in other words, for the past 40 years, three-quarters of Americans have been “ready” for a woman president. OK, so. . .what about this year?
Well, not all endorsements are helpful.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said that Donald Trump might come to regret his comments about women’s looks because “there are probably more ugly women in America than attractive women.”
“Ugly women for Hillary.” Has a ring to it. But then, so does, “Babes for Trump.”
Trump boasts a large group of voters who will stand by him no matter what, and at least a sizable number happen to be women. In a March 23 Quinnipiac poll, 26% of women polled had a “somewhat favorable” or “strongly favorable” opinion of the candidate, and it’s worth noting that Trump’s chief spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, is a woman. . .
Many of Trump’s most vocal female supporters can be found on Twitter. This includes the Twitter page, “Babes for Trump,” whose tweets include photos of young women in various states of undress, pledging their support for the candidate, sometimes with pro-Trump slogans written on their bodies.
Then, there’s “Hookers for Hillary.”
Prostitutes from Dennis Hof’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Mound, Nevada have officially endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
But then, there’s also a pioneer of the men’s movement. . .
Warren Farrell is the father of the men’s rights movement, and has dedicated his life’s work to countering the feminist message that we live in a patriarchal society where the rules are made by men to benefit men.
But Farrell, now in his 70s, is also a lifelong liberal who started out his career in gender issues as a feminist. . . He’s also been a fan of Hillary Clinton for decades. . . He’s donated the maximum allowable amount to her primary bid.
If even a pioneer of the men’s movement is for Hillary, does Trump have any chance? Maybe.
[Recent] numbers indicate that Trump’s approval among women has been climbing modestly since March, while his disapproval ratings are declining. And most of the commentary about Trump’s relationship with women is a product of looking at him and at Hillary Clinton through a gender lens only. If the sole question is which of them is more pro-women, of course she wins. But if one replaces the gender lens with an economic lens, the landscape of women voters takes on a completely different focus. . .
Trump would be smart to target women on economic issues — not only because many of them bristle at his boorishness, but also because a majority of women voters think economic conditions right now are bad under President Obama’s leadership (compared to a minority of men). As long as Hillary Clinton pledges to continue Obama’s agenda, Trump has an opening to reinforce this negative assessment among women of Obama and the economy — and to tie Clinton to the President’s kite in the process.
So. . .to recap. . .we’re just about the only country in the world not to have had a woman leader. . .but for the last 40 years, 3/4 of us think it’d be a good idea. . .and the groups on each side include “Ugly Women for Hillary,” “Babes for Trump,” “Hookers for Hillary,” and “Men’s Rights Pioneers for Hillary,” but Trump could win women, because, “It’s the Economy, Stupid.”