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‘Are you tough enough?’ Performing gender in the UK leadership debates 2015

Harmer, E; Savigny, H; Ward, O; (2017) ‘Are you tough enough?’ Performing gender in the UK leadership debates 2015. Media, Culture & Society , 39 (7) pp. 960-975. 10.1177/0163443716682074. Green open access

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Abstract

Leaders’ debates have become a feature of contemporary election campaigning. While an historical feature of the US landscape, in the United Kingdom, they are a more recent phenomenon. The second UK 2015 general election leadership debate comprised seven candidates, of which three were women. Using qualitative thematic analysis and adopting the notion that gender is ‘performed’, we explore three features of coverage of the debate. First, the ways in which the debate itself was constructed as a masculine activity through a series of highly gendered metaphors; second, how newspaper frames reinforced gendered notions of masculinity and femininity in respect of political leadership; and third, how the success of women in the debates was constructed as the emasculation of their male rivals. Crucially, we focus not just on the ‘feminisation’ of women in the political arena, but also on the ways in which masculinity is posited as the criterion for the evaluation of politicians of all genders.

Type: Article
Title: ‘Are you tough enough?’ Performing gender in the UK leadership debates 2015
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0163443716682074
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443716682074
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Elections, gender, leadership, newspapers, politics, United Kingdom
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10071388
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