Spinning, Spooning and the Seductions of Flirtatious Masculinity in Contemporary Politics
Authors: Yates, C.
This paper explores the relationships between masculinity, flirtation and fantasy within the promotional arena of politics and PR. Flirtation is associated with coquetry and play, connoting a lack of seriousness, and in political flirtation, the desire to move between different opinions and ideas. Flirtation is often linked with femininity. Yet against a backdrop of masculinity in crisis, the study of flirtation, with its connotations of ambiguity and frustrated desire, is useful to explore the uncertainties of masculinities today. Dilemmas about flirtation as a tantalising performance resonate with misgivings about the seductive nature of political spin and the desire of politicians to woo audiences by flirting to the camera. Taking examples of politicians such as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Barack Obama, this paper discusses the possibilities of flirtatious masculinity as a counter-hegemonic strategy within the symbolic battleground of Western politics, a struggle largely played out in print and digital media.