How Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin “do gender.”
December 16, 2008, 5:49 am
Filed under: Sociolinguistics | Tags: , , ,

A concept from sociolinguistics is that of “doing gender;” namely, that gender is an action someone carries out rather than a property someone has. In this sense, everyone is doing gender all the time, regardless of their biological sex, by their physical actions, their metalinguistic functions (intonation, etc), their body language, and finally their use of linguistic resources.

I wrote a paper on this topic concerning Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, which describes how each of these women seem to do gender in a completely different way.

According to my findings, Clinton acts as current research suggests is common for a female politician by trying to make herself appear more masculine with semi-aggressive language and little comment mitigation. Palin does the opposite and tries to make herself appear wholly feminine – contrary to said research.

A PDF of “Dramatis Personae: How Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin Do Gender” is available here.


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