If I didn’t care so much about this damn election, I’d forget the politics and just intently await the answer to a fascinating sociological question. Can a woman in American politics, especially one running for president, prosper by being harsh?
Let me be clear. From a personal standpoint, I believe women in politics should be judged by no different standard than men. If we admire brutal toughness in a male candidate, we should admire it just as much in a female running for office.
But at age 52, I’ve long since discovered that not everything I believe ends up carrying the day.
And what’s interesting about the Democratic debate that just concluded, from a sociological standpoint, is how completely Hillary Clinton broke the traditional gender rules for a female advocate. In general, it has long been accepted (as a trial lawyer I know a little about this) that a woman can appear tough and be effective, but she can’t afford to come across as harsh. When a woman advocate becomes harsh, according to the conventional wisdom, she turns off a lot of people.
Tonight, Hillary Clinton was harsh — impressively so intellectually, but harsh.
While I’m not a Hillary supporter, as a strong believer in equality for women, I hope she isn’t punished for this, at least in a gender biased fashion. I hope we’ve moved past that so that men and women are judged alike in such matters.
But to be honest, I think she may be. Maybe not among Democrats, who tend to be more liberal in such matters, but more broadly in the general election.
But if nothing else, it should be a learning experience.
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