Thursday, December 13, 2007

Curiously

Do you suppose people refer to "Hillary" while in the same breath referring to "Obama," "Giuliani," and "Romney" because she's a woman or simply to distinguish her from another well-known "Clinton"? Granted, I've seen a lot of references to "Mitt," but usually in a derogative sense, and I've seen very few references to "Barack" or "Rudy." What do you think?

12 comments:

Becca said...

I thought it was because that's how she's campaigning. Self-selected distinguishing? I never thought about the possibility of it being derogatory.

Mr. Fob said...

Ah. Good point. I suppose her campaign people decided her first name was more distinctive. Still, I think it's interesting.

J G-W said...

Ya, I've seen lots of "Hillary" posters on people's lawns here in south Minneapolis. I assume they got them from her campaign.

Plus, I've heard people say "Mitt" without intending it derogatorily in any way.

I mean, the Bush campaign was going around talking about "W" (pronounced "dubya"). Weird.

And Karl Rove accepted "Turd Blossom" as a term of affection.

Politicians are just insane, basically.

Th. said...

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Rudy is pretty common too. And she needs to seem friendly and a first name helps with that. But mostly I think it's because Bill came first.

(note: "Bill" very common)

Mr. Fob said...

I bet if you did a study of how often the first names appear in public discourse in proportion to how much each individual has been referred to, you'd find "Hillary" used much more frequently than "Bill" or "Rudy." But that's not an argument I'm willing to back up with any kind of actual facts, because I doubt the research has been done and I'm sure not going to do it. And it's sort of a moot point if she's the one promoting it.

Th. said...

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I once made a similar comment about A female writer in a Brit Lit class once and got castigated. I was totally right though. Your female writers are less likely to be refered to as last-name only.

[əɪ̯ wʌndɹ̟] said...

Whereas it is true that women are less often referred to as last name only (that is seen as something belonging more to the man in our culture - especially for married women), but in this instance I don' think this is a case of gender discrimination. In fact, I have heard many people refer to Barack Obama simply as Barack (I among them) and Rudi Giulliani as Rudi. The other candidates are much less likely to have that happen though in my opinion.

Nicole said...

I'm so glad to see someone else bitching about this, no joke. I think it is completely sexist and extremely offensive. Calling a professional woman by her first name, esp in a political context is diminuative.

She is a senator, and we would never just call Senator Hatch "Orrin" if he was campaigning for pres.

She may use it on her signs, but it's disconcerting to see the news media doing it over and over.

Becca said...

I've been thinking about this more, and I've decided they're using her first name as a calculated campaigning tactic to make her seem more familiar. When you use last names it puts someone at arms length, but first name basis is something you have with a friend. Most media are probably using her first name since she wants to be campaigned that way although I admit I still hear a lot of "Senator Clintons". I didn't before she started campaigning though. Did anyone else notice that?

Nicole said...

Well, before she started campaigning it was Senator Rodham Clinton, so it's kind of confusing anyways. She'd rather be President than a Rodham.

Rebecca said...

It's sexist. I don't even care if they ARE calling a lot of the male politicians by their first names, or if the Clinton machine is doing it on purpose - it's still sexist just because that's how it ALWAYS happens. Women get called by their familiar first names, and men by their last names - a gesture of respect. It's gross. And yet if anyone referred to me as Ms. (my last name) I'd probably freak and be all, "CALL ME REBECCA, YOU CRAZY WANKER!" So who knows.

Also, for what it's worth (nothing), I think it's a BAD idea to make Hillary Clinton seem friendlier and more familiar. People want a President who will LEAD, not one who will play hopscotch with them. Probably.

Becca said...

I really thought it was the exception calling female politicians by their first name, but maybe I'm not paying much attention. I thought I've just always seen news headlines using the title and last name for either sex. Of course there are a few uses of first names, but for as often as I read the news, I can only think of a couple of times that has happened. But that was before Hillary Clinton started touting herself as "Hillary" in her campaign. Maybe you should write a letter to her campaign stating your dissatisfaction. They might understand, but it's probably a little late to change all the posters.