Nagging mothers and monstrous teachers : female politicians in political cartoons : a comparative analysis between Mexico and the U.S.
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This dissertation begins with the observation that discursive and visual representations of women in politics have direct consequences on the actual participation of women in politics (Beail & Goren, 2009; Bimey, 2010). For this reason I analyze current visual representations of female politicians in editorial cartoons. This work focuses on political cartoons because these artifacts provide information about cultural assumptions regarding gender roles and can bring insight about the cultural barriers that women still face when they become political actors. For this project I asked the following questions: How are female politicians represented visually? And how does the existing visual rhetoric enable, debilitate or restrain their political participation? This is also a comparative study of political cartoons that portray women in Mexico and the United States. To answer these questions, I analyze cartoons within a feminist framework, using literature on patriarchy, postfeminism, and the notion of the double binds faced by women in power. To examine portrayals of female politicians I developed a methodological approach that consists in identifying cartoons that rely on gender in order to construct their political commentary. Gendered cartoons are then classified using archetypes —specifically the Great Mother archetype— and stereotypes. For the analysis, I connect Kenneth Burke’s notion of perspective by incongruity with the feminist framework I previously constructed. The cartoons analyzed in this project comprise one decade, from 2002 to 2012, and four newspapers: La Jornada and Reforma (from Mexico), and The New York Times and The Washington Post (from the U.S.). I conclude that the argument that a patriarchal system no longer exists is not valid when we analyze cartoons that clearly resent women’s participation in the public political sphere. In these gendered cartoons women continue to be the symbol of the private sphere of the home. Their presence in the political space is portrayed as incongruous and cartoonists seek to restore the patriarchal order by visually taking women back to their traditional domestic space, depicting them as housewives and mothers. In these instances cartoons become powerful tools for reinforcing the traditional hierarchy of the private and public spheres.