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"Obama displays many tropes of femaleness"

Kathleen Parker:

If Bill Clinton was our first black president, as Toni Morrison once proclaimed, then Barack Obama may be our first woman president.

Phew. That was fun. Now, if you'll just keep those hatchets holstered and hear me out.

No, I'm not calling Obama a girlie president. But . . . he may be suffering a rhetorical-testosterone deficit when it comes to dealing with crises, with which he has been richly endowed.

It isn't that he isn't "cowboy" enough, as others have suggested. Aren't we done with that? It is that his approach is feminine in a normative sense. That is, we perceive and appraise him according to cultural expectations, and he's not exactly causing anxiety in Alpha-maledom.

We've come a long way gender-wise. Not so long ago, women would be censured for speaking or writing in public. But cultural expectations are stickier and sludgier than oil. Our enlightened human selves may want to eliminate gender norms, but our lizard brains have a different agenda.

Women, inarguably, still are punished for failing to adhere to gender norms by acting "too masculine" or "not feminine enough." In her fascinating study about "Hating Hillary," Karlyn Kohrs Campbell details the ways our former first lady was chastised for the sin of talking like a lawyer and, by extension, "like a man."

Could it be that Obama is suffering from the inverse?

When Morrison wrote in the New Yorker about Bill Clinton's "blackness," she cited the characteristics he shared with the African American community:

"Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."

If we accept that premise, even if unseriously proffered, then we could say that Obama displays many tropes of femaleness. I say this in the nicest possible way. I don't think that doing things a woman's way is evidence of deficiency but, rather, suggests an evolutionary achievement.


Obama is a chatterbox who makes Alan Alda look like Genghis Khan.


The masculine-coded context of the Oval Office poses special challenges, further exacerbated by a crisis that demands decisive action. It would appear that Obama tests Campbell's argument that "nothing prevents" men from appropriating women's style without negative consequences.

Indeed, negative reaction to Obama's speech suggests the opposite. Obama may prove to be our first male president who pays a political price for acting too much like a woman.

And he throws like a girl to boot.


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Comments (12)

Actually Obama's more like ... (Below threshold)
Maggie Mama:

Actually Obama's more like a 40's or 50's woman in that he allows (eagerly seeks) the decisions be made by the "men" around him ..... how about another commission there, Bama baby?

Rick, it's odd that you bri... (Below threshold)

Rick, it's odd that you bring this up -- because I have what I think is a related theme.

Michelle Malkin, for all her vitriol, is actually very chary about profanities. She doesn't swear much, doesn't resort to crassness or vulgarities. Oh, she uses all kinds of fierce, vituperative language, but she's not much for cussing.

Except in one area, that really stands out:


A very sex-specific vulgarism. A uniquely male characteristic that is trending towards a non-gender-specific term. And being pushed by, among others, someone who is as opposite to Obama as possible. Female vs. male. Conservative vs. liberal. Short vs. tall. Asian vs. half black, half white. Mother vs. father. Entrepeneur vs. community organizer.

Related? Perhaps... but an interesting correlation, I think.


Worthy of it's own post Jay... (Below threshold)

Worthy of it's own post Jay Tea my man... most worthy...

He does seem to be touchy, ... (Below threshold)
Don L:

He does seem to be touchy, as if it's always "that time of the month"

I gave up reading Parker du... (Below threshold)

I gave up reading Parker during the election.
Having read this entry here, I see I did the right thing.

Nevertheless, Obama is not our first female president. To refer to him that way is to insult females in general.

Obama is and will remain our Steve Urkel.
The economy, foreign relations, the debt, the Gulf, the Blago connections, everything is worse since he became President. And I can definitely see him staring at himself in the mirror, yet again, and saying out loud:
"Did I do that?"

I am like Hank. I really do... (Below threshold)

I am like Hank. I really don't pay much attention to Kathleen Parker. But reading what she wrote I can think of many, many women who would do a much better job of being president than Obama. So, for me, I am not sure this generalization fits. Now if she had said he has all the characteristics of a self-important mid-level career bureaucrat at the United Nations, I'd pretty much agree with her.

Well, DaveD, I've seen a lo... (Below threshold)

Well, DaveD, I've seen a lot of references to self-important mid-level career bureaucrat at (not the UN but the) European Union as EUnuchs...

Are they really that different?

He's truly a whiny little b... (Below threshold)

He's truly a whiny little bitch, but I wouldn't smear all women by making that comparison.

I believe you are degrading... (Below threshold)

I believe you are degrading women everywhere, even Mrs. President, by comparing the President to them. That makes you a Sexist Racist and this whole line of discussion HATE SPEECH.


Well, he's got the "mom jea... (Below threshold)
Dave Williams:

Well, he's got the "mom jeans" too (worn during the "throws like a girl" segment)

'Obama is a chatterbox who ... (Below threshold)

'Obama is a chatterbox who makes Alan Alda look like Genghis Khan.'

Yes.. Unlike our beloved UNSELECTABLE fool though Alda is a real American. Not just a facsimile of day's gone by/

I'd be curious to know what... (Below threshold)
Bad Science:

I'd be curious to know what Parker's definition of "Not so long ago" is. I've been around for a while, and I haven't ever seen women get "censured" for speaking or writing in public. And I just looked up the word "censured" to make sure I understood what she was saying.
It's my first time commenting here (I think), and thanks for the neat comment preview!






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