Whoever you are, female Gender Studies grad student, Republican male politician, male Marine in Falluja, you probably blog (partly) in the feminine style….What do I mean?
Let me get theoretical on you.
Blogs are about personal relationships. Interaction. Even intimacy.
Now, intimacy between leaders and the group, even if historically it has been part of male-to-male fellowship in war, sports, or politics, has elements of what students of political communication have called the “feminine style” in campaigns and elections. While this sort of classification scheme can often devolve into stereotypes of sensitive women and tough men, there is a considerable weight of research that suggests that a feminine style of public speechmaking includes the following:
(a) the address is made person-to-person, intimate, with personal pronouns;
(b) the speaker relates personal experiences that intentionally connect with probable personal experiences of the audience;
(c) the speaker offers anecdotes and stories as justifications for positions held
(d) the speaker invites the audience to actively participate in some sort of quest or venture
(e) the speaker’s logic of reasoning offered for arguments in speech is inductive, proceeding from the particular example to the general condition.
In contrast, the classic masculine style of speechmaking deploys deductive logic, making general policy positions and then deploying examples and ideas to support them. The masculine speaker is concerned with asserting his authority on a subject, of declaiming expertise and citing other authorities to back him up, e.g., government statistics or concurring experts. Masculine speakers will use examples drawn from history or science that may not have any personal connection to their own lives or that of the audience.
No politician today, male or female, is classically 100 percent masculine or feminine in style. Whatever their innate tendencies, political professionals understand the need for what I call “counter-typing,” fostering a public image that encourages positive stereotypes held about your candidate and that deflects negative ones. For example, a female Democratic politician running for governor of, say, Texas, knows very well that she needs to appear “tough” on crime and so on; likewise the male politicians will try to appear “caring.” Again these might be stereotypes, but the politician who ignores prejudices and preexisting beliefs in the electorate will not have a long career.
It is clear that for at least a generation, the masculine and feminine styles have been employed by male and female office-seekers and holders employing and mixing both styles, but perhaps with a greater emphasis on the abilities of feminine style elements to build trust and kinship with audiences.
One need look no further than the now standard rhetorical device of the State of the Union Address or Presidential Nominating Convention Speech, where the political leader references major national or international policies by introducing grandmothers, Marines, and boy scouts placed in the audience: “Among those our new American Safe Home Act will help are heroes like firefighter Hector Rodriguez, sitting right up there…”
Blogs are perhaps the ultimate merger of the feminine style into political discourse–whoever or whatever you are.
Originally posted December 25, 2005 at PolicyByBlog