Works Cited

Aristotle. “Rhetoric.” The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present, 2nd edition, edited by Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg, Bedford/St. Martins, 2001, 179-240. 

Bluiett, Tarsha E. “The Language of Play and Gender-Role Stereotypes.” Education, vol. 139, no. 1, Fall 2018, pp. 38–42. 

Government, Transcript courtesy of Bloomberg. “Kavanaugh Hearing: Transcript.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 27 Sept. 2018, 

Heilman, Madeline E., and Julie J. Chen. “Same Behavior, Different Consequences: Reactions to Men’s and Women’s Altruistic Citizenship Behavior.” Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 90, no. 3, May 2005, pp. 431–441

Roeder, Tara. “You Have to Confess’: Rape and the Politics of Storytelling.” Journal of Feminist Scholarship, Iss 9, Pp 18-29 (2015), no. 9, 2015, 18. 

Sklar, Katheryn Kish. Women’s Rights Emerges within the Antislavery Movement, 1830-1870: a Brief History with Documents, by Kathryn Kish. Sklar, Bedford/St Martin’s, 2000.

Tannen, Deborah. You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. New York: Ballantine, 1991. Print

Wilz, K. “Bernie Bros and Woman Cards: Rhetorics of Sexism, Misogyny, and Constructed Masculinity in the 2016 Election.” Women’s Studies in Communication, vol. 39, no. 4, 357–360. 

Revision Log

  • Added dropdown menu
  • Captioned photos
  • Added bibliography with links
  • Expanded on #MeToo
  • Brought in historical evidence
  • Incorporated more links
  • Added video
  • Added more relevant images
  • Offered an explanation of the importance of rhetoric

Final Thoughts

When the semester started, I was off to a very rocky start. Not only did the semester move by with ease and fluidity, but the content made the class very worth staying in. I took rhetorical theory the semester before taking this course, which helped me a lot in terms of the roots of my rhetoric and my prior knowledge, but I feel like even if I had never heard the term”rhetoric” before, I would be fine and still would have learned.

I really liked the freedom in this class. Yes, we had specific assignments and deadlines, but for the most part we as students drove the course. I think that the content and gave us all a chance to open up about things we are passionate about and grow closer that the average class.

My favorite learning aspect of this course was studying how the women’s rights movement kind of uprooted the abolitionist movement. My favorite experience was visiting the Civil Rights museum—that was definitely an experience that I will never forget and I am so grateful that we got to go. Not that I am done making it, I also really appreciate my website and am glad that I have one for future personal use.

The workload this semester was a lot, however, I do think that being able to balance it all and push myself to get that much done helped me grow as a student. While the work was plentiful, it was simple and easy fo the most part. Simple, easy, and engaging—the assignments forced su to engage with the content that we were studying on a deeper level. The required texts were also reasonable and there were none that I deemed as a waste of money. I really appreciate that all of them were used and held valuable information.

To wrap it up, a few things I’ve learned are that movements do not happen overnight, rhetoric has a place in all public affairs, change is gradual and step by step, and humans aren’t all bad.

Ford vs Kavanaugh—A Case Study

Image result for kavanaugh yelling
Kavanaugh during his hearing

In July 2018, President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy in the highest judicial system in the country—the US Supreme Court. Following Kavanaugh’s nomination, Stanford Professor Dr. Christine Ford wrote a confidential letter to Senator Feinstein claiming that Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted her at a party in 1982. In September of 2018, after the White House confirmed that Kavanaugh’s nomination would not be pulled based on the letter, Dr. Ford allowed her name to be released publicly in attribution to the allegations. Days later, Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh both testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. By examining these testimonies through a rhetorical lens, an example of gender driven rhetorical margins are unveiled, further evidencing the fact that women are held to strict emotional and expressional guidelines that attempt to control their rhetoric. To view the highlights of Kavanaugh’s testimony, click here.

