Masculinity and Politics

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The political structure of the United States has been tainted by exclusion of women because of their lack of masculine qualities that voters lust for in a leader. From the beginning of American culture, like in most cultures, men played the dominant role and were accepted as the governing gender. Until women’s suffrage in the United States in the early twentieth century, they were perceived as being inferior in the testosterone driven society. With the rise in women rights as well as gay rights after the defeat in Vietnam, the definition of masculinity was rattled and became revolutionized in a “remasculinization” phase in the 70s and 80s (Messner 461). It was an era when American society revamped what a real man should be. With this drastic transformation, a new “hegemonic masculinity” or alpha persona that all men supposedly strive to become was created (Messner 461). The new image that evolved was magnified in by the entertainment business, especially in Hollywood. With the ex-action movie star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his current elected position, the effectiveness of masculine traits has been solidified as successful strategic campaigning. The effectiveness of using certain masculine traits in campaign could be increasing or decreasing with the current issues that face America especially since the country is involved in two wars. By using these gender selective attributes, it could give male candidates another tool to use against their female or, in some cases, other male opponents in various political campaigns in the United States. The result of this inequality is clear the discrimination seen in the ratio of men to women on the national level. Male candidate’s success at using masculinity in their campaign has affected the outcome of elections; and therefore influenced American history as well as the present and future. Masculinity has had a huge role on the political structure in the United States, even though its definition has changed with the shift in ideology in American society. When America won its independence, women were left out of the structuring and positions of the government, while the “Founding Fathers” created their collective idealistic government. Even in the early beginnings masculine attributes such as war experience played a role in achieving authority, which is clearly depicted by George Washington becoming the first president. From Washington’s many achievements he was seen as “a hero who held the confidence of virtually all the people” (Euchner and Maltese 10). In the next century two presidents emerged streaming with immense military heroism: Two military heroes, William Henry Harrison (1840) and Zachary Taylor (1848), won presidential election under the Whig [political party] banner…their later presidential victories came with the nomination of military heroes pointed to the organizational weakness of the Whigs. Only strong leadership could temporarily overcome growing Whig schisms and the lack of organization (10). Since receiving independence Britain, presidential candidates have been using their war experience as a crutch to lean on to gain support when they may have lacked other aspects. For decades the government denied women the right to campaign for elected positions in the federal government. After the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women their voting rights, until the 1970s, society slowly began electing female candidates in to national government positions.

During and after the United States failure in the Vietnam War, the Women’s Liberation Movement occurred alongside the Gay Liberation Movement; this forced heterosexual men to reanalyze what real masculinity should be. The concept of masculinity that was generated from this “remasculinization” phase were the new ideal attributes for men being heterosexual white men with either or both metaphorical and literal “muscle.” (476). Literal “muscle” meant that an individual obtained physical strength that was...
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