Browsing Arizona Anthropologist by Authors
Gendered Categories in Presidential Rhetoric: Legitimation and the Gulf WarLondon, Scott (University of Arizona, Department of Anthropology, 1993)Presidential rhetoric in the United States provides a window into the ideological legitimation of the state, including its military activities abroad. An analysis of rhetorical strategies in George Bush's public speech at the time of the Persian Gulf War reveals how gendered categories are employed to justify the war to the American public. Drawing on a dualistic conceptualization of "good" (hegemonic) versus "bad" (subordinate) masculinities, the President's war narrative describes a "noble" American military pitted against a "bestial" enemy. This process of legitimation is inseparable from a broader "moral regulation" of American society in which gendered identities are selectively cultivated and marginalized. Presidential rhetoric helps to reify these identities, which become, in turn, indispensable to the war effort.