The opening statements of both Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh delivered before the Senate hearings were drastically different. When working from the idea that “persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible” (182), it is important to place the speaker’s intentions within this idea—both Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh are tuning into ethos, doing whatever they think will persuade the audience to be open to their argument without any bias. An opening statement is a perfect opportunity for a speaker to immediately try to appease the audience and establish a sense of credibility.

Dr. Ford’s opening statement:

Image result for dr ford

“Thank you, Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein, members of the committee. My name is Christine Blasey Ford. I am a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine. I won’t detail my educational background since it has already been summarized. I have been married to Russell Ford since 2002 and we have two children.” Ford. Senate Hearing. 27 September 2018

Dr. Ford’s statement was delivered in a calm tone and led with her name, profession, and her role as a wife and mother. This gentle and humble approach was likely calculated by Dr. Ford as the best way she saw fit to proceed.

Kavanaugh’s opening statement began without any introduction or expression of gratitude. In a stern and booming voice, he immediately began to address the allegations against him without any prior mention of himself and who he is as a person:

“Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Members of the Committee: Eleven days ago, Dr. Ford publicly accused me of committing a serious wrong more than 36 years ago when we were both in high school. I denied the allegation immediately, unequivocally, and categorically. The next day, I told this Committee that I wanted to testify as soon as possible, under oath, to clear my name.” Kavanaugh. Senate Hearing, 27 September 2018

The differences here between these introductions can be used to identify the different rhetorical moves used by each individual in relation to preserving and building up their credibility. Dr. Ford is choosing rhetorical moves that play into societal expectations that determine how women should proceed in emotional expression.  A central component to most female gender stereotypes is that women are, by nature, more altruistic than men. This label of selflessness often characterizes women as helpers, which deems them as “nurturing and socially oriented (communal) rather than competitive and achievement oriented” (Heilman and Chen, 1). Behaviors assigned to and then expected of women prioritize sustenance, sacrifice, and humility. These expected behaviors “provide not only a blueprint for action for women themselves but also create expectations on the part of others about how women are likely to behave” (Heilman and Chen, 1). Now examining Dr. Ford’s opening statement in light of this stereotype, it becomes clear why she chose to proceed in such a reserved, humble, and composed manner—that is what will earn her points of credibility from the audience. Following in Aristotle’s advice, Dr. Ford is crafting her rhetoric so that her argument—tone, wording, and delivery—will sit well enough with the audience so her argument is representative enough of her character.

The ending statements that concluded both Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh’s opening statements are worth comparing in light of the previously stated notions that women are perceived differently when threatening a man’s power. Much like the introductions to these statements, the comments made nearing the ends of the statements are quite different from one another. Dr. Ford begins to close her statement by withdrawing herself from the process of legitimizing the allegations and separating herself from legal process from there on out:

“My motivation in coming forward was to be helpful and to provide facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you could take into a serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed.

It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell you the truth.” Ford. Senate Hearing. 27 September 2018.

Exciting emotion within an audience is an essential part of rhetoric, and it is done very differently by women in comparison to men. . The topic of meeting the needs of an audience by evaluating and estimating their internalized gender biases, which is what Dr. Ford does and what Kavanaugh sees no need to do.

When examining at the questioning that took place during this hearing, both the tone and composure that Dr. Ford held throughout her opening statement remain the same. With each question, she remains emotionally composed. She neither raises her voice, nor does she allow herself to cry. However, though Dr. Ford does not directly display emotions that she may be feeling or attempting to incite in the audience, she is practicing emotional reservation for the sake of her rhetoric. Because women have to operate within such thin margins when it comes to emotional expression, Dr. Ford is simultaneously upholding her own credibility and carefully avoiding inciting the wrong emotions in her audience.

During his questioning however, Kavanaugh’s responses were filled with not only emotional outbursts of aggression anger, but with several occasions in which he interrupted or cut-off Senators, particularly Senator Feinstein. Senator Feinstein calmly questioned Kavanaugh about his reluctance in welcoming an investigation from the FBI, to which he responded in an aggressive and raised tone of voice answers that did not sufficiently answer the question. The main difference between the actions displayed by Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh is that Dr. Fords were seemingly calculated, while Kavanaugh showed no interest in holding back how he wished to express himself. Because Kavanaugh is a man, he sought out no emotional reservation knowing that his actions were not held to a strict standard. 



