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Cyborgs on the World Stage: Hillary Clinton and the Rhetorical Performances of Iron Ladies

From: Feminist Formations
Volume 23, Issue 1, Spring 2011
pp. 1-24 | 10.1353/ff.2011.0006

Abstract

Abstract:

In this article, the writer argues that the nickname of "iron lady" for women leaders provides an accurate and complicated instantiation of Donna Haraway's cyborg ontology, providing women a place from which to be responsible for their machinery, while also positioning them (potentially) as complicit agents in the hegemonic traditions of national manhood. Therefore, iron ladies—these women who are heads of state—present embodied and real-world examples of the debate over the potentials and pitfalls of cyborg ontology in women's studies and feminist research. This article uses historical examples of Margaret Thatcher, Eugenia Charles, and Indira Ghandi to establish the rhetorical trope of iron ladies; then it complicates this tradition with contemporary leaders' performance of iron lady, examining the political personas of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Benazir Bhutto, Ségolène Royal, and Hillary Clinton. To conclude, the writer analyzes the current U.S. political climate for the emergence of an iron lady president. Based on Clinton's campaign in 2008, it seems that the iron lady rhetorical performance had become visible to the same patriarchal systems that cyborgs attempt to subvert, thus requiring female politicians to reconsider the potentials of this technologized rhetorical performance.



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