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Feminist Criticism Case Study

Identification of a Problem

Hillary Clinton: Contradictions of Feminism and the 2008 Presidential Candidacy

The 2008 presidential candidacy primaries heightened the profile of women. The campaigns illuminated aspects of gender and feminism in the American society (McGinley, 2008). Hillary Clinton was contesting for the presidential candidacy.

The trail of the campaign and her past feminism views came to limelight. There were arguments that Hillary contradicted her feminism credo during the 2008 campaigns. The following is a prospectus that will be used for rhetorical feminism criticism in relation to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential candidacy.


Feminism entails the advocacy of freedom, political and economic parity for all people (Dziedzic, 2012). According to Nudd and Whalen (2009), many women agree with ideologies that advocate for the feminist agenda.

Nudd and Whalen (2009) noted that the equality agenda by feminists sought to challenge the patriarchal systems experienced for many years. In the modern society, there are arguments that the modern world is past patriarchal system.

The arguments are augmented by young women and relate to statistics that point to many women in positions that traditionally were male dominated (Lopez, 2009). However, Nudd and Whalen (2009) noted that matters that affect gender identity are complex and fluctuate.

According to Nudd and Whalen (2009), the cultural, political and economic orientation of our society is male centered. The assertion by Nudd and Whalen (2009) imply that many aspects of the society focus on males.

The implied order goes against the arguments forwarded by young women that we are leaving in a post-feminist society.

Despite the progressive feminism movements that advocate for parity in the different aspects of the society, Nudd and Whalen (2009) argue that the feminists are less concerned with achieving the liberation of women. Instead, they strive to satisfy the fantasy of males.

Therefore, the main aim of the project will be to provide adequate knowledge of whether Hillary Clinton’s political success was a feminist victory.

Statement of the Problem

The feminism movements experienced in the late twentieth century endeavored to address the issues of oppression and discrimination (Reynaud, 2004). The ideology of the movements was prompted by the interlocking systems that negated the role of women.

The movements’ arguments were that gender roles were advanced by the culturally constructed ideas about the male and female roles (Kuypers, 2009). Feminists argued that the society was sexist and discriminated women based on the socio-economic circumstances.

Therefore, feminism sought to address the social system and structure issues that glorified the patriarchy. Then, the ideology advanced by the feminists was that women were supposed to arise and occupy positions that were male dominated (Nudd & Whalen, 2009).

In the contemporary society, there are arguments that feminist are not concerned with achieving the equality; instead, they strive to glorify the fantasy of males (Nudd & Whalen, 2009).

In the context of the social and political gains, it thus becomes important to review whether the social and political ascension of Hillary Clinton was a victory for feminists. In order to explore the feminism rhetoric, the project will be guided by the following research questions.

  1. Was Hillary Clinton’s political success a victory for feminists?
  2. Did Hillary Clinton use contradicting feminism to further her political agenda?


Research Design

In order to answer the questions and establish whether the political success and aspirations of Hillary Clinton pointed to feminism victory, the research design that will be employed will be Feminist Criticism Method.

Feminist Criticism Method is a method of investigation that collects specific information that relate to a given feminist (Ramazanoglu & Holland, 2009).

According to Nudd and Whalen (2009), the Feminist Criticism Method collects data by application of the ideological or political method. In order to understand Hillary’s feminism agenda, the critical concepts of the method that will be used include redefining, recovering, recording and visioning.

Recovering technique investigates feminist’s modification of speech or communication that is aimed at aligning to the changing roles (Nudd &Whalen, 2009). The technique entails the acknowledgment of the rhetoric that has been erased by the male-dominated society.

The rhetorical tradition ideologically excluded women from the various dimensions of public participation. However, Nudd and Whalen (2009) argued that a complete exclusion of women was not complete; the women were left at the peripheral in the significance discourse.

The patriarchal system pushed women to the margins. Therefore, the recovering technique entails the mechanism applied by feminists to reintegrate the gender balance in the male dominated society. The feminist are thus concerned with recovering of female rhetoric.

On the other hand, recording technique involves the analysis of the cultural production to determine the persons behind artifacts and the processes applied to put together the artifacts (Nudd & Whalen, 2009).

