Male Politicians’ Bodies Now Treated As Political Objects Too

by Project Censored
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Male political candidates now find themselves in an uncomfortable place that their female counterparts always have been.  In the 2012 presidential campaign, commentators have specifically targeted at least three male political leaders for their physical appearance. The most publicized to date have been candidates Chris Christy, Scott Brown, and Mitt Romney.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s weight made him a subject of criticism before he dropped out of the race.  (Endorsing Romney, Christie may well return as a candidate himself in 2016.)  Michael Kinsley, a columnist for the Bloomberg View, wrote that Christie could not become president because, “He is just too fat.”  Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson suggested that Christ “eat a salad and take a walk.”  Though specific male body parts are rarely subject to scrutiny in politics, critical commentators have focused on Mitt Romney’s immobile, “too perfect” hair.

Historically, men’s bodies have been off-limits, even as political commentators have subject female candidates’ bodies to painstaking critique.  Few political women – liberal or conservative – escape the critical male gaze.  In 2008, during her presidential run, Hilary Clinton’s hips, ankles, and even cleavage were an ongoing part of the political discussion.  In this election cycle, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman have been treated as provocateurs and playthings.  By contrast, past male politicians, including Presidents Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey have been allowed to cover their bodies. Others, such as John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Ronald Reagan, displayed fit, attractive bodies by participating in recreational sports and outdoor activities.  In Scott Brown’s case, posing nude as a college student became a factor in his Senate campaign against Elizabeth Warren.

In covering political campaigns, the corporate media is insatiably hungry to find striking physical features to highlight, such as Romney’s hair, Christie’s waistline, or Bachman’s sex appeal. With pundits’ increasing scrutiny of male political candidates’ bodies, the meaning of “the body politic” is being reshaped.


Title: Male Bodies Now Treated As Political Objects Too

Author: Caryl Rivers

Publication:  Womens Enews

Date: 8 November 2011



Faculty Evaluator:  Susan Rahman, Santa Rosa Junior College

Student Researcher:  Corrina Rivera, Santa Rosa Junior College