Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's congressional testimony
Brockmann, Breena Johanna
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This thesis examines three different hearings in which the United States’ third female secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, testified before Congress: her confirmation hearing, an annual budget approval hearing, and the hearings investigating the attack in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton’s position as a uniquely gendered political figure demanded she respond as both secretary of state and gendered subject. Throughout these hearings, Clinton negotiated the gendered constraints of the femininity/competency and aging/visibility double binds, the "exceptional woman" frame, and her first lady ethos as a power-hungry "bitch" or feminist icon. This thesis finds that Clinton prioritized diplomacy over defense and development, adopted a military ethos, and shifted generic expectations. These strategies allowed Clinton to assert superior competency as a secretary of state, in ways that both highlighted and resisted her gendered identity. Broadly speaking, this thesis contributes to the ongoing task of understanding the tensions created when gender, politics, and public discourse intersect.