Rhetoric’s Role

This stuff might sound like it’s the boring part, but it isn’t—this is the foundation for this entire research experience. So, what is rhetoric? My definition is that it’s the practice of speaking and writing with the intent to persuade or educate an audience. Basically, everything that goes into presenting information or sharing stories with the hopes of impacting someone else. The focal point here is that the rhetoric of women is limited by societal expectations that dictate how women should behave rhetorically, especially when it comes to verbal rhetoric. When I first started working with rhetorical theory, I had no idea what rhetoric even was. So, to really be able to engage with the presented content, it’s important to familiarize yourself a bit with rhetoric in a historical context.

Image result for aristotle
Aristotle

Aristotle’s textRhetoric argues the importance of ethos and pathos in relation to the speaker. I the texts, the role of the speaker is thoroughly explored to offer insight into the fundamental aspects of rhetorical delivery, and the responsibilities that a speaker has to their audience. For the purpose of analyzing the Ford and Kavanaugh testimonies later in the blog, this historical text will allow for a closer look into how and why women within the political sphere operate differently in comparison to men. Rhetoric will largely offer an explanation of the different facets of speaker credibility in relation to female figures.

Of Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion, Ethos “depends on the personal character of the speaker” (Aristotle, 181), or in other words, their credibility. In Rhetoric, Aristotle separates ethos into three sub parts: “good sense, good moral character, and goodwill” (231). The concept behind Ethos that renders it so essential to rhetoric is that humans are more inclined to believe individuals that they deem to be honest, morally sound, and overall “good” people; a speaker’s personal character is essentially at the forefront of their every argument. With that being said, it is important to note that Aristotle did not place this credibility in the hands of an individual’s reputation: “persuasion should be achieved by what the speaker says, not by what people think of this character before he begins to speak” (Aristotle, 182).

Movements That Require A Woman’s Voice

So here we are in the twenty first century where women are directing films, reciting poems, headlining music tours, running for Senate, Governor, and President and yet the talk about sexism and oppression still hasn’t let up. Things are a lot better today than they were back when Sojourner Truth and the Grimké sisters were talking some sense into America, but they’re still not perfect.

You’ve probably heard of the #MeToo movement within the last few months and if not, do you live under a rock? #MeToo is a viral hashtag that gained a lot of internet traction when prompted by a tweet from Alyssa Milano, an American actress:

Image result for me too original tweet
Screenshot of the tweet that skyrocketed #MeToo

Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of women not only replied to the original tweet, but also started using the hashtag as a marker in their own posts. Some shared stories, some only the hashtag. Some women just scrolled through the posts and felt like they weren’t alone for the first time. Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the origin of #MeToo.

Related image
Tarana Burke, founder of Me Too

Tarana Burke created the Me Too campaign in 2007 with it’s purpose being to provide help to those who had experienced sexual violence, particularly women of color. Read all about the origins of the movement here.

It’s kind of funny how things come full circle like this. Though it’s unfortunate that Burke’s campaign failed to receive any support in it’s early days, we can be grateful that this community of survivors and supporters has come together and taken hold of the silence and the stigma that surrounds the topic of sexual violence. She is stuarding this movement better than anyone else could I believe.

How Does This Relate?

I wanted to talk about this specific movement because it’s one that, for the most part, is entirely driven by the voices and stories of women. It is an entirely different conversation to get into the nature of how poorly survivors are treated by the justice system, but I wanted to talk about why this movement is so deeply influenced by rhetoric. It pretty much is rhetoric. The outspoken nature of #MeToo is headlined by sharing—whether it be intimate details or just a simple hashtag, the things that survivors choose to share is what creates this movement.

