In the excitment of our launch here this week, I–oops!–forgot to post my own column, XY FILES (myths and facts about a new generation of men).Â So here we go…
Remember all that stereotyped talk during the primaries about how Barack leads like a woman (meaning, collaboratively) and Hillary leads like a man (meaning, I suppose, pantsuits)?Â In a Boston Globe column last Feburary, Ellen Goodman described Barack as “the quality circle man, the uniter-not-divider, the person who believes we can talk to anyone, even our enemies.” He finely honed a language “usually associated with women’s voices,” she said.Â Goodman quoted political science professor Kathleen Dolan, who saw Obama as “the embodiment of the gentle, collaborative style without threatening his masculine side.”
Well now that it’s Obama vs. McCain, the gender of leadership has become, well, a little homogenized.Â It’s dude v. dude.Â Again.Â And one of my newfound heroes Jackson Katz (educator, author, filmmaker, bigtime FOF — that’s friend of feminism, mind you) is currently working on a book about â€œpresidential masculinityâ€Â that I can’t wait to read.
According to an article in UCSF Today, Katz says this election is nothing new when it comes to the important role that race and gender have historically played in campaigns for the White House.Â Â While the level of diversity among this yearâ€™s crop of candidates is of course unprecedented, Katz suggests that the battle between the two presidential contenders still boils down to a question of who best represents the stereotypically masculine qualities of a leader: strength, steadfastness and vitality.
â€œThis year, itâ€™s still about masculinity,â€ he says. â€œItâ€™s just white masculinity versus person-of-color masculinity.â€
Or is it?Â Isn’t the Hillary/Sarah effect (ew – I hate putting them so close together like that) still having an impact on the way we talk about leadership’s gender these days?Â Â GWP readers J.K. Gayle and Renee Cramer had some interesting comments on this all back in February, when HRC was still in the race.Â I’d love to pick up the thread again, now that the debates are all black man vs. white man.Â Read the rest from Katz, and let me know what you think!