The processes and systems of production of artifacts predict the construction of gender messages and foster the understanding why particular messages are packed in a given way.

Redefining concept entails the analysis of language usage to depict gendered ideals that are deemed stereotypical (Nudd & Whalen, 2009). In order to advance the agenda of gender parity, feminists create a language that is not aligned with patriarchal dimensions (Lots, 2003).

The feminists reclaim words to demystify patriarchy. Therefore, redefining is a technique that is used to examine the use of words to depict a picture that is gender biased. The redefining technique is based on the reinvention of language that upholds gender possibilities.

Revisioning, on the other hand, entails the creation of theories that relate to rhetoric. The revisioning technique identifies and analyzes artifacts (Nudd & Whalen, 2009). The revisioning of rhetoric emanates from ordinary people and does not relate to the historical accomplishments.

The revisioning includes the use of progressive rhetorical dialogs. The technique transcends the ritualistic work carried by women due to the impermanent nature (Nudd & Whalen, 2009). Thus, revisioning entails the symbolic activities that are undertaken by women, and that are less concrete and finished.

The revisioning of ideas helps in identification of significant rhetoric undertaken by specified women. For instance, the traditional role of women at the family levels such as baking and writing letters signify meaning.

However, in the patriarchal world, women are pushed to the periphery; hence, the significance of their activities are diminished. Revisioning is based on questioning what underlies a desirable rhetoric. It further provides the frameworks that can be applied to establish meaning for feminist ideology.

The project will apply the redefining and the revisioning techniques as the basis for investigating Hillary Clintons’ 2008 presidential candidacy. The techniques will help to ascertain whether the success of Hillary in politics was a feminist victory.


Rhetorical feminism research is normally concerned with investigating broader perspectives that are aimed at changing the conditions of women (Ramazanoglu & Holland, 2002). Therefore, in the rhetoric criticism, different materials will be used to collect data.

The materials will include published books and artifacts about Hillary Clinton. The published materials will provide in-depth data that relate to Hilary and her feminist principles. In addition, the materials by different authors will assist to explore different perspectives of Hillary Clinton.

The published materials will be advantageous because they will provide information over different periods; hence, rich background information on the subject that will be investigated (Letherby, 2003).

The exploration of the issue by use of various published books and artifacts will bring to light the issues that may not be obtained through interviews or other data collection methods.

In addition, the use of the published materials and artifacts will be inexpensive process and will explore information in different contexts; hence, providing a holistic analysis.

Procedures for Gathering Materials

The evaluation of the quality of the materials to be used in a project depends on the methods applied to collect the information (Ramazanoglu & Holland, 2002). The process of selecting the different artifacts and publications for a study denotes the quality of information obtained and the applicability of the generalization of findings.

Therefore, the gathering of the published materials that will be used for the project will be based on the capacity of the artifact or the material to provide reliable information that relate to Hillary Clinton. The materials will be collected from credible sources.

Before the inclusion, the materials will be reviewed using a rubric to grade whether they qualify for the study. Only the materials with exemplary score will be used. The grading will help to eliminate materials that provide biased information.

Discussion and Conclusion

Published books and artifacts are very useful for rhetorical scholars. They provide in-depth information that relate to different scenes. The published materials require critical reading in order to identify the different perspectives presented.

The aim of the project will be to gain in-depth information that relate to Hillary Clinton activities and communications that relate to feminism. The project will mainly focus on the presidential candidacy of 2008.

However, sources that relate to the political ascension will be used for the project. The primary focus will be on the campaigns for Bill Clinton and her various perspectives on women during her tenure as a senator.

Anticipated Findings

Wearing (2007) stated that the majority of women do not identify as feminists; however, they concur with the feminist agenda. The assertion relates to the treatment of women as equal partners in different aspects that both the women and men are involved.

The common perspective by women about equality and the endeavor to redefine stereotyped perspectives of women indicates a general focus of feminism (Stockill, 2006). However, feminism has different perspectives that make it difficult to determine the thoughts of an individual in relation to feminism.

The study will explore whether Bill Clinton acted as a springboard for the political success of Hillary Clinton. For example, during the tenure as first lady, Hillary Clinton insisted that she was an equal partner with Bill in the White House.