What happens when sexist jokes are told about how women shouldn’t run for president because they’d start wars during their period? Women are deemed hysterical, dramatic, and unstable. What happens when female athletes are accused of “pitching a fit” when they confront faulty ref calls? Women are, again, deemed hysterical, dramatic, and unstable. These two examples are just to set the context of the conversation here: society is hyper-critical of female emotions. This matters especially in the cases of #MeToo when women are speaking about deeply traumatic, personal and emotional situations that they have been in. What happens if our society decides that women are a little crazy and dramatic regardless of what they so? Do their survival stories still hold any validity?

Female emotions have been demonized by society in attempt to control the narrative of how women are to contribute to society—quietly and submissively. Gender roles are no joke! They drive the narrative for what a women should be:

Related image
Diagram of standard gender roles widely held around the world.

If women are given a role to fill, it means they are held back in nearly all areas of their individuality. These roles create restrictive emotional margins in which women are expected to comply, so how are they to conduct themselves when they share stories of sexual violence? What about if they take their abuser/rapist to court? How much crying will be appropriate to evoke an emotional response from the jury, and how much will make them seem hysterical and unreliable? Our rhetoric today as women has to be calculated, and observing this issue in light of such a serious topic brings in to view just how ridiculous these emotional expectations are.

Further on in this tab, the Ford and Kavanaugh hearings are examined through a rhetorical lens and used as a case study to further evidence the information presented on this page.

What’s The Issue? It’s In The History.

During the first wave of the Women’s Rights Movement, a woman was not allowed to speak publically to an audience that included men: “Because public speaking was central to the construction of contemporary civil society, prohibition against respectable women’s public speaking was a key ingredient in the practices that denied respectable women access to and equality within the new contours of public life” (Sklar, 23). The only exceptions to this rule were female preachers in which it was understood that in this context, her words did not belong to her. The roots of limiting the voices of women rest in a simple idea—freedom and rhetoric are powerful, and a woman with power threatens the American Dream gender roles.

So What Changed?

Image result for grimke sisters
Portraits of the Grimké sisters. Angelina left, Sarah right.

A lot of really incredible women stood up against the status quo by pushing themselves to the forefront of a new, rebellious women’s movement. The Grimké sisters, Angelina and Sarah, were among the first. These women shattered the prohibitions placed on women speaking in public, which in turn prompted criticism questioning their rights to do so. The Grimké sisters were then able to interact with these criticisms in order to defend themselves and create productive and insightful discourse surrounding the questions of female voices.

“Ain’t I A Woman” performed Pat Theriault

Sojourner Truth is another pioneer that I feel compelled to mention. Not only did she do incredible abolition work, but she also dedicated herself to speaking out on behalf of the women’s movement. You may have heard of her before in relation to a speech she delivered in Akron, Ohio titled “Ain’t I A Woman.” That’s what she did—she traveled around delivering speeches and lectures, sharing her story as a former slave and her realities as a black woman in America. You should read her speech. Better yet, you should take the time to watch the dramatization I’ve embedded for your convenience! Grab tissues.

Why Should I Know This?

It’s important to know about the limitations that were placed on women so that issues regarding rhetorical and emotional restriction today are taken seriously. Seeing the roots of sexism helps a lot of people understand that we’re not just making this stuff up—it’s the result of the American ideals that our country was founded on, and it’s still being unpacked, dismantled, and unlearned today. I felt it important to include a few of important women who helped push back because why not? They helped give me my voice. I want them to be remembered always.

Abstract

During the first wave of the Women’s Rights Movement, a woman was not allowed to speak publically to an audience that included men unless she were delivering a divine sermon from God in which it was understood that her words did not belong to her. Throughout history itself, women have been placed in countless boxes. These boxes are bound up with expectations that tell us how to speak, dress, contribute to society, and so on. Expectations like these are set in place in society to attempt to control women and while we have come so far today, the roots of sexism that set these expectations in place are still relevant. One of the most popular forms of oppression is how women are held to strict marginal guidelines of how they are to operate in their speech and to what degree they are allowed to use their emotions. The very language commonly used among men and among women varries drastically. This, in turn, creates disproportionate gender-based dynamics that oppress women specifically in rhetorical discourse within the political sphere. Amid the spark of the #MeToo movement, the hearings that took place between Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh evidence this claim as a case study.

