Maternal Dissent in Mainstream News: "Peace Mom" Confronts the Nation's Strict Father

Murphy, Mollie K.
February 2020
Women's Studies in Communication;Feb2020, Vol. 43 Issue 1, p23
Academic Journal
Scholarly assessment holds that maternal appeals are most progressive when rhetors embed them in a liberal ideological context. This article complicates that claim by considering how mainstream news media's framing of maternal appeals can impact their liberatory potential. Taking Cindy Sheehan's 2005 anti-war protest as its focus, this article considers the ideological context invoked by Sheehan in contrast to the ways in which mainstream news media contextualized her rhetoric. By reducing the controversy to an individual dispute between Sheehan and George W. Bush, coverage overshadowed Sheehan's ideological critique of warfare as well as the public's growing discontent with the situation in Iraq. This article shows how maternal appeals to nurturance may be stifled in mainstream news. Further, it shows how Sheehan's rhetorical choices enabled the coverage that minimized her message and recommends that activists convey maternity through tropes that emphasize context.


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