Saturday, October 30, 2004

Books To Buy

Shock and Awe: War on Words
(New Pacific Press: Fall 2004)
Bregje van Eekelen, Jennifer González, Bettina Stötzer, Anna Tsing

A review here:

A Few Good Words

A new book offers a provocative lens through which to reconsider words suffering
from deft right wing manipulation.
The Wimp Factor

The author of a new and timely book reveals how American politics is shaped by a
cultural definition of masculinity that is based on disavowing all things

The Wimp Factor: Gender gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity
By Stephen J. Ducat
Beacon Press, 291 pp., $25.00

Someone should alert the Department of Homeland Security: Femiphobic men
are running the country, and they're heavily armed and bent on proving their
manhood. Phallic symbols have come a long way, baby, and while Freud may have
been right when he said that "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," in this day
and age it's all too clear how a cruise missile can serve as a phallus of mass

Masculinity in politics is a topic that's been explored before, but
never with the level of detail and, um, penetrating analysis that Ducat, a
psychology professor at New College of California, provides.

Ducat explains that fear of the "wimp factor"--a term first applied in
presidential politics in 1988--remains pervasive and truly bipartisan. A
flight-suited George W. Bush doll graces the cover of the book, and Ducat
diagnoses Bush's "Mission Accomplished" stunt on the aircraft carrier as both "a
masculine drag performance" and "a massive denial of reality." He also points
out that the Democratic candidate has labored, in a similarly calculated
fashion, to demonstrate his manliness. As far back as November 2003, John Kerry
was inviting reporters out to watch him shoot pheasants with a 12-gauge.
"Apparently," Ducat writes, "Mr. Kerry wanted to reassure the male electorate
that even though he supports a ban on assault weapon sales, he still likes to
kill things." --Jon Elliston

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