Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Journalist discusses book and impact of women in election

Derek Anderson
Journal Staff

The 2008 presidential election was a groundbreaking, historical, and undeniably massive awakening to America. Rebecca Traister, a journalist for, shines even more light on the giant changes the election made, not just for America, but more specifically, women of the country. Traister discussed her new book, Big Girls Don’t Cry, at Suffolk last Wednesday, explaining the impact of women in the 2008 election.

Focusing on the women of the 2008 election, Traister explained her book and how she came up with the idea of diving deeper into the subject.  She argued with these radical changes in the olden, unspoken rules of America, we are seeing shifts in gender and race that no one could have predicted seeing even 20 years ago.

Traister spoke first about her personal politics and how they lead to the idea of the book. She did not originally support Hilary Clinton as the first woman with a chance at presidency.

“Hillary Clinton had existed in my consciousness as a figure,” said Traister. “I knew she had been a big deal in ‘92, because she was the first candidate for First Lady who had really had a post-graduate degree, maintained a political career outside her husbands, and that was explosively new for the country in ‘91 and ‘92. She became a lightning rod and labeled a ‘radical left-wing feminist’. Hillary Clinton’s life, which consisted of work and family, was still pretty radical in the 90s.”

It was not until Clinton dropped from the running that Traister realized there was a story to tell in the political happenings of 2008.

“It was then I realized that this was an epic story. Not just about Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin and Barrack Obama and what was going on in 2008; this is a huge story about women in politics in America,” said Traister. “Sarah Palin, individually, but more broadly the events of 2008, and the story of women in 2008, would cast long shadows into the future. They would have an impact on what we talked about say three years later, like right now.”

Covering all the women involved, Traister brought Clinton, Palin, Michelle Obama and even women in the media, like Tina Fey and Katie Couric, into play to explain a deeper view of the country’s change during and after the election.

“In power, it’s always been in the hands of white men. The media has also been traditionally in the hands of white men,” said Traister. “What we saw in 2008 were different candidates, which meant we needed to have different kinds of people who could translate them for us. So we saw the rise of Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. We saw the most crucial interview with Sarah Palin done by Katie Couric. You also got the material that Tina Fey then turned into political commentary. In 2008, the funniest comedy coming out of SNL was coming from its women cast members.”

With this transformation of roles in America, Traister argued it to be the unveiling of historic issues swept under the rug of America. Events from the 2008 election lead to the confrontation of issues the country has neglected to address for so long.

“In my book, that’s called Big Girls Don’t Cry, practically everyone I speak to about memories of the election cries, or remembers crying, because it was painful to deal with what still exists in America. The kinds of old resentments, hatreds and prejudices we still harbor. But to my mind, what happened in that election is we exposed them, we lifted a curtain on it. It’s not that it was gone and we brought them back. We’ve been telling ourselves for far too long that they were gone, and what we did was raise a curtain on them and that’s precisely what needs to happen if we ever do hope to work through them,” said Traister.

“We need to expose them, we need to talk about them, we need to have difficult exchanges about them. It doesn’t make us feel ‘yippee-skippy we love America, we’ve solved everything here.’ But obviously, we haven’t. In the project of moving forward, we have to wade through this horrible stuff and that’s what I feel happened in 2008.”

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Journalist discusses book and impact of women in election