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The 2008 election marked a significant change in the social, political and cultural lives of the American citizens. Rebecca Traister is a salon staff writer who wrote the book; 'Big Girls Don't cry' that covered the 2008 election for salon. She explored how the candidates, the campaigns and the media coverage of the race represented a sensitive moment for the history of gender in America.
Born in 1975 to a mother who was an English professor, she grew up in a society that did not regard women highly. Racial and social injustices surrounded her, but her father was a visionary and he kept giving her hope for change. She relates this story with her own story to the election by sharing how she started as Hillary Clinton's Detractor, but ended up supporting her at the end of the campaign.
The author's main agenda is to tell a story of change from a different time to the present using different perspectives of different people's lives. She talks of change to the country, to the democratic and republican parties, the women's movement and to the white house. She highlights the changes that have happened to the American citizen's perspectives and beliefs, social practices and politics over the past few years.
In this book, the author describes how the country and the people have come to accept new cultural changes. The fact that the new America can give her an avenue to air her voice through the book shows that the country has evolved to a democracy where everybody has the right to speak and be heard. The mass media has the liberty to follow up political stories using hasty comments and humor as opposed to the past, where they had to investigate and make carefully calculated reports. This marks significant growth on cultural acceptance. She portrays today's culture to be highly permissive as compared to the one in her teens, where women did not have a right to vote. As she writes this book, she is trying to show how cultural shifts have made it possible for the country to accommodate new political and social possibilities that were unexpected of in the past.
She talks of her goal to tell a story of women who participated in the 2008 elections and how that affected the perception of the whole world towards their participation. Her intention of this story is to prove that the notion of the 2008 presidential resulted in a failed feminism movement, was wrong. The fact that Hillary Clinton was the first woman to vie for the presidency seat showed progress on the feminist movement regardless of whether she won or not.
The support of Michelle Obama to the masses and to her husband proved stronger places for women in society. Sarah Palin was the first female Governor in Alaska is proof to the success of the feminist movement. The reaction to the success or failure of these women showed how far the society has come with their perception to women leaders and how far they are yet to go. Her goal in this book is to negate the notion that the failure of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton marked the fall of feminist activism.
The book investigates on the preparedness of the American citizens on the rapid cultural and political changes. Women have been fighting for leadership rights for a very long time, but when they got a real opportunity to support their own, they were not ready. There was significant let down on the female candidates as America is not ready yet for female leaders. Though the campaigns of Sarah and Hillary were unsuccessful, the cultural shifts and the arrival of Michelle Obama prompted revelations about the progress of the 21st century woman.
She gives hope to the female activists who are in the blink of a shut down due to the un-eventful losses of eminent female leaders in the past few years. Through her words of a promising future, she gives hope to the reader by describing how far the society has come and how far it is yet to go. She hopes for more stories to tell in the future of the female activism as portrays these women's strengths and their contribution to the movement. The author writes this book in support of the female activism to show that the movement has not seen the last of its activists, who through their strong opinionated views to the world will keep the movement going. She vows to continue with the support of women, even though sometimes they are hopeless as she gives the example of Sarah Palin.
The main argument in this essay is to negate the popular notion that there is proof that feminism failed after the 2008 elections. Political reporter Anne Kornblut wrote that the contest was a complete let down with damaging consequences to women. She claimed that this has set back the drive to equality in the political arena by decades. Similar reactions have been the experience since the end of the elections.
A particular blogger proclaimed that the year 2008 was when feminism, the women's liberation movement, ended up crashing. Claims have been made of people saying that the death of women's movement of the 1970s was because of the accomplishment of their set goals. Inequity is neither a concern nor a threat of the modern woman thus not giving much symbolic value to the possibility of having a woman in the presidential seat. This book is set to negate the fact that we live in a world in which gender inequality has been addressed.
In this essay, the author therefore, argues that the world has failed to recognize the fact that women have covered vast distances in defending and positioning themselves in leadership in the past few decades. She states "progress is not a straight line." Critics expected to see results instead of looking at the progress that women have covered over the past years.
