In the waning days of the presidential campaign, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain are the leads in a gripping national drama about masculinity.
McCain has replaced George Bush as the standard bearer for conventional manhood:stubborn, controlling, shoot-from-the-hip, inflexible.
Obama offers quite a contrast. In scores of newspaper endorsements, editors have described him as sensitive, thoughtful, composed and collaborative. All this reflects a new brand of masculinity. Obama's gains in the polls as the economic situation worsens suggest voters prefer his"let's stay calm" approach to the financial crisis than the McCain-Palin fear-mongering attempts to frighten voters with charges the Illinois senator is a closet socialist who wants to"spread the wealth around".
While "It's the masculinity, stupid" never became a campaign slogan, manhood is a campain subtext.
Consider how a less strident brand American masculinity as practised by an Obama-Biden administration might polish America's tarnished reputation Internationally.
Remember the reception Obama received to his stirring speech in Berlin in August when he sounded themes of collaboration and reconciliation Internationally?
Obama has registered supporters' calls to find the "killer instict" and "go for the jugular". They miss the point. The way we read Obama really does want to do things differently. He seems to understand that the old-school manhood- marked by suspicion and isolation- translates into old-style politics and visa versa. Trust and collaboration, by contrast, seem the hallmarks of the Obama style.
WeNews commentator Rob Okun (womensenews.org)