Two seemingly contradictory recent Gallup Poll findings sum up what it means to be a woman in the United States who dares to go where only men have gone before: Americans love to think of talented, ambitious women who have overcome obstacles — but the reality of a woman assuming a position of power, particularly over men? That’s not welcome.
According to a Gallup finding in early December, Hillary Clinton’s favorability rating has never been lower, having fallen to 36%, more than a year after she lost the presidency to a man who had no discernible skills for the job. But in another Gallup Poll, just a few weeks later, she was named as the woman Americans admire most — for the 16th consecutive time.
In sum, she is subject to a curse that affects too many women in 21st century America: Americans admire but don’t much like her. We frequently and consistently elect and hire men to lead us on the biggest stages even if we don’t like them, even if they are uncouth, even if they are unqualified. But for women seeking the highest office, talent isn’t enough; neither is accomplishment.
And thus far, no one has discovered the precise formula that will make a woman palatable for enough Americans to break the country’s shameful streak of never having chosen a woman as head of state.