Amsterdam School of Communication Research / ASCoR

Genderization of Political Parties during U. S. Presidential Election Campaigns

20Sept2017 15:30 - 17:00


Research Priority Area Communication lecture by Professor Maria Elizabeth (Betsi) Grabe (The Media School, Indiana University Bloomington) on genderization of political parties

 “All people are born alike--except Republicans and Democrats.”

-- Groucho Marx

Every four years, during presidential election campaigns in the United States, irreconcilable differences between Republican and Democrat candidates are played out in mediated political theater. Policy experts often point to the stunning similarities between the nominees from the two major parties. Yet, the news media, candidates themselves, and citizens participate in cementing them into opposing camps, setting the stage for a grand battle to Election Day. One way to drum up difference where there is little, is to fit the two major political party nominees into a gender dichotomy--despite the fact that their biological sex was all male until 2016.  Since the 1970s Democrats have become fixed to the feminine side and some scholars argue that their testosterone verve has been ridiculed by Republicans, journalists, and comedians alike. By 1992 Sidney Blumenthal, in a Gentleman’s Quarterly article, argued that Democratic Party stereotypes of soft-heartedness have reached unmanly levels. Comparatively, Republicans were gaining notoriety for their testosterone ­secreting modus of winner­-takes-­it­-all. This longitudinal pattern of binary gender assignment in U. S. politics became more complicated during the 2016 presidential election when the first woman (pantsuit wearing no less) emerged as the presidential candidate for Democrats.

During this talk, the methods for assessing genderization and results of studies that tracked gender frames across elections (1992-2016) and media platforms (TV and social media) will be discussed. This comprehensive approach offers insight into journalistic genderization of political parties over time as well as the electorate’s engagement in gender politics during the 2016 election via social media. Some findings suggest that future daily tracking polls may benefit from incorporating social media cues in predicting election outcomes.

About Bestsi Grabe

Betsi Grabe is the Associate Dean and a professor in the Media School at Indiana University. She came to IU in 1995 as a faculty member in the former School of Journalism and moved to the Department of Telecommunications in 2006 where she served as the Graduate Director from 2007 to 2010.

Most of her scholarly work is in the information processing area, looking at how visual content and message packaging influence comprehension. Her book, Image Bite Politics: News and the Visual Framing of Elections (with Erik Bucy; Oxford University Press, 2009), received the 2010 Outstanding Book Award from the International Communication Association and the 2010 Distinguished Book Award from the Communication and Social Cognition Division of the National Communication Association.

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Location: Roeterseiland Campus, room C10.20

  • Roeterseilandcampus - building B/C/D (entrance B/C)

    Nieuwe Achtergracht 166 | 1018 WV Amsterdam
    Building B: +31 (0)20 525 5340 | Building C: +31 (0)20 525 5470

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Published by  ASCoR