The equality notion by Hillary will be explored to determine whether it pointed to progression as a feminist and its implications in relation to other feminist movements.

Nudd and Whalen (2009) stated that a complete feminism is not based on noting the male domination but on a complete revolution that aims at striking the balance in the society.

In the review to determine whether Hillary Clinton used contradicting feminism to further her political agenda, various materials will be analyzed to determine her political standings.

According to Lots (2003), feminism is about altering the social landscape so that all people experience freedom and ensure that the society is not aligned with patriarchy system but a balanced platform for both men and women.

In the modern society, competition is a value that is embraced. Despite the embrace of the value of competition, there are societal expectations placed on women. For example, there is a societal requirement that women should act in a feminine manner.

For the females, being aggressive and competitive is often construed as a lack of feminine qualities. The societal expectations are based on the male domination notion that designed the gender roles (Nudd & Whalen, 2009).

The feminist role is based on redefining and revisioning the concept to create a platform that dispels the women stereotyping and the male identification.

Men have dominated the political landscape in America for many years. In addition, political landscape is very competitive. The political success depends on striking a balance that attracts voters from both the men and women.

For women to gain the competitive edge, the role of patriarchy-oriented society cannot be undermined (Heath, Toth & Waymer, 2009). The women have to get approval from male voters. Furthermore, they have to impress the fellow women by pushing for parity in the male-dominated political scene.

Therefore, for a feminist, it becomes a difficult landscape to navigate. Therefore, the study will investigate the different perspectives employed by Hillary Clinton to gain the political success.

For example, in the campaign for Bill Clinton, Hillary emphasized that she was not the type of a woman to stay at home to bake for the family (McGinley, 2009). The notion alluded to her equal role in the White House. However, the sentiments were interpreted as demeaning the stay home women.

In the 2008 primaries, she played an assertive role that was aimed at upholding the male roles in society and at the same time ensuring women equality.


The analysis of Hillary Clinton feminism in the political ascension will require the application of equal part solution and equal part critique. There will be a potential bias that relate to failure to consider the role of patriarchal order in the Hillary’s rise to political success.

For example, Hilary Clinton could have changed views that related to feminism in order to gain politically from men and women. As such, there is the possible failure to failure to consider the implication of the alternative change of views amidst the competitive political landscape.

Furthermore, there will be a probability of personal bias that may arise by concentrating on the aspects that elucidate domination factors and the rigidity of language use. Amidst the complex political landscape, there is the possibility of failure to objectively establishing establish Hillary’s feminism ideology.

Despite the limitations, the anticipated conclusions will not be lacking. The project will apply the various techniques for feminism criticism research. The materials that will be used and the procedure for inclusion will ensure that credible information is acquired for the study. Therefore, the issues that relate to the limitations will be addressed and the potential bias reduced.


Dziedzic, N. (2012). Feminism. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.

Heath, R., Toth, E., & Waymer, D. (2009). Rhetorical and critical approaches to public relations. New York, NY: Routledge.

Kuypers, J. (2009). Feminism rhetorical criticism. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Letherby, G. (2003). Feminist research in theory and practice. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Lopez, D. (2009). Hierarchy, unity, and imitation: a feminist rhetorical analysis of power dynamics. Women’s Studies International Forum, 17 (3), 369-371.

Lots, A. (2003). Communicating third wave feminism and new social movements: challenges for the next century of feminist endeavor. Women and Languages, 15 (1), 1-9.

McGinley, C. (2009). Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Michelle Obama: performing gender, race, and class on the campaign trail. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 23 (1), 810-823.

Nudd, D., & Whalen, K. (2009). Feminist analysis: rhetorical criticism. Perspectives in Action, 1 (1), 257-284

Ramazanoglu, C., & Holland, J. (2002). Feminist methodology: challenges and choices. London: Sage.

Reynaud, E. (2004). Holy virility: the social construction of masculinity. Feminism & Masculinities, 136 (1), 142-44.

Stockill, C. (2006). Gender Talk: feminism, discourse and conversation analysis. Feminism & Psychology, 16 (4), 501-504.

Wearing, S. (2007). The rhetoric of feminism: readings in contemporary cultural theory and the popular press. Feminist Review, 86 (1), 195-196.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Feminist Criticism '. 6 August.

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