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The following article appeared in Left Business Observer #108, July 2004. It retains its copyright and may not be reprinted or redistributed in any form - print, electronic, facsimile, anything - without the permission of LBO.

Masculinity, oil, war, torture

This is an edited version of an interview with Cynthia Enloe that ran on Doug Henwood’s radio show on May 20, 2004 (original here). Enloe teaches political science at Clark University, and has written widely on militarism, power, and the lives of women. Among her books are Maneuvers and Bananas, Beaches, and Bases.

With some important exceptions, the Bush administration looks very macho—Bush’s Texas swagger, Rummy’s tough wrestler act, Cheney’s cruel sneer. Is this an important part of their politics?
It’s an important part of virtually all American presidential politics. They don’t have a corner on the market, but it’s quite particular in the Bush administration. My sense is that they compare themselves in their manliness not with just the Clinton Administration, but also with what they imagine was not the “sufficient manliness” of George Bush Sr. There are varieties of masculinities within the Bush administration and they are set up in contest with each other. Rumsfeld’s constructs of masculinity, which come pretty close to Cheney’s, don’t seem to me as the same as George W. Bush’s. They may be complimentary and they may be useful to each other but I don’t think they’re the same.