Hidden meanings in Hillary

Hidden meanings in “Hillary” What’s in a Candidate’s Name? By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour As the primaries unfold, legions of supporters will fill convention halls waving signs supporting their candidate of choice. While many of these signs will identify the presidential hopeful by first and last name, it is usually the last name that stands out […]

Hidden meanings in “Hillary”

What’s in a Candidate’s Name?

By: Kelly Keenan Trumpbour

As the primaries unfold, legions of supporters will fill convention halls waving signs supporting their candidate of choice. While many of these signs will identify the presidential hopeful by first and last name, it is usually the last name that stands out in some combination of red, white and blue. Everyone knows who you are talking about when you mention McCain or Obama, Edwards or Giuliani. And while Clinton has been used, it is far more likely that the only female candidate in the race will be referred to simply as “Hillary.”

Hidden meanings... I have talked to many women about this topic, and I have received two very different responses. One group of women finds the use of “Hillary” as belittling. Invoking some of the most respected principals of feminism, these women find it insulting that male candidates are instantly associated with a last name, but a woman who holds a place in the U.S. Senate is referred to by reporters, colleagues, and voters by her first name. They argue that this is the hallmark of a society that has not embraced the equality of women but instead references her in the same way schoolchildren are addressed.

Other women have a completely different take. Given the fact that Hillary Rodham Clinton is married to a former president who campaigned under “Clinton” it seems only natural that she would distinguish herself. They like that she uses her first name and find it completely modern. It is still common practice for a woman to be born with her father’s last name and to choose whether to add her husband’s surname. Some women would argue that the only name that is ever uniquely a woman’s is her first name. These women also argue that there is something more personal in addressing another woman by her first name. In a way that just doesn’t work for men, women often bestow honor and greatness to each other by using first names. Think Oprah, Diana, Cleopatra.

Whatever the case, Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton has embraced both perspectives. You may note that the vast majority of her campaign signs have “Hillary” as the prominent text, and directly below it, you guessed it… Hillary Clinton.

Tell us: If you ran for president, how would you like to be addressed? Do you think using a first name to identify a female candidate is belittling or no big deal?


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