She couldn’t satisfy her husband

Date: January 1, 1970
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This image shows a man holding a placard that reads, ‘she couldn’t satisfy her husband, she won’t satisfy America.’ This is in reference to Hilary Clinton’s run for US presidency.

This photo  may be used to:
  • show how media and individuals judge women’s abilities by their perceived shortcomings in the home (or bedroom);
  •  talk about double standards that working women/ women leaders face;
  • raise awareness of challenges women face in leadership; and
  • engage in debate around men and women in leadership, and why women are not seen as leaders.

Trainer’s notes
This image shows a blatant stereotype against women. Looking at the image, a man is pictured with a board that says negative things about a woman, Hilary Clinton, who was a serious contender for the US presidency. The image uses Bill Clinton’s well-publicised affair to belittle her abilities as a future president. It implies that 1) the affair was her fault because she couldn’t ‘satisfy’ her husband, and 2) that her sex life is indicative of her capabilities as a leader.

Women are often referenced by their sex appeal and perceived sexual prowess, or the lack thereof. While men are generally ranked by their abilities, strengths and achievements, women are often ranked by their looks and age, caregiving roles, and sexiness. In addition, women in political and other leadership positions often find their home or personal lives (either in relation to caregiving or sex) over-emphasised or used as a tool against them (see Lipstick Pitbull for further examples of this). The image implies that if a woman is somehow lacking in the household (or bedroom), she cannot make a good leader. However, her husband, Bill Clinton, is still considered a good leader, and is still respected for the non-political work he is involved in post-presidency, despite having engaged in a highly publicized, highly controversial affair during his term in office.
These kinds of implications are part of a very problematic double standard, where women, because of their ‘traditional’ roles in the home, are often judged based on their home life, whereas men, whose ‘traditional’ role has been outside the home, are not.
Discussion questions
  • Do women make good leaders? Why or why not.
  •  What impact does this kind of sentiment have on the rights of women?
  •  Do the media have a responsibility to show balanced images of men and women?
  •  What language if often used to talk about women in leadership? What kind of language should be used?
  •  What other double standards do women grow up with? (examples: virgin/ whore, a working woman’s ‘double day’)
Training exercise
  • Conduct a poll to see whether people feel a person’s home life indicates what leadership capabilities they have. Ask some if they would trust a male politician (name one) to continue in his leadership role after a sexual scandal. Ask others if they would trust a female politician (name one) after the same thing. Compare your answers.
  • Interview women leaders and find out if they are treated the same as male leaders. It can be at workplaces or anywhere.
  • Hold a debate around media responsibilities. Find out if the media is doing enough to encourage women leadership.
Links to other training resources

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