Advertisement

Gendered Metaphors of Women in Power: the Case of Hillary Clinton as Madonna, Unruly Woman, Bitch and Witch

  • Elvin T. Lim

Abstract

Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first First Lady to move into the White House with a full-time professional career of her own, the first First Lady to win elected office in the US Senate, and the first woman to seriously contend for a major party’s nomination for the US presidency. As Hillary Clinton stood at the frontier of women’s struggle to break into the public sphere in their own right, she became the target for a number of highly stylised and gendered metaphors used to conceptualise her role in public life. Defenders and critics of Hillary Clinton have characterised her as a Madonna, an Unruly Woman and variants thereof: a Bitch, and a Witch.1 In this chapter, I critically examine the usage of these metaphors in books and newspaper articles about the senator by neutral observers, her supporters and detractors to unpack the layers of resistance that still exist against women in American public life. My thesis is that gendered conceptual metaphors, in variously imposing and/or retracting ‘masculine’ and/or ‘feminine’ traits, empower and disempower woman leaders.2 Indeed, while some gendered conceptual metaphors of women in power (Madonna and Unruly Woman) give only by taking, others (Bitch and Witch) mostly only take.

Keywords

Public Sphere Trojan Horse Source Domain Conceptual Metaphor Double Bind 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Anderson, Karrin V. and Kristina H. Sheeler. 2005. Governing Codes: Gender, Metaphor, and Political Identity. Oxford, UK: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  2. Buchanan, Bay. 2007. The Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Carville, James and Mark Penn. 2006. ‘The Power of Hillary’. Washington Post, 2 July 2006, B7, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/30/AR2006063001478.html (accessed 18 December 2007).Google Scholar
  4. Clinton, Hillary R. 1996. It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  5. Clinton, Hillary R. 2003. Living History. New York: Scribner.Google Scholar
  6. Clinton, Hillary R. 2007. ‘Remarks at the Iowa Jefferson-Jackson Dinner’. 10 November 2007, http://www.hillaryclinton.com/news/speech/view/?id=4156 (accessed 17 June 2008).Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, Jeffrey. 2000. ‘The Polls: Public Attitudes toward the First Lady’. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 30: 375–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, Jeffrey. 2003. ‘Presidential Greatness as Seen in the Mass Public: an Extension and Application of the Simonton Model’. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 33: 913–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dow, Bonnie. 1996. Prime-Time Feminism: Television, Media Culture, and the Women’s Movement since 1970. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  10. Dowd, Maureen. 2008. ‘Begrudging his Bedazzling’. The New York Times, 27 February 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/27/opinion/27dowd.html (accessed 16 June 2008).Google Scholar
  11. The Economist. 2007. ‘The Cracks Begin to Show: Hillary Clinton Inevitable No More’. 13 December, http://www.economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10286068 (accessed 16 June 2008).Google Scholar
  12. Filger, Sheldon. 2006. Hillary Clinton Nude: Naked Ambition, Hillary Clinton and America’s Demise. Bloomington, Ind.: AuthorHouse.Google Scholar
  13. Gerth, Jeff and Don Van Natta Jr. 2007. Her Way: the Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton. New York: Little, Brown.Google Scholar
  14. Gordon, Ann and Jerry Miller. 2001. ‘Does the Oval Office Have a Glass Ceiling? Gender Stereotypes and Perceptions of Candidate Viability’. White House Studies, 1: 325–33.Google Scholar
  15. Haste, Helen. 1994. The Sexual Metaphor: Men, Women, and the Thinking that Makes the Difference. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Healy, Patrick and Julie Bosman. 2008. ‘Clinton Campaign Starts 5-Point Attack on Obama’. The New York Times, 26 February 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/26/us/politics/26clinton.html(accessed 16 June 2008).Google Scholar
  17. Held, Virginia. 1987. ‘Feminism and Moral Theory’, in Eva F. Kittay and Diana T. Meyers (eds) Women and Moral Theory. Totowa, NJ: Rowman & Littlefield, 111–28.Google Scholar
  18. Ivie, Robert L. 1990. ‘Cold War Motives and the Rhetorical Metaphor: a Framework of Criticism’, in Martin J. Medhurst, Robert L. Ivie, Phillip Wander and Robert L. Scott (eds) Cold War Rhetoric: Strategy, Metaphor, and Ideology. New York: Greenwood Press, 73–4.Google Scholar
  19. Johnston, Caroline. 1992. Sexual Power: Feminism and the Family in America. Tuscaloosa, Ala.: University of Alabama Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kann, Mark E. 1998. A Republic of Men: the American Founders, Gendered Languages, and Patriarchal Politics. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Ketcham, Ralph. 1987. Presidents above Party: the First American Presidency, 1789–1829. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  22. Klein, Edward. 2005. The Truth about Hillary. New York: Sentinel.Google Scholar
  23. Klein, Rick and Mike Chesney. 2007. ‘The Note: Hillary Inevitable No More?’ ABC News.com, 20 November 2007, http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/TheNote/Story?id=3891128&page=1, (accessed 17 December 2007).Google Scholar
  24. Lakoff, George. 1987. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1981. ‘Conceptual Metaphor in Everyday Language’, in Mark Johnson (ed.) Philosophical Perspectives on Metaphor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  26. Limbacher, Carl. 2003. Hillary’s Scheme: Inside the Next Clinton’s Ruthless Agenda to Take the White House. New York: Three Rivers Press.Google Scholar
  27. Noonan, Peggy. 2007. ‘Sex and the Presidency: Being a Woman is Mrs. Clinton’s Biggest Asset — and She’s Trying to Seem Like One. The Wall Street Journal, 19 October 2007, http://opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110010751 (accessed 14 December 2007).Google Scholar
  28. Obama, Barack. 2006 The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. New York: Crown.Google Scholar
  29. Olson, Barbara. 1999. Hell to Pay: the Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing.Google Scholar
  30. Podhoretz, John. 2006. Can She be Stopped? Hillary Clinton Will Be the Next President of the United States Unless … New York: Crown Forum.Google Scholar
  31. Richards, I. A. 1936. The Philosophy of Rhetoric. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Roper, Jon. 2004. ‘George W. Bush and the Myth of Heroic Presidential Leadership’. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 34: 132–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ruddick, Sarah. 1980. ‘Maternal Thinking’. Feminist Studies, 6: 342–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sheehy, Gail. 1999. Hillary’s Choice. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  35. The New York Times. 2008. ‘The Democratic Debate in New Hampshire’. 5 January, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/us/politics/05text-ddebate.html?_r=2&pagewanted=15&oref=slogin (accessed 7 January 2008).Google Scholar
  36. Troy, Gil. 2006. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Polarizing First Lady. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elvin T. Lim 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elvin T. Lim
    • 1
  1. 1.Wesleyan UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations