Friday, June 27, 2014

Unfair Expectations of Hilary’s “Brand”

    Since the start of Hillary Clinton’s new book tour, there has been a discussion regarding her new “brand,” or lack thereof, and how it could affect her chance at the 2016 presidency. On Wednesday, Martha Pease wrote an opinion piece,  “Hillary Clinton's disappointing book rollout,” for CNN. She discusses how Clinton could have used this book tour as an opportunity to prove herself as a more likable, relatable candidate, who is less concentrated on herself and more focused on potential voters. While Pease brings up valid points, the need for a “brand” seems to be geared towards women as a way to show themselves as warm, approachable candidates. Yes, these traits are important, but women are typically scrutinized for them. Pease reveals interesting statistics for Hillary: “in a recent WSJ/NBC survey: 55% people rate her as competent, but 60% don't see her as likable.” Pease repeatedly notes that Clinton is “amazingly qualified,” yet she still lacks some sort of friendly component. This argument begs the question: if Clinton was a man, would there still be this kind of discussion? Pease also mentions that “leaders influence and persuade best when they connect to people first with warmth, followed with competency,” but this brings up a double standard. In order for women to show they are competent, they must show they can take a hard stance on certain topics. Women have to show voters that they are qualified and, sometimes, leave emotions out of it in order to gain legitimacy. While doing so, they are supposed to brand themselves as warm. Men are assumed to be qualified and therefore have an easier time showing compassion without the risk of being labeled as weak. So yes, perhaps Hillary could have used this tour as an opportunity to win over more voters, but it is absolutely necessary that this discussion leads to a broader conversation about the expectations of women candidates for office.
-Emily Schacter