Illinois Senate Race 2016 Mark kirk v. tammy duckworth

The 2016 Senate race in Illinois was between incumbent Mark Kirk (R) and Tammy Duckworth (D). Like many races between men and women we can look at this elect with a gender lens and understand some of the decisions made and campaign strategies. Tammy Duckworth went against many known gender stereotypes. She also used her intersectionality to connect with more people. Duckworth was unique because of her military background which I think helped her in the race. This may be because it makes her more masculine and does not play into the gender roles. People did not question weather she was tough enough or could handle it. The Illinois Senate race between Duckworth and kirk has an interesting and unexpected view on gender.

Tammy Duckworth was the first Asian-American Congress woman for Illinois as well as the first disabled female veteran to take a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Duckworth was deployed to the Iraq War in 2004 where she lost both of her legs when her helicopter was hit. In 2006 she became the director of the Illinois department of veterans affairs. Following that, in 2009 Obama appointed her assistant secretary in the U.S. department of veterans affairs. Women may generally be seen as not tough enough or too soft to hold a high position in power but Tammy Duckworth's past made it clear she was capable of being a U.S. Senator.

The video above shows Mark Kirk questioning Tammy Duckworth's heritage and what many people felt like was a jab at her. Anther stereotype is that woman are emotional. Duckworth did not respond to the comment Kirk made is a negative way and did not choose to argue with him to get angry toward him. This made her look good and him look worse. She stayed calm and stayed on track by continuing to answer questions during the debate. Her campaign spokesman commented "Sen. Kirks statement speaks for itself, as does Tammy's response".

Women are often subject to more comments about their appearance. This may be their choice of clothes, hair style or make up. In this case the discrimination against Tammy Duckworth is saying she is focusing on what dress she is going to wear. This undermines that her speech has important information in it and now it causes people to focus on what she is wearing. It would never be a question of what suit a guy was going to wear to a speech. Tammy Duckworth was able to turn this situation to focus it back on her masculine quality of being in the military.


Gender in politics is not only an issue in the Presidential elects but also in smaller elections such as Senate elections in state. In this case we saw people questioning a female candidate because of her gender and race. A man was trying to make her smaller and her values and accomplishments so he would look better. In this case, Tammy Duckworth constantly had to reassure people she was strong enough and capable by reminding people of her military background. If she did not have this masculine stereotype background i wonder how she would have responded. Men often go after women's appearance also and this is just another way of saying women do not have the "look" to be in high elected positions. In this case, Tammy Duckworth was able to get through all the stereotypes and still come out on top winning the Illinois Senate seat in 2016.


Created with images by COD Newsroom - "Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth Visits College of DuPage 17"

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