Capstone Project

During the first wave of the Women’s Rights Movement, a woman was not allowed to speak publically to an audience that included men unless she were delivering a divine sermon from God in which it was understood that her words did not belong to her. Throughout history itself, women have been placed in cuntless boxes. These boxes are bound up with expectations that tell us how to speak, dress, contribute to society, and so on. Expectations like these are set in place in society to attempt to control women and while we have come so far today, the roots of sexism that set these expectations in place are still relevant.

One of the most popular forms of oppression is how women are held to strict marginal guidelines of how they are to operate in their speech and to what degree they are allowed to use their emotions. This, in turn, creates disproportionate gender-based dynamics that oppress women specifically in rhetorical discourse within the political sphere. Amid the spark of the #MeToo movement, the hearings that took place between Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh evidence this claim as a case study.

Image result for kavanaugh yelling
Kavanaugh during his hearing

In July 2018, President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to fill the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy in the highest judicial system in the country—the US Supreme Court. Following Kavanaugh’s nomination, Stanford Professor Dr. Christine Ford wrote a confidential letter to Senator Feinstein claiming that Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted her at a party in 1982. In September of 2018, after the White House confirmed that Kavanaugh’s nomination would not be pulled based on the letter, Dr. Ford allowed her name to be released publicly in attribution to the allegations. Days later, Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh both testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. By examining these testimonies through a rhetorical lens, an example of gender driven rhetorical margins are unveiled, further evidencing the fact that women are held to strict emotional and expressional guidelines that attempt to control their rhetoric. To view the highlights of Kavanaugh’s testimony, click here.

Image result for aristotle

Aristotle’s Rhetoric argues the importance of ethos and pathos in relation to the speaker. I the texts, the role of the speaker is thoroughly explored to offer insight into the fundamental aspects of rhetorical delivery, and the responsibilities that a speaker has to their audience. For the purpose of analyzing the Ford and Kavanaugh testimonies, this historical text will allow for a closer look into how and why women within the political sphere operate differently in comparison to men. Rhetoric will largely offer an explanation of the different facets of speaker credibility in relation to female figures.

Of Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion, Ethos “depends on the personal character of the speaker” (Aristotle, 181), or in other words, their credibility. In Rhetoric, Aristotle separates ethos into three sub parts: “good sense, good moral character, and goodwill” (231). The concept behind Ethos that renders it so essential to rhetoric is that humans are more inclined to believe individuals that they deem to be honest, morally sound, and overall “good” people; a speaker’s personal character is essentially at the forefront of their every argument. With that being said, it is important to note that Aristotle did not place this credibility in the hands of an individual’s reputation: “persuasion should be achieved by what the speaker says, not by what people think of this character before he begins to speak” (Aristotle,182).

Image result for ethos pathos logos chart


In an environment as polarizing as the United States political sphere, the idea of listening to an argument without being influenced by some form of pre-existing prejudice seems impossible. While it is true that everyone in the political sphere, both men and women, remain affected by prejudices, it is doubly true for women. Not only is a woman in this particular context judged based on partisanship, she is also judged on her gender. Moving forward from this point, a woman in the political sphere must not only be conscious of her reputation that precedes her, but also of her credibility that is communicated through her speech. This intersection of credibility and audience perception is where the guidelines placed on female rhetoric begin to surface.

The opening statements of both Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh delivered before the Senate hearings were drastically different not only in content, but also in delivery. When working from the idea that “persuasion is achieved by the speaker’s personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible” (182), it is important to place the speaker’s intentions within this idea—both Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh are tuning into ethos, doing whatever they think will persuade the audience to be open to their argument without any bias. An opening statement is a perfect opportunity for a speaker to immediately try to appease the audience and establish a sense of credibility.

