Man enough? Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and the politics of presidential masculinity
By Jackson Kantz
Why has the U.S. never had a woman president? With Hillary Clinton engaged in a historic campaign that could see her becoming the first woman elected president of the United States, the national conversation about gender and the presidency is gaining critical momentum.
Commentators have fixated on the special challenges women candidates for the presidency face: endless media scrutiny as gender has always been a crucial factor in presidential politics.
In Man Enough? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity, Jackson Katz puts forth the original and highly provocative thesis that in recent decades presidential campaigns have become the center stage of an ongoing national debate about manhood, a kind of quadrennial referendum on what type of man or one day, woman embodies not only our ideological beliefs, but our very identity as a nation. Whether he is examining right-wing talk radios relentless attacks on the masculinity of Democratic candidates, how fears of appearing weak and vulnerable end up shaping candidates actual policy positions, how the ISIS attacks on Paris and elsewhere have pushed candidates to assume an increasingly hypermasculine posture, or the groundbreaking quality of Hillary Clintons runs for the presidency in 2008 and 2016, Katz offers a new way to understand the role of identity politics in presidential campaigns.
In the end, Man Enough? offers nothing less than a paradigm-shifting way to understand the very nature of the American presidency.
Man enough? Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, and the politics of presidential masculinity – Jackson Kantz
As a sociology and politics graduate this book was exactly the sort of thing that interests me and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I have watched looked on with alternate horror and disbelief at the popularity of Donald Trump and have wondered, like many others around the world, what potential voters see in him.
This book provides a possible answer to that question and has provided me with a different way of examining American politics.
Kantz states, “Many political pundits describe Trump as a reality TV show personality whose popularity had its roots in a blend of populist disgust with the establishment and the toxic white racism that still animates a significant portion of the Republican base. But make no mistake. What drew people to Trump was his over-the-top performance of a kind of can-do white masculinity that has been in decline in recent decades.”
He also makes the point that, “what largely goes unmentioned is that the political mainstream has always featured its own version of identity politics, the politics of white manhood.”
Kantz also puts forward that the terminology of American political debates has always leaned towards terms that insult opposing candidate’s masculinity.
I found this an interesting read and would certainly recommend it to others.
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