Published: Good Men Project (July 7, 2015)
American foreign policy has long been governed by ideas of masculinity. Now it’s time to evaluate what that has meant for our nation – and how we should redefine “masculinity” in the future.
Why do we equate “masculinity” with “aggressiveness” when conducting our foreign policy?
“In the aftermath of September 11 Bush enacted a highly masculine ideology through his treatment of the press and emphasis upon two masculine themes–strength and dominance–and that this approach facilitated wide circulation of his masculine discourse in the press.”
Even without summarizing the rest of the article, it isn’t hard to remember the tropes of machismo that Bush demonstrated throughout his presidency: The “you’re either with us or against us” rhetoric, the cowboy swagger, the retrospectively ironic aircraft carrier landing in front of a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished”… all used in the service of waging two wars to avenge a terrorist attack whose perpetrator remained at large (and quite comfortable) in spite of them. Seven years later, when President Obama was being criticized for not using the military to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine and various Islamic extremists in the Middle East, his manhood was inevitably drawn into the discussion. This choice quote from conservative columnist David Brooks neatly summed up the thinking (which, he noted, he does not entirely share):