Women's Political Discourse: A 21st Century Perspective.
By Molly Mayhead and Brenda Devoe Marshall. Lanham, MD: Rowman and
Littlefield. 2005. 304 pp. $75.00 cloth, $26.00 paper.
Political discourse has proven a worthy source of material for
scholarly investigation into power, politics, and policymaking. Policy
scholars have frequently used discourse to explore issue framing, media
content, and policy decisions (e.g., Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones,
Agendas and Instability in American Politics, 1993; Roger W. Cobb
and Charles D. Elder, Participation in American Politics: The Dynamics
of Agenda Building, 1983; Deborah Stone, Policy Paradox,
1997; Nayda Terkildsen, Frauke I. Schnell, and Cristina Ling,
“Interest Groups, the Media, and Policy Debate Formation: An
Analysis of Message Structure, Rhetoric, and Source Cues,”
Political Communication 15 : 45–61). As a
tool for investigating abortion debates (e.g., Myra Marx Ferree, William
Anthony Gamson, Jurgen Gerhards, and Dieter Rucht, Shaping Abortion
Discourse: Democracy and the Public Sphere in Germany and the U.S.,
2002) or sex education (e.g., Janice M. Irvine, Talk about Sex: The
Battles over Sex Education in the U.S., 2002), discourse also reveals
the gendered dimensions of contemporary American politics. At the same
time, this insight is not lost on advocates and opinion leaders:
“Words are … bullets” in the culture wars, says James
Dobson, founder of the conservative evangelical group Focus on the Family
(quoted in Irvine 2002, 73).