Women, Language, and Politics
Experts and nonexperts alike tend to see anything women do as evidence of powerlessness. The language of the media is replete with examples of how difficult it is for women to be regarded as beings with authority and power. The attitude follows women in power everywhere, but... nowhere is the conflict between femininity and authority more crucial than with women in politics.
The characteristics of a good man and a good candidate are the same, but a woman has to choose between coming across as a strong leader or a good woman. If a man appears forceful, logical, direct, masterful, or powerful, he enhances his value as a man. If a woman appears forceful, logical, direct, masterful, or powerful she risks undercutting her value as a woman.
As Robin Lakoff shows in Language and Woman's Place, language comes at a woman from two angles: The words they speak, and the words spoken about them. If I wrote: "After delivering the acceptance speech, the candidate fainted, "you would know I was talking about a woman. Men do not faint; they pass out. And these terms have vastly different connotations that both reflect and affect our image of men and women. Fainting conjures up a frail figure crumpling into a man's rescuing arms, maybe just for dramatic effect. Passing out suggests a straightforward fall to the floor.
An article in Newsweek during the 1984 vice presidential campaign quoted a Reagan aide who called Ferraro...