Continuing on with the theme of political machismo, we should talk about the degree to which specific, everyday language reinforces the notions of machismo. Common expressions of attack against liberally minded or leftwing people use metaphors designed to view such people as weak. For example, environmentalists are often referred to as "tree-huggers." This expression is a denigration of the very notion of care or affection, connoting the idea that those who hug or are convivial are somehow weak and that this weakness demonstrates a naivety. It is no coincidence that this expression has overtones of the weakness of traditional notions of femininity, a tendency which shows itself in other such derisive idioms. Take, for example, the common denigration of any state-sponsored social efforts in the use of the expression "nanny-state." This is a blatant disparagement of the traditionally female role of child-care which lowers the ideas of raising children, femininity, and familial supportiveness all in one fell swoop. Meanwhile, in order to legitimize Margaret Thatcher as a political leader the epithet "iron" (connoting something strong and unbendable) had to be attached to her status as a "lady," as though a woman could not be a symbol of strength without a base metal being grafted on to her. The common expression "bleeding-heart" is another example of macho denigration of all things feminine. By attaching this idiom to anyone who shows undue concern for the welfare of others, once again macho culture uses traditional notions of femininity to disparage acts of care and tenderness.
Meanwhile, violent or male-oriented metaphors abound when it comes to painting a positive picture of someone's political advocacy. "Straight-shooter," "Drug-Czar," "Stay the Course," "Tough on Crime," "War Room," "Political Muscle," are all more of less positive expressions which de facto glorify machismo while raising the masculine to a high place in political nomenclature. This is obviously no coincidence. The fact that the "Terminator" could so easily become the governor or California while popularizing the expression "girlie-man," gives one a quick glimpse into the workings contemporary political reality.
The world changes very slowly and there is little chance that I will see a significant change to political machismo in our culture. In fact, I believe that despite the gains made against sexism and racism during my lifetime, the machismo of political culture is still remarkably strong. The victory of Harper and his bully tactics are surely evidence that in recent years enlightened social concern has taken a significant hit.
Good Morning America ....
5 months ago