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The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity Hardcover – September 9, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Just as George Herbert Walker Bush announced his candidacy for president in October 1987, the cover of Newsweek pegged him with the emasculating headline "Fighting the Wimp Factor"-a line that clinical psychologist Ducat (Taken In) says put the candidate, his handlers and eventually his son, George W., on the defensive for the next decade and a half. Bush's patrician habits-from asking for a "splash more coffee" at a New Hampshire truck stop to using effete expressions like "dippity do," "darn" and "heck"-would soon be replaced with a (strained) Real Man From Texas image. But if the senior Bush never quite convinced the public, or his own party, that he was anything more than a Connecticut WASP who used "summer" as a verb, Ducat argues that the Republicans had their revenge when the younger Bush won the presidency largely because he was able to convince voters that he was a regular guy, a true Texan. In this insightful analysis of the role male fear plays in politics, Ducat provides in-depth examples of the emotions that may have fueled the Right's attacks on Hillary Rodham Clinton and its animosity towards Bill Clinton. He stumbles a little when he uses his own minimal research to analyze men's psychological reactions to the Persian Gulf War but, overall, Ducat lays out a cogent theory for the motivations behind the good ole boy defense mechanisms. Though this book does preach to the converted, its fresh and complex insights may reach a new generation of swing voters.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
'A deeply important insight in the hands of a gifted writer.'--Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of The Commercialization of Intimate Life
'[Ducat's] fresh and complex insights may reach a new generation of swing voters.'--Publishers Weekly
'Even those who disagree with Ducat's values can appreciate his skillful deployment of anecdotes, media, and wordplay.'--Psychology Today --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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I think it is must read.....even more so in this important political year.
Some of Ducat's theories aren't supported with enough evidence, but overall it is an interesting and slightly alternative view of politics and gender. Definately worth a read.
In place of the corporate uniform, we would see Bush dress up with a cowboy hat, sporting a large belt buckle, clearing brush on his ranch (which was purchased as a prop shortly before the 2000 election), and crawling into an oversized gas-guzzling pick-up truck. Yee Haw!
Meanwhile, our military is in the Middle East once again killing tribal people in a continuation of the Indian Wars.
Oddly, another part of the marketing of Bush as a macho man was the regular rhetorical question (from right-wing PR agents like Sean Hannity), "wouldn't you rather drink a beer with Bush than Kerry?" Well, considering that Bush is a recovering alcoholic, "no."
Wilhelm Reich's The Mass Psychology of Fascism touches on some of the themes of "The Wimp Factor." Anarchist philosophers also expose the idolatry of authority and manipulations of religiosity and sexism that "leaders" have been employing since the beginning of empire. In Christianity and Patriotism, Leo Tolstoy wrote that "every government explains its existence and justifies all its violence on the ground that if it were not there things would be worse" (sound familiar?). People interested in issues of authoritarianism may want to explore the works of thinkers like Rudolf Rocker An Anarchist Rabbi: The Life and Teachings of Rudolf Rocker, Emma Goldman Emma Goldman: American Individualist (Library of American Biography Series) (2nd Edition) (Library of American Biography) and Alexander Berkman Life of an Anarchist: The Alexander Berkman Reader, 2nd Edition.
Scared people will applaud, or at least submit to, the "strong" man. The best way to discover courage and find our own authentic identities is to undertake a course in intellectual self-defense. Ducat's book is an important contribution, and I'd also recommend Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (the companion book to the award winning film).
"The ability and inclination to use physical strength is no indication of bravery or tenacity to life. The greatest cowards are often the greatest bullies. Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery. Common experience shows how much rarer is moral courage than physical bravery. A thousand men will march to the mouth of the cannon where one man will dare espouse an unpopular cause. True courage and manhood come from the consciousness of the right attitude toward the world, the faith in one's own purpose, and the sufficiency of one's own approval as a justification for one's own acts." - Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil
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