Gender Conflict Framing in Election Coverage
Are media guilty of framing candidates in terms of gender conflict? In this chapter, I argue that gender conflict is a primary way in which political candidates are framed, regardless of their sex. For example, in the article, “Word Pictures Display a Strong Bush, a Weak Kerry,”1 Bush is described as “strong,” “determined,” and as wanting “to grab terrorists by the throat,” while Kerry is described as “sensitive,” “indecisive,” and “a serial flip flopper.” These starkly dissimilar depictions of the candidates presume gender conflict. In chapter 5, I reported that media do invoke the use of gendered descriptions of presidential candidates and that candidates framed more often in as feminine are more likely to lose the election. Yet that analysis, which considers the aggregation of traits used to describe the candidates across the context of the campaign season, shows that in half of the elections the candidates were described as distinctly feminine or masculine enough to warrant statistical significant difference in means. Thus, in half of the elections I analyzed were the candidates framed in distinctly feminine versus distinctly masculine terms. Nevertheless, this does negate the prevalence of gender conflict framing.
KeywordsPresidential Election Presidential Candidate Political Office Feminine Trait Masculine Trait
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- 1.Keen, Judy. “Word Pictures Portray a Strong Bush, a Weak Kerry.” USA Today. September 2, 2004.Google Scholar
- 2.Lawrence, Jill, and Judy Keen. “Election Is Turning into a Duel of the Manly Men.” USA Today. September 22, 2004.Google Scholar
- 3.Rainey, James. “Who’s the Man? They Are,” Los Angeles Times. March 18, 2004.Google Scholar
- 5.Keen, Judy. “Word Pictures Portray a Strong Bush, a Weak Kerry.” USA Today. September 2, 2004.Google Scholar