The mediated communication of gender and sexuality in contemporary politics: from equality of representation to the re-emergence of the masculine

Angela Smith, Michael Higgins

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This Special Issue arrives at a time of contradiction and challenge in the study of gender and politics. The strive to have the voices of those outside of the straight white male political order is one that has been the subject of political debate for over a century. From the 1970s onwards, equality came to be enshrined in law in many countries. Progressive politics has begun to internalise this drive for equality of representation, with political institutions such as the Nordic states and devolved parliaments of Wales and Scotland increasing the proportions of women elected to office. Male politicians have been encouraged to demonstrate their own acceptance of such equality issues. Yet, throughout political life, women still confront variations of the dilemma between the exercise of power and conventions of femininity commonly referred to as the “double bind”. In what has recently articulated as the “power paradox”, women are encouraged to pursue political office, but are routinely demeaned and treated with suspicion when they meet with success. Added to this is the rise of a new populism, laced with that toxic masculinity identified by some of our contributors, where gendered abuse has become a tactical resource in a grotesque lexicon of “authentic” expression.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2020


  • gender
  • politics
  • sexuality

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