In Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor Kristina Horn Sheeler and Colorado State University professor Karrin Vasby Anderson examine the 2008 candidacies of Clinton and Palin, and presidential campaigns of other women, along with campaign public addresses, political journalism and punditry, political humor, and television and movie depictions of female presidents. The authors uncover a political and popular culture backlash against women that has kept the White House a man’s place.
“When media depictions of female candidates are based on sexist stereotypes, or worse yet, pornographic and misogynistic framing, we have not just a political culture that discredits political women, but a larger cultural undercurrent that demonstrates a backlash against the gains women have made in the last decade,” Sheeler said.
Sheeler is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Anderson is an associate professor of communication studies at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. The duo also co-authored “Governing Codes: Gender, Metaphor, and Political Identity.”
In “Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture,” Sheeler and Anderson provide a discussion of U.S. presidentiality as a unique rhetorical role. Within that framework, they review women’s historical and contemporary presidential bids, placing special emphasis on the 2008 campaign. They also consider how presidentiality is framed in candidate oratory, campaign journalism, film and television, digital media and political parody.
“Everyone seeking a more complete understanding of the presidency, campaign rhetoric, gender studies and the role of the media in the portrayal of women in the White House and in coverage of women in campaigns, including the election of 2008, will find the scholarship and analysis in this book of value,” said Janet M. Martin, author of “The Presidency and Women: Promise, Performance and Illusion in the White House” and professor of government at Bowdoin College.
“Examining women’s historical and recent presidential campaigns, television and movie depictions of women presidents, and the 2008 Clinton and Palin candidacies, Sheeler and Anderson reveal the hegemonic power wielded by an essentialist white masculinity. Their argument is uncompromising and compelling, controversial and persuasive; their book engages and challenges readers across the disciplines,” said MaryAnne Borrelli, author of” The Politics of the President’s Wife” and professor of government at Connecticut College.
Sheeler’s and Anderson’s book, published by Texas A & M University Press, hit bookstore shelves last month.