She addresses the 2008 political turn out as a beginning of a new vision towards the new century female activism, as opposed to the death of the feminist movement. Failures of the two pioneers, Hillary and Sarah have not marked the end of the female activism, but the improvement of the same. Renewed conversations, arguments and attention to the topic has become more vibrant then before, hence birthing a new movement altogether. They have provided new career paths for critics and journalists as well as shaping the personal lives of the public. The first lady Michelle Obama who has beat the racism and stereotype claims is still representing strong female leaders.
There is proof that the movement is not dead, but it has taken a new turn. New reactions towards these women's participation in the 2008 elections have raised some bad and hopeful conversations. The author has used the casting of Geena Davis in the T.V show as the society's way of showing the acceptance of the idea of a female president. Her character in the show the fourth estate, though highly stereotyped with menopause jokes and children drama, led to a breed of open-minded viewers. She was a strong advocate for feminists all over the country as she attended their forums and commented on their blogs. Acceptance from the society of such a show promises progress and not death.
The obsession of the media towards Hillary and Palin are a clear indication of growth in interests. The media were constantly trying to acknowledge their difference in the way they talked, their dress code, their lifestyles and their ideologies. This shows that the world is in denial of how much they are interested to keep these women in the lime light even if they lack confidence in them as presidential candidates; they have affected the beliefs of society in a big way.
According to Rebecca, the world will only acknowledge success when it is a destination. The perception of Sarah Palin as a looser in the election fails to depict her as the first female governor of Alaska. She was also the youngest at the time in the history of Alaska, all this while being a strong mother of five. She is the first Alaskan and the second woman to run on a major U.S party ticket. The outcome of whether or not she won is not the important issue. The fact that she tried and went as far as she did is proof for major progress as discussed in Rebecca's book.
Hillary Clinton is the 67th United States secretary of state she was the first female chair of the Legal services corporation in 1978. She was a United States senator for New York for nine years, and was the first lady of the 42nd president of the United States Bill Clinton for eight years. She was a leading candidate for the democratic presidential nomination. Despite all her outstanding achievements, her failures were the highlight. Her candidacy, according to Rebecca was exiting to those who wrote about women and power. This arose many questions of sexism, generational difference, abortion, race, choice, class, the place of feminism in a democratic agenda and humor in a feminist agenda. This is more proof that the failures of these women do not mark an end to a feminist activism.
The first lady of the United States of America is currently one of the most eminent female icons in the world. Her help in the campaign for her husband made her a role model for many women in the world. She is the first African American first lady in the history of the United States. She is a notable advocate for poverty awareness, a mother of two and a fashion icon for women. The fact that she is a working mom with a postgraduate degree, following her two predecessors Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton and a genuine care for the people singes her out of the first lady stereotypes.
This is a crucial revolution for women since she has set new standards for the first ladies of the future. Throughout the campaign, the media often labeled Michelle as the angry black woman. She grew softer towards the end by showing empathy towards crowds and attending Ladies' home journal rather than appearing on T.V programs. She has become a part of popular culture as many women see her as a role model. Such is proof that feminists are continuing with their activism since she is in the list of the 25 of the world's most inspiring women.
The effect of Rebecca's argument is to add weight on feminism and its importance in the society today. She has not only concentrated on the treatment of Sarah and Hillary, but she has also included the success of Michelle Obama. She puts the most emphasis on the voters as she connects with the readers by airing her views and experiences as a voter. She puts herself outside all the common beliefs after the election results that race comes before gender in the Cultural Revolution by pointing out that she is in between the second wavers and the younger feminist bloggers.
She alerts the social double standards by discussing the media coverage of Hilary's crying episode and the negative reactions it attracted as most of the female voters did not see it as a problem. Her internal workings of the Republican and Democratic campaigns by looking at how Edwards and Barrack were able to use female bloggers to their advantage will stir a stronger attention to the feminist movement in the future. She has played a vital role in airing the voice of modern-day feminists to prove that they are still active.