Chapter

Gendered Tropes and the New World Order: Cowboys, Welfare Queens, and Presidential Politics at Home and Abroad

Eileen Boris

in America and the Misshaping of a New World Order

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780520098701
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943797 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520098701.003.0008
Gendered Tropes and the New World Order: Cowboys, Welfare Queens, and Presidential Politics at Home and Abroad

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Heroic symbolisms and gender bias have always afflicted politics. This chapter describes the representation of two cultural and political archetypes that inhabits the American political landscape—the cowboy and the welfare queen, which are simultaneously gendered and racialized. The cowboy iconography is recognized for good or ill, displaying characteristics associated with a mythic American heroic figure that tames the wilderness and crusades against outlaws. The welfare queen, in contrast, was a label that detractors gave to poor women, undeservedly growing fat off of government largesse. These represented constructions are the symbols of nation and anti-nation. The chapter sketches the expedition of these icons throughout the political history of America from the tenure of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Such representations had signaled national longings and fears for more than a century. The 2008 presidential election both reflected these icons and upended them with the distinctively non-cowboy persona of Barack Obama.

Keywords: cultural and political archetypes; cowboy iconography; welfare queen; political history of America; Lyndon Baines Johnson; Barack Obama

Chapter.  9324 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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