Friday, February 08, 2008

Gendered politics in the media

Last month I posted this piece exploring photojournalist representations of Hillary Clinton. Historiann recently commented;

“This is an interesting analysis of the photography of the campaign, and I agree that the photo at the top (Clinton apart from the 3 men) is highly revealing of the dynamics of the race a month ago, before Edwards and Richardson dropped out.”
She continues;
"While it may be true that "The Times, and other msm outlets have been all too willing to portray Hillary as the American Madonna of politics," at least with photography, that's not AT ALL the content of the broadcast media, which is riddled with gendered language and stereotypes that are deployed against Clinton."
This is spot on, and I’m glad she points this out. Furthermore, there are many photographic examples of this as well. My analysis was in fact very specific to that time period, roughly between Iowa and New Hampshire. The narratives are constantly changing both textually and visually. We may even see a return of the Madonna or some other incarnation. I think Historiann’s main point however, is to remind us of an underlying gender bias which continues to be a constant in much of American society, which certainly is reflected through much of the media.

Mette Bertelsen, who recently finished her thesis on gender, politics and Hillary Clinton, will be contributing here in the coming weeks. I can’t tell you if she’ll be specifically looking at media narratives, which is one of my interests. But she will be addressing gender in US politics, so stay tuned for more.

Finally, a small disagreement. Historiann concludes;
“I would say that for her to be running as strong as she is now against Obama is especially remarkable, given the hostility of most broadcast media outlets to treating her with the same consideration as male candidates for the presidency.”

I'm not sure I'd go this far. Should Clinton not win the nomination it won’t be because of media hostility or gender bias. That’s not saying it isn’t or won’t be a factor. Clinton started her campaign as the media and DC establishment’s pre-ordained front runner and nominee, but oh are “they” fickle. No, should Obama win the nomination it will be because his team was ultimately better at realizing the full potential of the internet and the many online grassroots communications tools available today. I think this was supposed to be Hillary’s year and she may still become the nominee and even become the next president. But I don’t think anyone really expected to see online activism and mobilization, which really began with Dean’s 2004 candidacy, explode into the force it’s become.

Ok, that might also be taking it a bit too far.

The main reason for this post when I got up this morning was to introduce two people to the AC, Mette, who will be joining us shortly she assures me, and Historiann, who’s been on our blog role for some months. I was just delighted she stumbled across our little blog and left a comment.
"Historiann is the not very clever pseudonym of Ann M. Little, the author of Abraham in Arms: War and Gender in Colonial New England (2007) and several scholarly articles and book chapters on early American women’s and gender history. She is an Associate Professor in the History Department at Colorado State University."