HILLARY’S UPHILL STRUGGLE AGAINST CULTURAL PERCEPTIONS AND STEREOTYPES
Dr. Joyce Watford, an Educator and a Descendant of American Slaves
September 9, 2016
Hillary Clinton’s uphill struggle against the Republican Presidential opponent, Donald Trump, keeps getting dragged down, for the most part, by gender gaps in how society views women and men, in what is still a man’s world. If she were a man running against Trump, would her polls be the same? Although Clinton outshines, outperforms, outsmarts, out-represents, out-exceeds Donald Trump on every issue in every way, Trump still continues to surpass her, or trail her too closely for comfort, even after she has repeatedly proven herself better qualified of the two Presidential nominees in every respect.
Why is that so?
Much of Hillary’s struggle is not really about Trump and her, per se, but is more about cultural gender perceptions and stereotypes, which simply come down to her being a woman and Trump, a man, in a man’s world. Cultural perceptions do not change quickly because, unfortunately, people do not evolve at the same rate. Only a few people are culturally flexible, while the majority of people are culturally inflexible. Because Hillary is a woman, treading on territory where women have not gone before, as far as she has gone, many people, unaccustomed to having a woman publicly going against a man, toe-to-toe, in a man’s world and winning against a man is inconceivable and, to them, cannot be happening because of their cultural perceptions and stereotypes of women. Their cultural perceptions dictate that they see women in a man’s world only in stereotypes, such as catty, she-devilish, bitchy, liars, conniving, cunning, distrustful, weak, not as qualified as a man, not as good as a man, etc., etc. No matter how much Hillary disproves their perceptions wrong, some people who are culturally inflexible just dig in their heels more and refuse to budge because, to do so, would be too unsettling, too chaotic, to their worldview.
Cultural changes are slow and obstinate without catastrophic events. However, we cannot afford to allow something catastrophic to happen before we can solidify our choices between Hillary and Donald for the 2017 Presidency of the USA. Too much is at risk. That is why we must challenge devolved, regressive perceptions and thought-patterns that threaten to upend this Presidential election.
How do we do that?
Hillary’s camp needs to continue doing what it is doing, but also broaden its scope of attack to include cultural perceptions of gender differences and the resulting stereotypes. Countering those stereotypes with undeniable images of the state-of-affairs in the country (and in the world) with only male-dominated leaders juxtaposed against real and hypothetical images of the same state-of -affairs with female leadership, including her own, in a typical man’s world, could be a strong, stabbing-attack strategy. Focusing on women (past and present) who have made differences for the better in a man’s world would be an effective strategy for shining light into the closed windows of some voters who cannot see any other possibilities beyond Trump (because he (a man) is all that they are accustomed to) could possibly open those windows to other thoughts that they are unable to have presently.
Culture is difficult to change because it is transmitted orally from generation-to- generation; but the more exposure people have, in general, to images or events that counter thought-patterns and entrenched beliefs, can begin to make inroads. Ads and events, showcasing counter-attacks on cultural perceptions of gender differences and stereotypes, could be an effective use of these media to accomplish campaign goals, committed to winning the upcoming election. It is not too difficult to find women who are building and changing lives, every day, in miracle-like ways, filled with wonder and awe. Often, when women get involved in seemingly intractable situations, things will begin to move and turn around. We do not often hear about most of these unnamed, unsung sheroes who are silent, steel magnolias whose voices we may never hear or know about their feats. But, believe me, they are out there, waiting to be discovered and heard.
However, a word of caution to Hillary and her camp is not to portray Hillary as a man in a woman’s body but to accentuate her feminine differences and instincts to reveal her the stronger, saner, more appealing, reliable, and trustworthy of the two nominees for the 2017 Presidential election.
In conclusion, Donald Trump must not win on old “fuddy-duddy” thought-patterns and beliefs that must be uprooted, at all costs, not only in this 2017 Presidential election but also in 21st Century, USA.