The "toughness conundrum" : contemporary mainstream media images of women in the public sphere during the "war on terror"

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Date

2009-05

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Struckman, Sara Lynn

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Abstract

This dissertation explores the relationship between gender, war, and media constructions of both. Using the theoretical frameworks of the social constructions of gender and the gendered constructions of the public sphere, I have analyzed how Time magazine portrayed Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton in discussions of war. Time represents mainstream mediated coverage in this case. Rice and Clinton represent women outside the normal boundaries of femininity. First, they were participants in the public sphere, which is largely male-dominated in our society. Second, both women were involved in discussions of war and foreign policy. Their participation in this area of the public sphere is a contradiction to how society expects women to act during war time. The most interesting conclusion is the way the women are linked back to the private sphere through their relationships with men. These representations align with historical theoretical definitions of the public sphere, which favor male participation and often disregard female participation.

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