His conciliatory empathic style and willingness to negotiate with “evil” foreign powers made him appear more feminine than his female rival, Hillary Clinton, who performed a more masculine demeanor and espoused a tough stance toward Iran. Although Beam’s more feminine presentation downplayed white fear, it was also risky to his candidacy because it raised the question of whether he is masculine enough for the job. 8 Ironically, perhaps it was his blackness that imbued Obama with sufficient masculinity to successfully walk the tightrope between being too masculine and too feminine, t
William S. Boyd Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Lass Vegas. Thanks to Frank Rudy Cooper for his encouragement with this essay and for his editorial comments. Thanks also to Mitt Galatia and Jeff Steppes for their editorial comments.
The 2008 Presidential campaign highlighted three strong, interesting, and very different women-Hillary Clinton, Sarah Plain and Michelle Obama-who negotiated identity performances in the political limelight. Because of their diverse backgrounds, experience, 10 and ages, an examination of how these three women performed their identities and the public response to them offers a rich understanding of the changing nature of gender, gender roles, age, sexuality and race in our culture.
This study suggests that Professor Cooper’s optimism that Beam’s race and gender performances may have removed the stigma from “the feminine” may be misplaced, at least when it Comes to women aspiring to high public office. Indeed, a review of the publics reaction to the gender, race, and class performances of these three women confirms that omen aspiring to high public office continue to suffer intense public scrutiny of their gender performances. Part I provides background for my analysis of these three women’s identity performances and the public reactions to them.
It discusses contemporary theories of identity performance, gender and leadership. Part II applies the theory and research to the public careers of Hillary Clinton, Sarah Plain and Michelle Obama and observes that although women still face significant obstacles in the public arena, there may be more acceptance of women as political candidates than in the past. The essay includes that the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Sarah Plain and the public appearance of Michelle Obama as a successful career woman, who is also a wife of the winning candidate, have moved women one step further toward equality in the national political scene.
Moreover, the public may be more willing to consider women’s identities to include a mix of both traditional family values and competence in one’s career. By the same token, women’s identities as aspiring political leaders continue to be problematic, and require women to negotiate a double bind: if they are too feminine, they are deemed incompetent. If they are too masculine, they are considered not likeable. 9. Old. 10. Hillary Clinton has served in three different public roles over a period of sixteen years, She served as first lady to Bill Silicon’s Presidency, Junior Senator from New York, and candidate for President of the United States.
She is now about to embark on a new role as Secretary of State. Heinlein 86 Eden. U. L. Rev. 710 2008-2009 2009] CLINTON, PLAIN AND OBAMA I. IDENTITY, GENDER AND LEADERSHIP This part explains the theory of identity performance at work-how individuals work their identities in workplaces. It then applies identity performance hero to the political arena, exploring the differences between performing one’s identity at work and in political campaigns. Finally, it discusses research on gender and leadership that demonstrates that women in leadership positions are judged more harshly than their male counterparts.
Because this is true, it is considerably more difficult for women leaders to navigate and perform their identities. A. Performing Negotiating Identities in Workplaces In Working Identities, Devon Carbon and Mitt Galatia explain that individual identities are not fixed, but are negotiated and performed. 1′ For example, a errors negotiates between his sense of self or self identity and his attributed identity, how others perceive him. In order to achieve certain reactions from others, an individual may perform identity in different ways.
For example, in a firm that values hard work, an employee may work late, mention to colleagues how tired she is because she has worked late so many evenings, or leave her office light on so it appears that she is there even after she leaves the office. 12 Carbon and Galatia posit that all individuals perform identity, but they demonstrate that when outsiders 1 3 perform their identities at work, hey risk working against some stereotypes but confirming others. 4 For example, if a workplace values hard work, creativity and a quick intelligence, a black law firm associate may find performing his identity difficult. If he chooses to counter the stereotype that blacks are lazy by working diligently, his behavior may confirm in the minds of his employers the stet retype that blacks are not as intelligent or as quick as whites. 1 All of these behaviors by outsiders entail not only public performances but also internal negotiations with the self about how much an employee is willing or able to reform an identity desired by the firm without losing a sense of self. Because members of outsider groups “perceive themselves as subject to negative stereotypes, they are also likely to feel the need to do significant amounts of ‘extra’ identity work to counter those stereotypes. ‘” Even while attempting to conform to institutional values, an outsider might compromise herself and confirm negative stereotypes. If the 11. Carbon & Galatia, supra note 2, at 1260-61, 1261 n. 2. 12. Old. At 1260. 13. For this purpose, “outsiders” include white women, persons of color, and gays and lesbians. Old. At 1268. 14. Old. T 1262, 1270. 15. D. At 1292. 16. Old. At 1264. 17. Old. At 1262. Heinlein 86 Eden. U. L. Rev. 711 2008-2009 DENVER UNIVERSES LAW REVIEW [Volvo. 86. SO workplace values collegiality, for example, a young woman may choose to go out to bars after work with her colleagues, even though she sees herself as a loner or a homebody. This identity performance, however, may confirm the stereotype that women are sexual objects, and interested in having affairs with co-workers, especially if she joins in sexual banter or willingly goes to a strip club with her colleagues in order to fit in. Unlike a man who engages in he same behavior, the woman is viewed negatively because the firm defines collegiality in terms of what it perceives to be appropriate male behavior. Because societal norms continue to govern our judgments, a woman performing similar behavior runs the risk of disrespect. Stereotypes are comparative measurements to the standard bearer: the white, middle class, heterosexual male. When we judge a black man as not hard-working or a Korean woman as too hard-working, the judgment is based on the view that the ideal workers 8– the white, middle class, heterosexual male-works the proper amount.
But the irony is that even if it were possible to engage in exactly the same behavior as their white, heterosexual, male counterparts, outsiders may fail to meet community norms. In cases where the amount of work performed is measured, stereotypes about outsiders would likely color insiders’ perceptions of how much the outsiders worked. Stereotypes involving more qualitative judgments than the number of hours that a person works are even more difficult and risky to defeat.
Professor Cooper makes this point when he explains that in order to avoid the stereotype of the Bad Black Man, President Obama performs his identity as sees masculine, more feminine and community-oriented. 19 Obama learned early in life that in order to accomplish his goal of living within the white society, he had to give comfort to whites and allay their fears that he may be an aggressive black male. 2 B. Performing Plenipotentiaries DuringPresidentialCampaigns People perform their identities in the workplace; in the political arena, too, all politicians attempt to perform their identities to please the electorate.
During the long campaigns for President and Vice President, this is a complicated endeavor because unlike workplaces that have certain identifiable references and norms that remain fairly constant over time, the electorate represents a variety of different groups with different values whose views often change in reaction to ongoing current events. A candidate must perform an identity that is sufficiently constant to convey an air of confidence and imperviousness, but also sufficiently flexible to appeal to different constituencies and to respond to changing 18.
JOAN WILLIAMS, UNBENDING GENDER 64-66 (2000) (describing the “ideal worker” norms in the workplace). Cooper, supra note 1, at 636. 19. 20. Heinlein – – 86 Eden. U. L. Rev. 712 2008-2009 events. As events change, a candidate must adapt, performing identity in slightly different ways, while avoiding a charge that he or she is an opportunist. Getting “stuck” in an identity that is perceived to be inflexible and out of date, while simultaneously acting in erratic fashion as some claim that John McCain did, can be deadly to a campaign.
Because the roles of President and Vice President are gendered male and raced white, and because there has never been a woman or minority President or Vice President, an outsider running for these offices encounters obstacles that go beyond those faced by a heterosexual white male in estimating and performing identity as a political candidate. Voters often claim to vote based on the candidates’ personal characteristics rather than on the issues. 1 Because of stereotypes about the proper roles of men and women, and the normal cognitive process of categorizing these voters will likely judge the candidates’ personal characteristics through a distorted lens. This lens can lead to biased evaluations of the candidates even though the voter is unaware of the error. 22 C. Gender Roles and Leadership Notwithstanding sociologists’ and feminist scholars’ conclusion that gender oleos are learned behaviors, 23 people generally view gender as naturally derived from biological sex, and expect others to behave in a manner that conforms to their biological sex.
Women in leadership positions and doing jobs that are traditionally male are judged much more harshly than men. In “Goldberg” studies, for example, a participant evaluates resumes reflecting equivalent education and experience designated with men’s and women’s names. When the job is identified as requiring “male” characteristics, participants consistently rank the men’s resumes more highly than the women’s, even though the resumes are identical. 4 Gender roles and social incongruity explain these disparate results.
Gender roles are widely held beliefs about the attributes of men and women and the roles they play in society. They are based on descriptive and injunctive norms: descriptive norms describe how women and men 21. Carol polyps, Looking postseasons.