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The Wimp Factor: Gender Gaps, Holy Wars, and the Politics of Anxious Masculinity

3.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807043455
ISBN-10: 0807043451
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Editorial Reviews

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (September 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807043451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807043455
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When watching staged newscasts of politicians strutting around in military regalia and lugging carcasses through the woods, do you ever get the feeling that there's some, well, compensation going on? In _The Wimp Factor_, Ducat analyzes how our culture's interpretation of gender interacts with politics and political discourse from a psychological perspective. Ducat hypothesizes that since men must continuously prove themselves masculine to be accepted as such, they develop an unconcious fear of feminine "contamination," femiphobia, which spills over into the political arena. Each chapter looks at a different example of the gendering of politics, such as how Bill and Hillary Clinton's images changed before and after the Lewinsky scandal and how gendered language shapes voter perceptions of issue politics. The result is a very interesting and accessible book that contains scathing analysis with a witty sense of humor. Ducat focuses on men and masculinity, which leaves short shift for some other aspects of the topic and can leave the impression that he is being oversimplistic. For example, the section on the psychology of right-wing women was disappointingly brief. However, despite some out of context quotes lifted by other reviewers, Ducat does not essentialize all women as good and all men as evil, nor does he pretend that gender is the only factor at work in politics. He simply stays within the bounds of his topic. The biggest criticism I have is that the Freud-speak does become tiresome after a while (unless you happen to be a die-hard Freudian, I guess).
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Format: Hardcover
This was a good book, interesting theories, definitely of the psychoanalytical

school of thought. More interesting however, how any critisim of Bush illicits

such rabid and fanatical shrieks of defensive denial and "liberal", which has

some how been corrupted into the equivalent of "communist". Claiming to be dis-

crediting his analysis without providing sources is essentially meaningless as

Mr. Ducat DOES have sources to back up his claims. Screaming the loudest does not

make it so!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The recent election left me with an uncomfortable feeling. Many people that I know supported Kerry but didn't vote for him. Most cited reasons such as "He is kind of wimpy" or "I don't think he is strong enough to lead us right now." When I stumbled across Ducat's book, I found a spring board for exploring people's uneasiness with "less than manly" politicians".

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.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is an amazing tour de force of the political and psychological landscape in America today. From George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" while adorned in a flight suit to John Kerry tramping through the Michigan woods in a camoflague jacket totting a shotgun, the "politics of anxious masculinity," as Stephen Ducat calls the phenomenon, couldn't be more pervasive. Ducat's scholarship shines throughout this erudite, entertaining look at what passes for masculinity in our media-driven culture, surpassed only by his wit and sense of humor. While Freud might have asked, "What do women want?", Ducat's prescient analysis of who men mistakenly think thery are is likely to remain relevant long after late December, when this crazy election is likely to be settled, for better or (W)orse.

Scott Lines, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist

Berkeley, CA
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Format: Paperback
While U.S. citizens like to think that they are residing in the "home of the brave," the truth is we're a very frightened population. The constant warnings that one country or another is a threat to our existence, the hysteria over immigrants, the endless stream of cop shows; it all serves to frighten the people of our military empire. That's where the tough guy marketing of Bush comes in, he was sold to the voting public (which skews heavily toward wealthier people, with 100 million mostly poorer people not voting or not even registered to vote) as the sort of strong man who would protect us, while keeping us in denial about the terror we bring to other human beings in the world Collateral Damage: America's War Against Iraqi Civilians.
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.
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