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The Masculinity of the Governator: Muscle and Compassion in American Politics

The Masculinity of the Governator: Muscle and Compassion in American Politics Arnold Schwarzenegger's celebrity status allowed him to project a symbolic masculine persona that was effective in gaining political power as California governor. The well-known violent tough-guy persona that Schwarzenegger developed in the mid-1980s contributed to a post—Vietnam era cultural remasculinization of the American man. But this narrow hyper-masculinity was often caricatured in popular culture and delegitimized. In the 1990s and 2000s, Schwarzenegger forged a credible masculine imagery by introducing characters who were humorously self-mocking and focused on care and protection of children. Schwarzenegger's resultant hybrid masculinity, the “Kindergarten Commando,” represents an ascendant hegemonic masculinity always foregrounding muscle, toughness, and the threat of violence and following with situationally appropriate symbolic displays of compassion. The equation of toughness plus compassion composing the Kindergarten Commando is asymmetrical, with toughness eclipsing compassion; this has implications for the kinds of policies that U.S. elected leaders advocate. Republicans utilize this masculine imagery in national politics to gain voters' trust in times of fear and insecurity and continue to employ a strategy that projects a devalued feminized stigma onto more liberal candidates. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Gender & Society SAGE

The Masculinity of the Governator: Muscle and Compassion in American Politics

Gender & Society , Volume 21 (4): 20 – Aug 1, 2007

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References (17)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
Copyright © by SAGE Publications
ISSN
0891-2432
eISSN
1552-3977
DOI
10.1177/0891243207303166
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Arnold Schwarzenegger's celebrity status allowed him to project a symbolic masculine persona that was effective in gaining political power as California governor. The well-known violent tough-guy persona that Schwarzenegger developed in the mid-1980s contributed to a post—Vietnam era cultural remasculinization of the American man. But this narrow hyper-masculinity was often caricatured in popular culture and delegitimized. In the 1990s and 2000s, Schwarzenegger forged a credible masculine imagery by introducing characters who were humorously self-mocking and focused on care and protection of children. Schwarzenegger's resultant hybrid masculinity, the “Kindergarten Commando,” represents an ascendant hegemonic masculinity always foregrounding muscle, toughness, and the threat of violence and following with situationally appropriate symbolic displays of compassion. The equation of toughness plus compassion composing the Kindergarten Commando is asymmetrical, with toughness eclipsing compassion; this has implications for the kinds of policies that U.S. elected leaders advocate. Republicans utilize this masculine imagery in national politics to gain voters' trust in times of fear and insecurity and continue to employ a strategy that projects a devalued feminized stigma onto more liberal candidates.

Journal

Gender & SocietySAGE

Published: Aug 1, 2007

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