It is More Than Just Politics Gender and Political ADS


The Presidential Campaign of 2016 struck as one of the most interesting races due to its plethora of evidence on gender's effect in political campaigns. Hillary Clinton ran as the first woman, Democratic Presidential nominee while Donald Trump served as one of the first Republican Presidential nominees with no prior experience in politics.

Political Ads of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump played an integral role in demonstrating how gender can play a key role in politics. Both Clinton and Trump utilized their gender as tactics to appeal to voters. Through Clinton's empowerment of women and show v.s tell method in her campaigns and Trump's attack on Clinton's character as well as political expertise, gender adequately demonstrated how it can play a key role in political campaigns.

Women Empowerment

In this particular political campaign ad, Hillary utilizes her gender to push for a certain message. Her usage of only having females in the campaign as well as the repetition of the pronouns "she" and "her" demonstrate how gender played a role. Clinton emotionally appeals to her audience by letting viewers hear the derogatory statements Trump made. Trump consistently utilized the pronouns "she" and "her" which helped emphasize the gender of who he was referring to. In the ad, the young women seem to be pondering about their appearance as Trump's statements are playing in the background. The ad utilized young women which helped appeal to viewers' emotions since children often evoke empathy. The young women seem to doubt their confidence throughout the video due to Trump's statements about women. Since Trump's statements often focused on criticizing women's appearance, a gender bias can be seen. Throughout Trump's statements, Trump does not attack aspects about women that can equally apply to men. Instead, he emphasized physical aspects of women thus evoking gender to come into play in their political campaigning against each other.


The manner in which gender plays a role in this particular ad is more discrete. Trump attempts to attack Clinton's character by questioning the integrity and honesty she may possess as a future leader. The ad may seem effective because it adequately shows how Clinton's email scandal shows she is not honest, but when looking at the ad through a gendered lens, the effectivity amplifies. Women are perceived to be more honest than men thus by questioning Clinton's honesty as a woman, the effect of making Clinton appear untrustworthy doubles. Since society has a preconceived notion that woman should be honest, Clinton's lack of honesty creates a double barrier where she is seen as unqualified not only because she is dishonest but because she is a woman and she should be honest.


Show versus Tell

Another interesting manner in which gender played a key role in the Presidential campaign ads of 2016 is through Clinton's show versus tell tactic. In the ad, Clinton utilizes her previous experience in the political realm to demonstrate why she is qualified to be President of the United States. Though many may think showing examples of how she is qualified is a common method among all political leaders, Clinton's method of particularly relating how qualified she is to specific events or circumstances in which she has shown how qualified she is reveals a layer of how gender plays a role into this campaign. In the political realm, men can often speak about what they will do for the well being of their people, and people will believe it while women do not have to only say what they will do but have to show evidence of how they are going to go about it. Since Clinton is a woman, she is cognizant of this and decided to tackle this gender bias by utilizing her 30 years of experience to show and tell how she is adequately fit to be President.

Roles and Notions

Trump played gender into another one of his campaign ads by his implementation of gender roles in the family as well playing into preconceived notions of women's political expertise. In this ad, Trump attacks Clinton's lack of importance to the security of the nation. Areas such as security and economy are often seen as strong areas for men while healthcare and education are seen as strong areas for women. By portraying Clinton as ill informed into an area usually associated with men, Trump is not only making Clinton seem as unqualified to be President but also contributing to the gender bias already seen with being President. Since all of the U.S' Presidents have been male, they have already been associated with areas such as security whether they performed well in this area during their Presidency or not. By having Clinton be a woman and be portrayed as uninformed in an area already associated with previous Presidents, Trump effectively utilizes her gender to make the public question her credibility as a potential President.

Gender also played a role in this campaign ad through its suggestive gender roles in the family. Trump enforces a "strong" America through his adjective usage of "secure" and "safe." Since throughout 2016 Americans grew concerned over the issue of terrorism, Trump utilized the American people's concerns as a tactic of appealing to them. What was interesting was that when he mentioned words like "safe" throughout the ad, footage of families with men taking initiative appeared. This sense of demonstration of what safety looks like enforced gender roles. The men are only seen taking initiative in the footage suggesting men have a more dominant role in the family thus having a better ability to keep their family safe. In turn, the ad attempts to prove Clinton does not have the capability to keep families safe because it is the role of men to do so.


What do your findings reveal about the role of gender in election 2016?

My findings reveal that gender did in fact play a key role in the election of 2016. Many people believed Clinton would not face adversity due to her gender because she had previous experience in politics, but in fact she did. Many of the biases she experienced did not appear to be due to her gender but most of the criticism she received were from instilled gender notions in society. This was quite interesting to find because people are less likely to recognize that most of the criticism she received was gendered due to their lack of knowledge of gender stereotypes in the political world.

To what degree do you believe gender influenced electoral strategy and/or outcomes?

I believe gender may have been the reason for Clinton's loss in the Presidential 2016 election. One of the main concerns with Clinton was her integrity and honesty as a candidate. She was heavily criticized for her emails, and the American people felt she was dishonest because of them. Since trustworthiness is a trait often associated with women, Clinton suffered heavily due to the American's people notion that she lacked this trait. Also, she was heavily criticized for her appearance as well as embracing her gender which they often called the "pulling the women card." These are actions by the media that are often only done to women to portray them in such a way that they will be disliked.

What do your findings demonstrate about gender progress (or lack thereof) in U.S. electoral politics?

My findings demonstrate the American people need time adjusting to emerging women in a male-dominated area. Since there are fewer women in the political realm, some of the barriers women have faced due their gender are undermined. I believe as more women engage themselves politically, society will become more comfortable with seeing women in political positions as well as recognizing the barriers women face due to their gender.

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