Graduate Program

Communication Studies with Community College Pedagogy Option

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Marita Gronnvoll


Explores representations in American news media of women who have been involved sexually with male politicians and women who are politicians through a critical rhetorical lens. Through the use of poststructural feminism, the term "mistress" is problematized. Attention is given to the news media's focus on women's bodies as sites of dangerous sexual temptations as well as the media's constant attention to women's physical features, which reduces women to objects. It is shown that similar coverage regarding bodies is not given to men. Also discusses the news media's frequent interrogation of women's minds. Explores aspects of confession and apology through a Foucauldian lens and also investigate why the news media covers sexual affairs continuously and in great detail despite America's often prudish attitude towards sex through the same lens. Also examines the infrequency with which women politicians are involved in sexual affairs or scandals, particularly when compared with men. Describes various ways that women who become successful in the male-dominated field of American politics are often unsexed by their success and scrutinized in ways that men are not, only because of their gender. Offers solutions to the continued belittling of women and reification of gender stereotypes in American news media.