Gender, Heteronormativity, and the American Presidency
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in CommunicationsNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books Network March 7, 2018 Lilly Goren
Aidan Smith has written a timely and important analysis of the way that we understand images, masculinity, and femininity, especially through the lens of presidential campaigns and political advertising. Smith’s book, Gender, Heteronormativity, and the American Presidency (Routledge, 2017) explores the idea of heteronormativity within our implicit and explicit conceptions of the American presidency—thus focusing not only on how masculinity is deployed to create particular images of candidates running for office, but also how femininity is used for both first ladies, and for female candidates for the White House who must negotiate an even more complicated set of expectations given our two hundred year history with the occupants of the Oval Office. Smith delves into the complexity of gender performance in presidential politics, and how embedded expectations of patriarchy, fatherhood, manly success, and particular experiences (wartime, boardroom, etc.) all contribute to expectations that are applied to those running for office, especially executive office. This book weaves together analyses and perspectives from a number of fields and disciplines, and thus will be of interest to political scientists who study the presidency and campaigns, as well as political theorists who explore questions of gender performance and sexuality, along with historians and communication experts exploring the integration of televisual images within the American household and the impact of this technological shift. This is a broad study that braids together gender performance expectations, heteronormativity, a nuanced understanding of the presidency, and an analysis of what that position and office often mean to the citizenry.