Senior Women Web
Image: Women Dancing
Image: Woman with Suitcase
Image: Women with Bicycle
Image: Women Riveters
Image: Women Archers
Image: Woman Standing

Culture & Arts button
Relationships & Going Places button
Home & Shopping button
Money & Computing button
Health, Fitness & Style button
News & Issues button

Help  |  Site Map

Book Review

by Nichola D. Gutgold

Gender and Political Communication in America
Janis L. Edwards, editor
Published by Lexington Books, Lanham, Maryland; ©2009, 311 pp

Well known and regarded for her excellent rhetorical analyses of political cartoons and her book, Political Cartoons in the 1988 Presidential Campaign: Image, Metaphor, and Narrative (Garland Publishing, 1997), University of Alabama communication professor and the editor of this new book, Janis Edwards, draws from a vast array of perspectives to bring together a compelling and thoughtful volume of fourteen essays on gender in political communication.  She writes that she hopes that the essays “provide a glimpse of the rich range of possibilities rhetorical and critical scholars pursue when looking at issue of gender and politics.”  Indeed, the book gives scholars and general readers many ways to consider the intersection of race and politics in America. 

Though all the essays in this collection will offer provocative perspectives, several are notably outstanding on topics of race and gender that have so far received little attention.  Edwards also offers an introduction and epilogue and is author of two of the essays in the collection.

The collection opens with an essay that examines the gender intricacies of the Hillary and Bill Clinton political team.   The authors assert that to correctly read the political contributions of Bill and Hillary Clinton, one must consider both of them as one unit.  Using a feminist theory frame, this essays invites the reader to consider how marital relationships impact presidential politics and in particular the complexities of a former president and first lady who are re-cast as spouse and presidential candidate.

There is a well written and intriguing essay by Kim Reiser that argues that the feminine persona of Elizabeth Dole’s 1999 contradicted with her presidential ambitions.   Reiser takes the reader through the announcement speech of Elizabeth Dole’s presidential bid and notes that her rhetoric embodied the feminine style.  Dole’s presidential race is important because before Hillary Clinton was a front runner candidate, Dole was considered the first serious female presidential candidate and the first woman to attempt to move from the ceremonial first lady role (Dole campaigned vigorously for her husband Bob Dole’s presidential efforts over the years) to a candidate.  Reiser concludes that Dole was unable to overcome the double bind that faces many women in leadership positions.

Conservative political pundit Ann Coulter is the topic of unique and well-written essays that describes her rhetoric as a diatribe.   Her ‘unruly dissident style’ is examined using Coulter’s first five books as primary texts.  In Chapter 5 Heather Aldridge Bart and Heidi Hamilton consider whether the female voices of Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice made a difference in national security discourse.  Ultimately the researchers conclude that “one’s sex does not necessarily equate with gendered styles of discourse." 

Jesse Jackson’s race and masculinity is the subject of a chapter by Paul Achter who notes that both the normative whiteness and the maleness of the United States presidency ultimately disadvantage black candidates.  Wendy Atkins-Sayre explores gender issues surrounding the governorship of Jane Swift who discovered in her case that pregnancy and power were mutually exclusive for women politicians.  Most recently Annise Parker’s election as Houston’s mayor caught national attention because she is lesbian; Christina Standerfer explores the topic in chapter eight. Standerfer considers Kathy Webb’s successful campaign for the Arkansas State Legislature in her essay “Beyond lesbian identity.”

Page Two>>


Follow Us:

SeniorWomenWeb, an Uncommon site for Uncommon Women ™ ( 1999-2022