From the Margins to the Center: Contemporary Women and Political Communication

From the Margins to the Center: Contemporary Women and Political Communication

From the Margins to the Center: Contemporary Women and Political Communication

From the Margins to the Center: Contemporary Women and Political Communication

Synopsis

From the Margins to the Center fills an important gap in the political communications literature, examining the patterns of women as political communicators in the United States to determine if they have learned the "political game" as defined by men - or if they have carved out the "different kind of politics" envisioned by Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder when she considered seeking the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination. Examining the cases of Lani Guinier, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Janet Reno, the authors explore the rhetorical choices contemporary women are making in political discourse. They frame this exploration theoretically by describing three moral boundaries that discourage women from entering political life: the boundary between morality and politics, the moral point of view boundary, and the boundary between public and private life. Guinier, Clinton, and Reno have each adopted different strategies in confronting these boundaries and in challenging gender stereotypes, and their strategies dramatically illustrate the communication of contemporary political women. Of interest to all in speech communication, political science, and women's studies.

Excerpt

Scientists. . . . tell us that bifurcations or evolutionary branchings in chemical and biological systems involve a large element of chance. But as the evolutionary theorist Erwin Laszlo points out, bifurcations in human social systems also involve a large element of choice. Humans, he points out, "have the ability to act consciously, and collectively," exercising foresight to "choose their own evolutionary path." And he adds that in our "crucial epoch" we "cannot leave the selection of the next step in the evolution of human society to chance. We must plan for it, consciously and purposefully.". . .

Initially this may seem an impossibly difficult task. But as we have seen, our views of reality--of what is possible and desirable--are a product of history.

--Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade (1988, pp. 186-187)

Sometimes in a brief woman-to-woman glance across a committee room, we look at one another with unmistakable frustration, sometimes amazement. We wonder whether we'll ever be the kind of players we should be. We wonder whether we'll ever change the system so that every kind of voice is heard, no matter whether it comes in bass or soprano. But then another day comes and one of us notches up some small victory--an amendment added to a bill maybe, or just a strong op-ed in a newspaper on a critical issue. And we take a collective deep breath and think that we have a fighting chance . . . and we know we will keep on fighting.

--Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, A Woman's Place . . . The Freshmen Women Who Changed the Face of Congress (1994, p. 87) . . .

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