Kristina Horn Sheeler and Karrin Vasby AndersonJul 6, 2023
Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture
Texas A&M University Press 2013
Kristina Horn Sheeler and Karrin Vasby Anderson have each worked on and researched questions of gender, leadership, executive positions, and popular culture. In Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture (Texas A&M Press, 2013), Horn Sheeler and Vasby Anderson examine the experiences of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin as both women ran for office in 2008, at the presidential and vice-presidential level respectively. Woman President digs into the question of gendered presidentiality, and how this contributes to voters’ expectations and to the double bind that most female candidates face, especially those running for executive positions. The requirement that women must demonstrate capacity and capability and ambition, but at the same time not appear to be threatening, overly ambitious, or unfeminine is particularly complicated for presidential or vice-presidential candidates in the United States. Horn Sheeler and Vasby Anderson dive into the issue of feminism as it has swirled around politics for decades, but particularly in the ways that feminism and postfeminism framed the 2008 election cycle and has come to frame and contribute to more discussions of gender and politics in subsequent election cycles. They also integrate popular culture narratives around women and the presidency and explore the interaction between imaginary narratives and real life and how each influences the other, while providing a space for citizens and voters to see non-white/male/Christian/straight individuals occupying the Oval Office.
In Women, Feminism, and Pop Politics (Peter Lang, 2018), Vasby Anderson brings together a diversity of voices and scholars to explore the connection between popular culture narratives, women, and feminism, particularly as seen within the context of American politics. This edited volume integrates analysis of a variety of sites where politics, gender, and popular culture interact. The first section of the book explores iconic embodiments of real women and feminism, and how these embodiments communicate ideas about women, and questions of gender equality. The second section of the book interrogates parody and satire in the late-night television zone, where different shows and different comedic formats present differing views of feminism, gender, and politics. Finally, the last section of the book explores the scripted narratives of dramas and comedies (The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, Scandal, Veep, and Parks and Rec) and what these imaginaries provide for audiences as we consider both fictional and real women in power.
Both books are important explorations of the complexities of women, gender, and power within the U.S. political system, with particular attention to the issues that surround the American presidency and the idea of presidentiality.
Lilly J. Goren is a professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (University Press of Kansas, 2022), as well as co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), Email her comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet to @gorenlj.