“The conservative Drudge Report even suggested she was holding a walker on the cover of People magazine — except that the walker was actually a patio chair,” said Jill Lawrence.
The Hillary Clinton Age Trap
Byline: Jill Lawrence
News Publication: Al-Jazeera America
Date: June 5, 2014 2:00AM ET
Link to news story: http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/6/hillary-clinton-agehealthgopkarlrove.html
According to Jill Lawrence, the issues of age in presidential campaigns, is an inevitable one. Prospects such as Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and John McCain all had to deal with it, and Hillary Clinton is no exception. However, one could argue that, as a woman, Clinton was destined to receive negative attention on relatively superficial factors like; her appearance, tone and age.
Playing the “age card” – as the title suggests- is a trap! Individuals from opposing political parties and campaign teams are guilty of leaking unflattering photos of Clinton to create an image as a feeble old woman whose time has gone and passed. It’s a trap because, rather than judging Clinton based on her experience and political intelligence- like a man would be judged- critics would rather highlight her age, knowing that the masses already believe that older women are useless.
Make no mistake, considering the ages and health status of prospective presidents is absolutely necessary and perhaps, should be a requirement. However, the likelihood of a man being labeled as incompetent based on his age and or health, is slim, in comparison to a woman. In general, a man’s wisdom is respected in today’s culture and in many cases, highly sought after. On the other hand, women dread getting older because they know where society will place them and it isn’t anyplace glamorous.
The opinion of a man in his declining years is more likely to be accepted by the public without hesitation; assuming that he knows what he is talking about. Not only would his opinion be accepted fairly easily, in many cases it would be requested.
In society today, the older a man gets, the more valuable he becomes, whereas the older a woman gets the more useless she becomes, and is often deemed as damaged goods.
According to Jill Lawrence, The conservative Drudge Report even went as far as suggesting that Clinton was holding a walker on the cover of People magazine (shown in the above image) when it clearly was a patio chair. Considering the amount of people that take information presented via mass media, as the gospel, this could have really hurt her campaign, or even worse, confirmed the notion that mature women are in fact too weak to stand on their own.
Because this is an opinion piece, the information is obviously slanted, and like the writer, I too am bias to the Clinton age- bashing going on in the media. Mass media and society, combined, have a history of not giving women a fair chance: i.e. you’re too old; rather than, you’re not suitable because of X, Y and Z.
One of the take away messages of the story was “the unsettling fact that when Clinton is perceived as vulnerable or a victim, her poll numbers soar,” –Lawrence. For example, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, where she was viewed as the wronged woman and also how she gained ground after Republican Rick Lazio aggressively invaded her space at a 2000 Senate debate in New York.
It is fascinating to see the difference in what types of scandalous information- based on stereotypes and gender roles- would be considered appealing to the public. If the media would have reported that John McCain’s wife had an inappropriate relation with an intern, he would not be pitied as Hilary Clinton was, and he definitely would have gained support from it. He would have been seen as week and incapable of controlling his own home let alone the country.
Throughout the story, Lawrence tried to provide an alternative image to the feeble old lady. I believe she wrote this story to add to the solution of gender discrimination in politics and everywhere else in the media.