By Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D. Professor of Sociology
The first 44 American Presidents have been men including the current President Obama; the first African American President. If elected during next month, Hillary Clinton is likely to become the first woman to become President of the most powerful country on earth. Women always face a double standard when it comes to judging their efforts at doing virtually anything that has been men-dominated. Exactly the same thing that is positive when a man does it will be judged negatively when a woman does it.
The leading criticism by some of her harshest opponents in the Republican Party and even some supporters in her own Democratic Party is that Hillary Clinton desperately wants to become president just for herself because she is selfish. If you listen to these critics, once Hillary Clinton is elected, she will sit in the closet in the White House and cherry pick every day what she does to see if there is anything for herself personally. When men Presidential candidates exhibit similar desperation to become President, it is called being ambitious, tenacious, determined to achieve one’s life goal, and being aggressive. These qualities are said to be very good for a man.
Her opponents say she is untrustworthy or tell lies. The evidence for this are a number of controversial incidents in her long public service career. Where no evidence was found of wrong doing, she was still believed to have not told the truth, was hiding something, or told lies. The most blatant of these incidents is when she was Secretary of State in the Obama administration for 4 years. Her Republican opponents have dubbed this “Benghazi” where the opponents say her inaction, actions, stand down orders and her lies may have caused the deaths of 4 Americans including Ambassador Christie. But what the Republican critiques blatantly ignore is that there have been 10 Congressional investigations, some of them bipartisan, about the Benhgazi tragedy. None of them have found any wrong doing by Hillary Clinton. The opposition and critiques just ignore facts.
Opponents say that Hillary Clinton is not qualified to be President of the United States. She has been in public service and government for more than 35 years. She lived and worked as an attorney in the State of Arkansas for many years with her husband, the then Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton. She has worked on public policy. She was first lady when Bill Clinton was President for 8 years. She was elected New York State Senator and was Secretary of State. She is actually over qualified to be President. President Obama even admitted to this fact during the Democratic Convention speech in July. If she was a man, her election to be President would have been a cake walk just based on her experience alone.
When Hillary Clinton makes public campaign speeches where she needs to raise her voice to emphasize a point, she is called being “shrill” or “shouting”. Of course when a man or when President Obama made speeches during his election campaign in 2008 to large mass rallies, he was just making sure he was being heard. Women’s voices will always sound shrill because their voices have naturally a higher pitch. If top leadership has always been associated with men’s deep baritone voices, then women may always be at a disadvantage.
Because her recently private email server controversy, opponents say Hillary Clinton is too secretive. Her critiques give one the impression that she should always just tell everything openly and be close to perfect when making judgements about balancing privacy, confidentiality and how much the public should know. If a man did what she did, he would be a good politician, private, responsible, creative, and technologically savvy.