Kamala Harris faces sexism and racism as online commenters label her ‘Black Hillary’
Despite all of the anger on social media over the fly on Mike Pence's head and Kamala Harris' behavior, analysts say the vice presidential debate is unlikely to change the state of the presidential race.
However, the attacks on Harris afterwards were particularly severe.
Comments during and after Wednesday's debate were full of complaints that the Democratic vice-presidential candidate was too snappy, bold and annoying. Many had problems with their facial expressions.
“Take it like a woman. Don't make faces, ”tweeted former Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
“Mike Pence was a gentleman, open and focused. He did an excellent job of implementing his plan for America, ”said actor James Woods on Twitter. "Kamala Harris acted like a 'Valley Girl', grinning and rolling her eyes like an irritated brat, avoiding every question she was asked."
Ohio Pastor Darrell C. Scott spoke to Fox's new host Laura Ingraham after the debate and said Harris was "Black-faced Hillary Clinton." #BlackHillary started developing on Twitter.
Harlan Z. Hill, a Republican adviser and Trump campaign advisor, tweeted, "Kamala Harris comes out as an unbearable, lying b ----" The Post received more than 8,000 retweets. The next day, Fox told News Media it would no longer book Hill, who is a frequent guest on the network, because of the vulgar remark.
History shows that voters vote for presidential candidates, not partners. But there is another type of story that emerged in this debate - a woman, especially one of color, faces a tougher time when running for office.
"She's been living what Hillary Clinton went through just with steroids," said Antjuan Seawright, a South Carolina-based Democratic adviser.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Beyond the Double Bind: Women and Leadership, said women like Harris need to do two things: act within the stereotypes about them and overcome them.
She said pence doesn't have the same negative assumptions to overcome.
"She has to be very careful not to play stereotypes that suggest she's being rude ... and she can't be perceived as being unreasonably aggressive," said Jamieson. “And the problem is, what is rude and aggressive is different for men and women. He has more leeway than she does. "
"The word I heard over and over again was 'snarky,'" said Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. Steele, the only African American to ever run the GOP, is supporting the Democracy Ticket this year.
"I've heard it from Democrats and Republicans," he said.
Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin
In the presidential election, four women were on the big party tickets: Vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, a Democrat, 1984; Sarah Palin Republican of Alaska in 2008 and Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.
Clinton was largely unpopular. Network exit polls showed that 55% of voters had an adverse opinion of her.
Harris faces similar challenges, said Kimberly Peeler-Allen, who visited practitioners at the non-partisan Center for American Women and Politics in New Jersey. She cited similarities - both are seasoned lawyers, have been US senators, and are known to be convincing speakers.
"They are women who don't stay in place," she said.
Palin was also treated unfairly, Jamieson said. While she had originally been put on the Republican ticket as an energy expert, the governor of Alaska had been painted as a fugitive wife and poor mother by the end of the campaign. She said Palin was the subject of "vulgar, pornographic" internet posts.
Women need to look smart and tough, but not threatening, and that can be difficult, said Peeler-Allen, who noted that part of the problem is that a strong woman is seen as a threat by those used to power .
Designating Harris as "Black Hillary" is a way to apply decades of negative stereotypes about one of the most famous women in American politics to a relatively unknown candidate, Jamieson said.
"Many people cannot get rid of the idea that white men have a monopoly on talent and leadership, and many others are downright fearful and hostile to executives from other walks of life," said Steve Phillips, founder of Democracy in Color and moderator of the podcast “Democracy in Color with Steve Phillips”.
The result is that women of color like Harris have to work harder to prove themselves than white men like Pence, Jamieson said.
"The man's competence is presumed but the woman's competence is not," she said. "She has to show a higher amount of it so people can see that she has the same amount."
Women as leaders
The challenge for Harris is that "it is the opposite of what people in history have seen of national leaders," Peeler-Allen said.
Add to this the ubiquity of social media and the persistent aversion to people of color who were once considered an exclusive right for whites.
“Social media provides a safe place for people to say things. Fifteen years ago, these things were said at barbecues in the garden, with people at home, or perhaps in exclusive clubs, ”said Peeler-Allen. "It's outside now."
There's no question that non-whites and non-men have a tougher path, said Marlo Diaz Tucker, state director of Concerned Women for America in California, a group that promotes traditional values.
But that means, "You just have to work harder to show people that you are there to help and you have the skills." And she said, "You have to do it with a little poise and grace."
Trump calls Harris a "monster"
Kathleen Sullivan, a veteran Democratic activist from New Hampshire, believed the anger was a symbol of the troubles the Trump campaign was facing. She noted Trump called Harris a "monster" on Thursday.
"This is a term that children normally use to refer to something that scares them. I think that means Trump is afraid of a strong but joyful, confident black woman," she said.
After speaking to 15 undecided voters from eight swing states on the night of debate, political advisor and pollster Frank Luntz told Fox News: "This was Mike Pence's night."
Often style and substance are important to undecided voters, he said, and "the complaint about Kamala Harris was that she was aggressive and condescending."
Luntz noted that "Harris' reactions to Pence - the smile, the grin, the scowl" made her far "angry" with her performance. "
But two polls after the debate gave Harris an advantage. A poll by POLITICO / Morning Consult following the debate found that viewers rated Harris as the best performance, while 40% named pence. Women were even more likely to agree with their performance, while men were evenly divided between the two.
As voters see more women in positions of power, Jamieson said they are becoming the rule, not the exception.
"We have now reached a point where there are so many competent women in so many places in the culture that the likelihood of having a president has increased dramatically," she said. "Because that kind of female leadership experience is starting to undermine your stereotype."
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