The Last Time A Woman Debated for VP

The last and only time a man and woman faced each other in a vice-presidential debate was 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro was the Democratic candidate and George H. W. Bush the Republican. Earlier this year while I was working on a study of media coverage of female politicians in New Jersey, I came across an interesting paper on that 1984 debate.

The author, Patricia Sullivan, found that Bush repeatedly used sports metaphors throughout the debate, framing the discourse in masculine terms that suggested Ferraro was out of place – a frame that carried over into many of the news reports on the event. “Ferraro seemed like an intruder on the debate stage,” Sullivan wrote.

If you’re interested in reading more, her paper, The 1984 Vice-Presidential Debate: A Case Study of Female and Male Framing in Political Campaigns, was in the Communication Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 4, Fall 1989, pages 329-343.

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