Monday, February 04, 2008

Femininity Will Win the Election?

There was an interesting but, I think, misguided article yesterday on PopPolitics about campaign theme songs and their greater meaning.

The general thesis of Bernie Heidkamp's article is that presidential hopefuls should take a cue from Clinton and Obama and run on a platform of femininity. (He cites Obama's association with Oprah as an example of his feminine side and Clinton's woman-themed campaign songs as hers.)

Heidkamp notes:

For awhile I felt that Hillary was going to lengths (and the media was complying) not to make gender a part of the campaign. Learning the Pat Schroeder lesson, she rarely showed emotion. Going further back, moreover, she had long been positioning herself in the Senate (until her infamous vote endorsing the Iraq War became unpopular) as a defense hawk. No one was going to accuse her of being "soft."

So for her to make the music of Parton and Gloria Estefan a central part of her campaign rallies -- and to choose a song from Big Head Todd that focuses on how a woman is changing the world -- is an intriguing choice.

Part of it can be explained, though, by her fairly recent realization that her perceived weakness is her greatest strength...

It can also be explained, though, in the realization that Americans -- or at least Democrats -- are sick of the rugged individualist, hyper-masculine narrative that Rove-Bush has sold us the past eight years. Feminine is in.

Don't believe me? Just try to picture Barack hunting for votes in camouflage. His authenticity and sensitivity (or at least his construction of an authentic and sensitive image) wouldn't allow it. He's the Oprah candidate.

He goes on to warn Republicans to get with the feminine program.

Oh, how I wish this was true (aside from that horrible perceived weakness=feminine part). But come on. Is he serious? Sure, lots of people find a feminine side comforting. But when it comes down to the election, people are going to go for the POW over the sentimental man or woman every time. I mean, seriously, how could a woman or a womanish-man protect us from the billions of terrorists out there plotting to kill us? Newsflash: everyone is still afraid. And the majority of Americans do not believe a woman (or anyone resembling a woman) could protect us.

I know. It's sad. But it's true, god dammit.


Bernie said...

Thanks for the link -- and the thoughtful disagreement.

I just wanted to make clear that I wasn't associating women with weakness. I was merely noting that in the construction of gender on the campaign trail, the masculine narrative of infallibility and I-will-protect-you fear-based politics is waning a bit.

And I think that Hillary's emotions and Obama's inspirational speeches (that have reduced many men to tears) are tapping into that void. But, of course, they are just creating a new narrative, re-constructing gender another way.

Whether it carries the day, I'm not sure.

Amanda said...

Thanks for the clarification, Bernie.

It can never be all good, can it? Even if people do like the femininity, it's for false reasons.

We'll just have to wait and find out, I guess. This election is beginning to depress me.