The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity

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9780807043448: The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity

A landmark exploration of how male anxiety has come to define our political culture

What is the link between wimp factors, gender gaps, and holy wars—three recognizable political phenomena of the twenty-first century? In this eye-opening book on how male anxiety has come to shape political thinking and behavior, Dr. Stephen Ducat argues that there is a direct association between the magnitude of a man’s femiphobia and his tendency to embrace right-wing political opinions.

Dr. Ducat shows how anxious masculinity has been a discernible subtext in politics throughout the history of Western culture—from the political campaigns of ancient Greece to the current contest for the presidency, and including everything in between, like cartoons of George H. W. Bush exposing his “wimp factor,” the demonization of Hillary Clinton, and the recent war in Iraq. He also explores why and how political issues—such as environmental protection, support for war, welfare reform, immigration, and crime and punishment—get gendered.

Analyzing various aspects of popular culture, such as editorial cartoons, political advertisements, and Freudian slips made by politicians—and drawing on his own pioneering research on the gender gap—Ducat illustrates how men’s fear of the feminine has been a powerful, if subterranean, force. Unexpectedly revealing, The Wimp Factor is a fascinating exposé that will alter our understanding of contemporary politics.

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About the Author:

Stephen J. Ducat is professor of psychology at the School of Humanities at New College of California, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice, and a candidate at the Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern California. The author of Taken In: American Gullibility and the Reagan Mythos, he lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

From Publishers Weekly:

Just as George Herbert Walker Bush announced his candidacy for president in October 1987, the cover of Newsweek pegged him with the emasculating headline "Fighting the Wimp Factor"-a line that clinical psychologist Ducat (Taken In) says put the candidate, his handlers and eventually his son, George W., on the defensive for the next decade and a half. Bush's patrician habits-from asking for a "splash more coffee" at a New Hampshire truck stop to using effete expressions like "dippity do," "darn" and "heck"-would soon be replaced with a (strained) Real Man From Texas image. But if the senior Bush never quite convinced the public, or his own party, that he was anything more than a Connecticut WASP who used "summer" as a verb, Ducat argues that the Republicans had their revenge when the younger Bush won the presidency largely because he was able to convince voters that he was a regular guy, a true Texan. In this insightful analysis of the role male fear plays in politics, Ducat provides in-depth examples of the emotions that may have fueled the Right's attacks on Hillary Rodham Clinton and its animosity towards Bill Clinton. He stumbles a little when he uses his own minimal research to analyze men's psychological reactions to the Persian Gulf War but, overall, Ducat lays out a cogent theory for the motivations behind the good ole boy defense mechanisms. Though this book does preach to the converted, its fresh and complex insights may reach a new generation of swing voters.
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