Sex, Sexuality, and the Quest for Power: A Feminist Analysis of the 1988 Republican Presidential Campaign Discourse



The 1988 Presidential campaign in the United States, like all political contests, reveals a struggle for power through the manipulation of symbols. The focus of this paper is the role of women as symbols and as symbolically manipulated in the political discourse of the 1988 Republican Presidential campaign. Two central issues are discussed: the construction of “women's issues,” including abortion, child care, and employment; second, the Willie Horton campaign strategy. This discussion shows that the manipulation of women as symbols in this political discourse relies upon images of women defined essentially by their sexual and procreative functions and their relation to male concerns.