First Lady Influence On Women

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Although the role of First Lady has never been clearly defined, she has become a prominent figure in the political and social life of the nation. The prominence of the position provides a platform of influence on popular behavior and opinion; providing a model for how women should act, speak, and dress. The influence of first ladies has changed and evolved over time, becoming increasingly more instrumental and significant in the last century. As the first president’s wife to name her own press secretary, Jacqueline Kennedy worked hard to build and protect her family’s image in the media. This focus on media can be examined through the CBS coverage of her White House tour, which further emulated her front stage behavior, to the
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The conferences aimed to “reflected news deemed suitable for women's and society pages" (Beasley 11). This began the changing of the traditional role of First Lady and women in media as a whole. Women were able to have opinions on important issues and a voice in society. This greatly impacted women who would later follow her shoes, such as Julia Tyler, Florence Harding, and Grace Coolidge. These three female leaders were known for their positive acceptance in the press. This differed from those who did not successfully fill the role of caring wife, and therefore were criticized greatly by the press. This makes it clear that the First Lady needs to find a balance of having an influence without making it clear to the public that she has true control over the political power of their husbands. This can all tie into the role of Jacqueline Kennedy through her publicly expressed view of power in her position. She states, “There are two kinds of power. Power of the world and power of the bed. I want power of the bed” (Goldstone 10). This shows that Kennedy is more interested in privilege to command and be obeyed within her home, than she is in influencing affairs of the state. This look into First Ladies in the media can also be seen through those who chose not to challenge media relations and gender stereotypes. Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower are representations of those who assumed the role of traditional wives and mothers, putting them perfectly inline with the suburban housewife stereotype (Beasley 61). These two women also represented the common Middle American focus of seeking a glorified family life. This housewife mystique can be observed through the description of Eisenhower as “extremely feminine, in a rather sweet, clinging-vine way (Beasley 67). The fulfillment of this stereotypical role by both predecessors
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