Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Man-Up campaign

The tea party women have adopted a policy to challenge the "man hood" of their male running mates.

Sharron Angle told Harry Reid to "man-up" in her Nevada campaign debate against the senate majority leader. Sarah Palin also told Democrats that it's time for them to man-up.

Christine O’Donnell (Delaware, and the lady against masturbation!) said this about her opponent Mike Castle in September. “These are the type of cheap underhanded un-manly tactics that we’ve come to expect…this is not a bake-off; get your man-pants on.”

The man-up is a phrase is used mostly by women from the Tea and Republican Parties. It’s effective because it not only makes the woman look tough; it leaves their male opponents speechless.

When a woman tells a man to “man-up” there isn’t an effective comeback I can think of that would not sound sexist. For example, he can’t say, “Stop crying.” Or, “Stop complaining.”

ABC News said that there’s more to the “man-up” campaign.

They say its part of the Tea Party format that involves labeling your opponent while defining yourself in likable terms (mother, parent, PTA leader); and then saying what you oppose, like it’s the worst thing in the world. Things like spending, health care and fast train.

Maybe that’s why all the ads sound alike.

This campaign man-up phase sounds similar to the Miller Lite man-up ads.

In the “Purse or Carryall” ad, a guy walks up to the bar, orders a light beer and tells the female bartender he doesn’t care about the taste.

She tells him when he starts caring, to “put down your purse and I’ll give you a Miller Lite.” He takes his beer and makes it through the crowd with a big white purse.

What do you think about the man-up campaign sweeping the nation?

For those of you who like Stephen Colbert as much as I do, his Oct. 25th episide (can be seen on hulu), addresses the "man up" campaign in his "the word" segment.


  1. I'm thrilled you've brought this highly-problematic campaign tactic to our blog. By the way, who posted this? :)
    Shortly, we'll be reading a piece called "Female Chauvenist Pigs" that speaks to the way many women have bought into patriarchy (and the notion that to "get ahead" one has to reinforce sexist modes of thinking, speaking, & being). Certainly, the "man up" campaign is a direct example of this. It epitomizes how narrow concepts of gender roles are disenfranchising to both men and women. For a gender-identified female candidate to send the message to a gender-identified male candidate that he's not being "man enough" is insulting, confining, and abusive, and it's very insightful of you to offer the commentary that it leaves the males who've been targeted with this insult little recourse. Not only can they not respond in kind because it would be exploitive (and my guess is this is a huge part of the reason why these female candidates are doing it; they know the men won't respond, for fear they'll be considered sexist), but also, if any of these male candidates were to say something to the effect of, "I am a man, and your implication that I need to 'man up' is a reinforcement of archaic, unhelpful, patriarchal gender roles," the sad truth is he would probably be further targeted by a culture that continues to buy into stereotypical worldviews and many might genuinely not understand what he was talking about, because dominant systems of oppression maintain their power by not being problematized.
    Thank you, again, for posting this. Let's get out there and educate folks that phrases like "Man Up" are offensive, ill-informed, and certainly belie a mindset that I wouldn't want to elect to any political office. -Jordana

  2. Oops, sorry about not stamping my name on the post. I,Josiah, am responsible for posting this topic. I am really surprised at the emergence of this campaign. It is well crafted, effective, and catchy. I thought it is a great example of how main stream media and the general public respond positively to this type of harassment. The very fact that telling someone to "man up" is insulting is very illustrative of how gender roles are ingrained in the political structure. Anyway, it just made me really think about it, so I figured I would share.

  3. Awesome! Thanks, Josiah. You're spot on, and I really appreciate you bringing this to the blog. :) -Jordana

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Yep, definitely a textbook example of female chauvinist pigdom.Y'all have made great commentary.
    I'm interested in what 'man-up' implies - clearly, no femininity allowed in the public sphere of toughness, practical smarts, and getting-things-done-time. not only does this totally bash femininity, it, as jordana so aptly put, "is a reinforcement of archaic, unhelpful, patriarchal gender roles." psh.
    I guess this whole campaign makes me wonder what it means to be a man. not a simple question by any means... the folks over in the men and masculinity course still don't have any clear answers (manswers?). I have, however, heard friends from that class reference the terms "patriarchal masculinity" and "integrated masculinity."
    Patriarchal masculinity almost needs no description because we are all so familiar with its image: breadwinner, protector, chivalrous, in charge, dominant, physically strong, rational, stoic, homophobic, independent, assertive to the point of aggression, competitive, virile... etc etc.
    While there are elements of this formulation of ideal manhood which are great, as a whole they are incredibly restrictive and damaging for men.
    Good news: the folks in the men and masculinity class, and many others, are concerned with the question of creating an alternative model of masculinity - integrated masculinity - which leaves room for compassion, emotional vulnerability, respect for women, etc. essentially, a valuing of and opening to traditionally 'feminine' characteristics. while some men (and women) see this as emasculating, others see it as incredibly liberating.
    and also, if integrating and expressing all aspects of one's humanity, including the aspects considered 'feminine,' is considered humiliating and undesirable, it just goes to show how deeply devalued and belittled femininity is in our culture.

    What do y'all think? How can we (should we?/do we need to?) create alternatives to traditional masculinity which serve both men and women? what does integrated masculinity look like to you?

    great topic josiah!


  6. ALSO!

    here's a great, though hyperbolic, example of what integrated masculinity might look like: FEMINIST HULK. yeah, you read that right.

    and for good measure, here's the link to men and masculinity's awesome blog: