UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Gender as a tool of the right : women and the Tea Party movement Tolleson, Shannon Elizabeth


With the rise of the Tea Party movement, conservative women are yet again in the spotlight in America. Prominent, influential, and strong-willed women have become the public face of the Tea Party nationwide, and a substantial portion of the movement’s grassroots support is among women. This thesis argues that female Tea Party elites have constructed a gendered narrative in order to mobilize their socially conservative women into supporting their primarily economic movement by infusing the otherwise autonomous and atomized individual at the center of their economic conservatism with the gendered identities of “family,” “mother,” and “woman,” effectively narrowing the gap between social and economic conservatism. The results of logit regression analyses using survey data offer limited support for the effectiveness of this strategy in increasing grassroots support. Differences in men’s and women’s support for the Tea Party based on family concerns and gender awareness do not emerge; but among those who have children, women – and especially socially conservative women – are more likely to support the Tea Party than their male counterparts. Ultimately, I suggest that the higher level of involvement of socially conservative women in an economically conservative movement raises the possibility of a broader and more inclusive women’s agenda in the U.S.

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