Monday, November 20, 2006

The 2006 Elections and Masculinity

My name is Liz Harmon and I am the Communications Intern at Men Can Stop Rape. I am responsible for assisting the Director of Communications with various marketing and media projects as well as providing the office with administrative support. Before I joined Men Can Stop Rape, I was an intern on a congressional campaign so I’d like to hope that I developed a more in depth understanding of politics as a result of my internship. This entry is derived from the awareness I have gained while working for MCSR as well as some of my past experience in politics.

Everyone was shocked that the Democrats were able to win a majority in Congress in the recent mid-term elections. Political analysts, politicians, and individuals all agreed that the Democrats would take the House but never the Senate. After the race- the Democrats ended up winning both. Why does it seem like so much of America has rejected the Republican Party?

I believe that America isn’t really rejecting the Republican Party as much as they are rejecting the authoritative and dominating character that politicians have taken on. I’m not really sure how it happened, but somewhere along the way the “real men” of politics came to be defined as strong, powerful, paternal and dominating. Consider Representatives Peter Hoekstra, Senator Rick Santorum, and especially President Bush who made sure we all knew how strong and powerful they were before they got elected. In my own personal opinion, the values and beliefs of the wealthy right-winged Christian conservatives became mandatory for almost any candidate because that’s where the campaign money could be found. As a result of this political and financial relationship, the current generation of Republican (and conservative Democratic) politicians told America that the only way to get things done was to be militaristically aggressive in Iraq and to practice paternalistic governance at home.

Through these mid-term elections, I believe the American public is rejecting some of the traditional norms of masculinity that have recently defined politics. Instead, the country seems to be opting for more open-minded representation that will use diplomacy instead of force and authority. Whether people are Republican or Democrat, I hope that by embracing alternative non-aggressive methods to achieve our goals, this country can emulate other forms of strength that will bring peace at home and abroad.

-Liz Harmon

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