Motherhood, Faith, Feminism and the Legacy of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election

Ann W. Duncan


The unprecedented participation of female candidates in the 2008 presidential election received considerable media attention and occasioned often virulent public debate about the current status of women in American politics and the state of feminismin the country as a whole. Underlying this debate were evolving paradigms of motherhood, faith and feminism. Exploring the media’s portrayal of Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama, this article examines the role of this election in eliciting debates about motherhood, the role of women in the political realm, the definition of feminism and the role of religion in political discourse. Such an exploration reveals failures of modern articulations of feminism to appeal broadly to the electorate generally and American women in particular and partially explains the failure of both parties to advance a successful female candidate. These failures suggest that as women increasingly desire and expect to see themselves reflected in the political landscape, paradigms of feminism must expand to include traditional family constructs, conservatism, faith and the complexity of life today.

Full Text:

 Subscribers Only

We are grateful to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for its ongoing support of the Journal of the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement.