Jun. 15th, 2008

heron61: (Default)
Here's an excellent NYT article by Susan Faludi on Obama and gender. I don't know how much I agree with her analysis, but she is definitely correct that Barack Obama is not portraying himself, or allowing others to portray him as a traditional masculine hero - he's not showing himself as a warrior, a cowboy, a fierce defender of faith or patriotism, or any similar aggressive, violent, (and IMHO vile) role, and while not as revolutionary as having a female president, I am impressed. I can't think of any president who did anything like this, except perhaps for Jimmy Carter. Of course, this similarity is hardly surprising, since the discontent that brought Carter into office is (vaguely) similar to the discontent that is almost certain to make Obama our next president.

What is worth noting is that aggressive "manly" heroes became very popular in the 1980s and have remained so, but I remember very different media portrayals of men and masculinity from the 1970s. In the 1980s, as the nation became vastly more conservative than previously, and the anti-feminist backlash came into fully force, (unsurprisingly) portrayals of men and masculinity became far more regressive and aggressive than they we the decade before. Perhaps that particular bit of nonsense is at (very long) last coming to an end. I find it very odd how much presidents can affect popular culture (with results going so far as John Kennedy not wearing hats largely ending the fashion for male hats), but this happens, and in this case (if Faludi is indeed correct, which I'm not certain of) then I see Obama as both benefiting from a change that has already been (slowly) building and perhaps driving it further. We shall definitely see.

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