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social sciences

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Maddow, Rachel (b. 1973)  
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Maddow moved in with Mikula eighteen months later. In an interview with Rebecca Traister in The Nation, Maddow labeled her relationship with Mikula as her "proudest accomplishment." The women now divide their time between a Manhattan apartment and an 1865 house in the country near Northampton, Massachusetts.

Another job Maddow providentially stumbled into was as a news reader and wacky sidekick on a local FM radio station. As she told Rory O'Connor, although the position was not exactly what she had had in mind for a career--occasionally she was required to appear at a Ford dealership wearing an inflatable calculator costume--as soon as she spoke into the microphone at the open-air audition, she knew "this is what I'm supposed to be doing."

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After this unlikely beginning in the broadcasting field, Maddow began a rapid ascent that has culminated in the MSNBC show.

After the wacky-sidekick stint, she lobbied her way into the debut of Air America Radio, a liberal talk-radio station where she still has her own program, also called The Rachel Maddow Show.

There, she can do what she prefers, which is to report the important news of the day and to engage guests in politically-oriented, rigorous discussions of significant developments in policy or in the lives of the leaders who execute it.

Maddow's own expertise extends far beyond her academic background in prison AIDS work. A self-styled "national security liberal," she embodies the paradox that term suggests, possessing deep knowledge in such areas as the Constitution, counterterrorism, military policy, and the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America).

She is a liberal in the purest sense of the word, not advancing anyone's agenda and coming down equally hard on all candidates as she demonstrates over and over again--firmly but good-naturedly--that we should always remember to listen to the voice of reason.

Air America chairman Charles Kireker worries that he is about to lose Maddow, but she apparently relishes the challenge of doing both television and radio simultaneously. "If O'Reilly, Hannity, and Beck can do that, so can I," she declared in an e-mail to Traister.

Traister's article goes on to confirm Maddow's "post-gay" label. The reporter observes that "the blogosphere is dotted with posts like 'I'm totally gay for Rachel Maddow,'" a meme that "appears to transcend gender and sexuality. Women, men, straight and not straight: they're all gay for her."

For the inaugural Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, the new host did not disappoint her post-gay fans. Staying true to her trademark , Maddow sported a men's-style pinstripe suit with only a hint of a more feminine maroon sweater peeking out, and wore normal television make-up but no lipstick or jewelry.

Moreover, one segment of the show, which featured her customary opponent Buchanan, was titled "IT'S PAT," words that were printed across the screen in huge block letters, a laugh-out-loud allusion to the classic Saturday Night Live androgyne, played by Julia Sweeney but eternally undistinguishable as male or female.

In yet another tribute to the Maddow phenomenon, Time magazine's Richard Corliss published an article on her show's opening day (September 8, 2008) that merely mentioned in passing that she was an "utterly uncloseted lesbian," while spending the better part of three pages extolling her warmth and good humor.

The hope, Corliss concluded, is clearly that Maddow will, with her "chipper intimacy" and "essential decency," offer a "beguiling option for cable-TV news talk: that nice is the new nasty."

Sara Anderson

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social sciences >> Overview:  AIDS Activism

In the United States, glbtq people have played an integral and often leading role in AIDS activism, greatly influencing AIDS treatment and advocacy.

arts >> Overview:  American Television, News

Although glbtq people and issues have been inadequately covered by American television news, there have recently been signs of improvement.

arts >> Overview:  American Television, Talk Shows

For glbt people, television talk shows have been both promising and problematic; they have brought glbt issues to public awareness, but until recently they have also presented glbt people as stereotypes and freaks.

social sciences >> Overview:  Androgyny

Androgyny, a psychological blending of gender traits, has long been embraced by strong women, soft men, members of queer communities, and others who do not easily fit into traditionally defined gender categories.

social sciences >> Overview:  Identity Politics

Not limited to activity in the traditionally conceived political sphere, identity politics refers to activism, politics, theorizing, and other similar activities based on the shared experiences of members of a specific social group, often relying on shared experiences of oppression.

social sciences >> Overview:  Political Science

Political scientists have generated insights important to the study of sexuality through research into glbtq participation in formal politics, studies of sexuality as a category of power, and reconceptualizations of the relationship between sexuality and politics.

arts >> Overview:  Radio

A product of the gay liberation movement spawned by the Stonewall rebellion, queer radio programming remains a significant source of entertainment and information for glbtq communities.

social sciences >> Democratic Party (United States)

The American glbtq movement for equality has largely allied itself with the Democratic Party.

social sciences >> Overview:  Northampton

Although Northampton, Massachusetts is a small city, it has become a center of queerness, especially of lesbian activism.

social sciences >> Signorile, Michelangelo

Michelangelo Signorile is a prolific, and often provocative, writer and activist whose books and articles, radio show, newspaper columns, and website champion the cause of glbtq rights.

social sciences >> Sullivan, Andrew

Social and political commentator Andrew Sullivan has established himself as an influential participant in Anglo-American political discourse.

social sciences >> Vaid, Urvashi

Activist Urvashi Vaid has devoted her energies to trying to create a queer liberation movement that would have as its core the liberation of all people.


Corliss, Richard. "Rachel Maddow: MSNBC's New Voice." Time (September 8, 2008):,8599,1838192,00.html

Kurtz, Howard. "Rachel Maddow, MSNBC's Newest Left Hand." Washington Post (August 27, 2008): 2008/08/27/ST2008082703302.html

O'Connor, Rory. "Rachel Maddow: Progressive Media's Next Mainstream Star." AlterNet (April 10, 2008):

Olson, Alix. "Rachel Maddow: Straight Talk." Velvet Park Magazine (Summer 2005):

Steinberg, Jacques. "Now in Living Rooms, the Host Apparent." New York Times (July 17, 2008):

Traister, Rebecca. "Mad for Rachel Maddow." The Nation (August 18, 2008):


    Citation Information
    Author: Anderson, Sara  
    Entry Title: Maddow, Rachel  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated September 22, 2008  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  


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