According to Gendered Politics and Presidential Image Construction: A Reassessment of the ‘Feminine Style’ by Parry-Giles, “feminine” style is more personal, excessive or ornamental, inductive, and disorganized or organized in a non-linear way. It includes more anecdotes, examples, and appeals to identity. “Masculine” style is more factual, analytic, organized or chronological, and impersonal.
In the class activity, when asked to assign the traits of feminine and masculine styles to the presidential candidate who best exemplified them, the class overwhelmingly assigned “masculine” traits to Hillary Clinton and “feminine” traits to Donald Trump. While Clinton was praised during her campaign for her organized, level-headed, and statistics-filled speeches, those traits would be considered to be more “masculine” in style by Parry-Giles and therefore less effective.
The impersonal nature of these “masculine” traits does little to rally passionate supporters and creates a less charismatic presidential image. The “feminine” traits which students assigned to Clinton were the inclusion of anecdotes, examples, and appeals to identity, particularly appeals to minority and/or oppressed identities. During the presidential debates, Clinton demonstrated aspects of both styles, frequently citing both statistics and examples, but it was clear that her delivery of more traditionally feminine rhetoric did not come naturally to her. Her jokes were slightly stilted or too obviously rehearsed, while she rattled off numbers and factual details easily.
Meanwhile, Trump has been very comfortable with disorganized speech, and has freely claimed to love all sorts of groups of people (“I love Hispanics!” was particularly memorable). His usage of feminine style may explain his populist appeal. While many people throughout the campaign complained that Clinton was too impersonal, no matter how many ordinary citizens she spent time with, Donald Trump has managed to seem like he’s interacting with his supporters on a very personal level despite revealing very little personal information, like tax records or childhood anecdotes, and despite flying back to his multi-million-dollar residence every night. He pulled off such a feat by creating a reputation as a man who unleashes his unfiltered thoughts, always loud, disorganized, and lacking exact reasoned figures.
The success of Trump can be largely attributed to the style he employed to inspire voters, and perhaps the failure of Clinton to sweep the election can also be considered a consequence of style.