Key Findings and Overall Message

By: Tyler Newbold

The overall key finding in our cartoons is that the media portray Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin as being  inferior to the task at hand. We have found that the media have treated Palin gentler than Clinton even though both have been criticized. It seems that the idea of a man being able to perform better than a woman, especially in political jobs of high stature, plays into the persistently negative framings of the two female candidates.

The New York Times article titled, "Women are Never Front Runners" portrays this when it states that the United States is less likely to elect women because the majority of the political system is made up of men. It seems that even though we live in a democracy, gender roles are polarized a lot more than in many other countries. The idea and expectation that women should be in the kitchen and not in the White House definitely affects Hillary and Palin in their political conquests.

Throughout the election Hillary Clinton has been accused of being too masculine and unattractive, all while being criticized and blamed for her use of the gender card as a means to her political gain. In the image above, we created a visual representation of the main framings found within our political cartoons. It was also common for Hillary to be accused of relying on her husband or using his past presidential status to her advantage.  In the cartoon below we also see many of the criticisms commonly made of Hillary.

As for the basic impression of physical appearance, Hillary is obviously being depicted as having a hideous appearance with a wrinkled face and large “masculine” shoulders. By wearing all of her “medals of honor” she is showing that although she is a woman, she has all of the qualifications needed to run a powerful country. But even though Hillary has many qualifications and political experience, it seems like no matter what quality she has whether it is good or bad, the media frames it in a negative light. For example, the pin saying “stood by my man” would normally have the connotation of being a loyal wife, but instead the cartoonist mocks this trait making a seemingly good quality into a scornful feature.

Throughout the 2008 election political cartoonists have framed Sarah Palin through several main ways. The overall frames we found depicted Palin as being inexperienced, expensive, attractive and a hypocrite. Nate Beeler of The Washinton Examiner drew the cartoon portraying Palin seen below. This cartoon frames Palin as being an attractive woman who is extremely inexperienced. McCain presents Palin as having the qualifications needed to run the country, but shows her off as if she is qualified because of her looks alone. Other main criticisms were for her $150,000 wardrobe, framing her as expensive and hypocritical for attempting to promote herself as an average American. Another reason she was framed as hypocritical was because she advocates sex education and abstinence, while her teenage daughter is pregnant.

Although Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are depicted differently within political cartoons, the major differences come when comparing the diversity in characteristics between male and female candidates. How often do we hear about the cost of John McCain’s wardrobe, or the parental skills of Barack Obama? These women are often times criticized not just for their political knowledge, but also for their appearance and the other attributes expected of a woman in politics.  

Even though Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are overwhelmingly negatively criticized, they have still made great strides for women.