Friday, June 08, 2007

What's in a Name?

A Chicago Tribune columnist questions journalists' frequent use of a female candidate's first name, while all her male opponents are referred to by their last names. What do you think?


Blogger Dan said...

I think that if her last name were not the same as another recent president then there would be more use of it.

Also her first name is sufficiently uncommon, especially in presidential campaign circles that it is not confusing. I note that Barack and Rudy's first names are used quite a bit as well, but not John.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Martha said...

Hi, Dan!

Btw, John who? McCain or Edwards? :-)

What about the writer's point, though, that we seemed to be able to find a way to differentiate between George W. and the other recent president with the same last name?

11:50 AM  
Blogger Dan said...


Well that is the point, John who, but you know who Hillary is don't you?

I did not read the article, alas, but I think that if Ms Clinton is elected then she will be referred to as "Clinton" more often. Even so, Mr Bush Jr is often referred to as W, or other, often less flattering, nicknames.

Also, part of the issue is she played a part in her husbands administration and so people remember her being called Hillary from that time too.

But I take the point that women are often, or traditionally anyhow, treated more familiarly then men. I see this kind of petty discrimination fading but not yet gone, don't you?

12:30 PM  
Blogger Martha said...

Dan, I see some of that kind of discrimination fading -- but certainly not enough!

12:55 PM  
Blogger webhill said...

I have several thoughts on this.

First, yes, as part of the overall trend of infantilizing women in the workforce and political arena, it is bothersome that the former First Lady is referred to as "Hillary."

Second, despite point one above, it is true that she has adopted a "given name" campaign, as it were, and she really has no room to complain at this point (not that I'm saying she was doing the complaining here!). In fact, Miss Manners might say that since Ms. Rodham Clinton has so publicly invited us all to use her given name (by way of sending out those "Friend of Hillary" bumper stickers and so on) that to do otherwise would be Quite Rude. Ahem.

And finally, I am sick and tired of everyone and his brother cutting out headlines about Hillary and sending them to me with the expectation that I will be oh-so-amused at "my" being featured in that way. My given name, you see, is also Hillary. Most recently I was given a copy of Mother Jones, with a headline plastered across it which said "Why does everybody love to hate Hillary?" (or something quite close to that). Come on, give it a rest, people!

Ahem. :)

12:00 PM  

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