Article published in:The Mediated Communication of Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Politics
Edited by Angela Smith and Michael Higgins
[Journal of Language and Politics 19:1] 2020
► pp. 144–159
Constructing women’s “different voice”
Gendered mediation in the 2015 UK General Election
Since the 1990s, media commentators in the UK and elsewhere have praised women for introducing a “visibly different style of politics”, one symbol of which is the alleged preference of female politicians for a less adversarial and more co-operative style of political speech. Drawing on an analysis of the 2015 UK General Election campaign, we argue that this notion of women’s “different voice” has become increasingly central to the media’s construction of prominent female politicians as public figures, despite the evidence that it does not reflect any clear-cut pattern of differentiation between male and female political speakers of equivalent status and experience. Though it may seem to be an advance on previous negative representations of female politicians, we suggest that it reproduces – albeit in a “modernized” form – the long-established tendency of the media to evaluate women in relation to gendered norms and expectations, while men are judged as individuals.
Keywords: election debates, gendered mediation, speech style, UK politics, women.
Published online: 15 January 2020