Gendered Character in Presidential Elections: A Descriptive Analysis

  • Meredith Conroy
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)


How often do news media describe presidential candidates in gendered terms? Are articles like The New York Times’ “How Kerry Became a Girlie-Man1” the exception? Or do media commonly and consistently invoke gendered language in their coverage of presidential candidates? I argue that media commonly use gendered language to describe presidential candidates irrespective of candidate sex and that the use of gendered language by media is done in a manner that advance masculinity as the norm. Furthermore, I suggest that this advancement of masculinity is achieved through the construction of a gender dichotomy, where media describe a masculine character and a feminine character as being in conflict with one another, where masculinity is the protagonist and femininity is the foe. In this chapter, I take up the question of whether media use gendered language to describe the presidential candidates and the degree to which this use of gendered language advances masculinity as the norm and femininity as abnormal. In chapter 6, I take up the question of gender conflict framing to assess the degree to which media frame the genders as in conflict with each other in the context of individual articles where presidential character is the focus and evaluate its prevalence and discuss its consequences.


Presidential Election Character Coverage Presidential Candidate Feminine Trait Masculine Trait 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Meredith Conroy 2015

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  • Meredith Conroy

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