On Female Presidents, and Presidential Femininity
Ségolene Royal, the Socialist Party’s nominee for president of France, is gathering momentum not by downplaying her feminine side (as Hillary Clinton apparently feels compelled to do) but by emphasizing it, portraying herself “as the mother-protector of the nation.” Here’s how one French union leader assesses Royal: “A woman is more sensitive than a man, much more interested in the personal, the social, the welfare of all. A man is more interested in himself, in the promotion of the individual. For me, [Nicolas] Sarkozy is a little despot. Ségolene has the feminine approach.”
Elaine Sciolino, author of the N.Y. Times article quoted above, notes the unlikeliness of such a sentiment in France: “Ms. Royal’s electoral prospects may appear surprising in a nation that historically has not championed political equality for women. Women voted for the first time only after World War II. The percentage of women in the National Assembly today is only 12.6. Insulting women in politics has long been a blood sport for men.”
I assume that Royal’s campaign is being watched very closely by other female candidates. If she is elected president this spring, will Clinton suddenly jack up the femininity?