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Personality, Wardrobe and Family Issues: Women Politicians and their Relationship with the Media in the Canadian Context

Mireille Lalancette
Universite du Quebec a Trois-Rivieres
Mireille Lalancette
Universite du Quebec a Trois-Rivieres
Catherine Lemarier-Saulnier
Open Panel

Abstract

In the modern mediated and spectacularized world, politicians have to perform on three stages: institutional, public, and private (Corner, 2003). Their performance in and across these stages, as well as issues of personality, style, family values, and gender, play an important role in their political evaluation. In this context of enhanced personalisation and constant evaluation, how are woman politicians presented in the media? Does one stage take precedence over another? Are Canadian women politicians evaluated using different criteria than their male counterparts, as Van Zoonen (1998, 2006) has demonstrated in the European context? Drawing from works on gender, politics, media, and framing, we intend to answer these questions. More specifically, this paper is based on an analysis of discourses, drawn from various papers, editorials and columns published in the Canadian printed media, on 14 women politicians, including the first elected as a member of parliament and the first elected as a party leader. We will present five main frames consistently used by the media when discussing women politicians, how these portraits influence the political representation of woman and, more globally, the definition of what today’s political leaders should be.