Gender versus Politics: When Conceptual Models Collide in the US Senate

Kathleen Ahrens*, Sophia Yat Mei Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


One of the main purposes of political speeches is to persuade others of one’s opinion. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the floor of a democratically elected legislative body, where legislators gain floor time to convince others of the validity of their points of view. One method political leaders employ to this end, either consciously or unconsciously, involves incorporating appropriate conceptual metaphors into their speeches. Recent work has focused on the analysis of metaphors used by presidents and prime ministers (Charteris-Black 2004, 2005, 2007, Chilton and Ilyin 1993, Lu and Ahrens 2008, Semino and Masci 1996). However, less attention has been spent on political leaders at the next level of statesmanship: the senators, cabinet ministers and members of parliament, an area which several chapters in this volume now address (Chs 5, 7–9 and 12). In this chapter, we examine the use of lexemes associated with two conceptual metaphor models in US senatorial speech from 2000 to early 2007 in order to determine if gender, political party affiliation, or a combination of both gender and party in the US Senate influences the conceptual models invoked by the senators. We find that as a group, senators do not invoke a particular conceptual model on the basis of gender. Instead, the conceptual model most often invoked across all groups is the model that Lakoff (1996/2002) postulates to be associated with the Democratic political party.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitics, Gender and Conceptual Metaphors
EditorsKathleen Ahrens
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780230245235
ISBN (Print)9780230203457, 9781349301270
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2009

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Conceptual Model
  • Political Party
  • World View
  • Word Form
  • Source Domain


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