Dr. Ford’s statement began with an initial introduction, stating her name, profession, and role as a mother:

Image result for dr ford
Dr. Ford during her opening statement

“Thank you, Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein, members of the committee. My name is Christine Blasey Ford. I am a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine. I won’t detail my educational background since it has already been summarized. I have been married to Russell Ford since 2002 and we have two children.” Ford. Senate Hearing. 27 September 2018

Dr. Ford delivered these sentiments in a calm, collected tone. It is also worth noting that when addressing Grassley and Feinstein, Dr. Ford began with an expression of gratitude. This gentle and humble approach was likely calculated by Dr. Ford as the best way she saw fit to proceed. In comparison, Kavanaugh’s opening statement began without any introduction or expression of gratitude. In a stern and booming voice, he immediately began to address the allegations against him without any prior mention of himself and who he is as a person:

“Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Members of the Committee: Eleven days ago, Dr. Ford publicly accused me of committing a serious wrong more than 36 years ago when we were both in high school. I denied the allegation immediately, unequivocally, and categorically. The next day, I told this Committee that I wanted to testify as soon as possible, under oath, to clear my name.” Kavanaugh. Senate Hearing, 27 September 2018

The differences between these introductions can be used to identify the different rhetorical moves used by each individual in relation to preserving and building up their credibility. Dr. Ford is choosing rhetorical moves that play into the societal expectations, set by men, that determine how women should proceed in emotional expression.  A central component to most female gender stereotypes is that women are, by nature, more altruistic than men. This label of selflessness often characterizes women as helpers, which deems them as “nurturing and socially oriented (communal) rather than competitive and achievement oriented” (Heilman and Chen, 1). Behaviors assigned to and then expected of women prioritize sustenance, sacrifice, and humility. These expected behaviors “provide not only a blueprint for action for women themselves but also create expectations on the part of others about how women are likely to behave” (Heilman and Chen, 1). Now examining Dr. Ford’s opening statement in light of this stereotype, it becomes clear why she chose to proceed in such a reserved, humble, and composed manner—that is what will earn her points of credibility from the audience. Following in Aristotle’s advice, Dr. Ford is crafting her rhetoric so that her argument—tone, wording, and delivery—will sit well enough with the audience so her argument is representative enough of her character.

Though in this scenario Dr. Ford is not speaking as a politician herself, her allegations do hold the power of prohibiting Kavanaugh from moving forward in his Supreme Court nomination. With that being said, it is reasonable to examine this event in light of the fact that another man’s power is being threatened, and “whenever women seek any space traditionally held by a man—and especially the office of the commander in chief—they tend to be pornified, degraded, diminished, and treated differently” (Wilz, 358). In further continuing to analyze this event, it is beneficial to look at previous patterns of insult that women in the political sphere have been the brunt of, specifically Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Despite running a well-fought campaign and becoming the first woman to win the presidential popular vote, Clinton was heavily scrutinized for her appearance, tone of voice, and rhetorical moves. Clinton was often criticized for her lack of femininity, highlighting the choice that female politicians have to make between being tough or  “appropriately feminine” (Wilz, 358). While women in the political sphere have to choose between identifying themselves either as strong and tough or feminine, men are able to identify as both tough and masculine; perhaps because traditional gender roles say that the two coincide with one another.  Applying this idea to Dr. Ford’s rhetoric and then again to Kavanaugh’s rhetoric makes it clear why Kavanaugh was able to not only raise his voice in an intimidating and stern manner, but also why he did not feel the need to open his statement with an expression of gratitude or references to his humanity in attempt to gain a better standing with his audience.

The ending statements that concluded both Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh’s opening statements are worth comparing in light of the previously stated notions that women are perceived differently when threatening a man’s power. Much like the introductions to these statements, the comments made nearing the ends of the statements are quite different from one another. Dr. Ford begins to close her statement by withdrawing herself from the process of legitimizing the allegations and separating herself from legal process from there on out:

“My motivation in coming forward was to be helpful and to provide facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you could take into a serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed.

It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell you the truth.” Ford. Senate Hearing. 27 September 2018.

Exciting emotion within an audience is an essential part of rhetoric, and it is done very differently by women in comparison to men. Given the complex that women face in the political sphere in having to choose between being appropriately feminine or establishing themselves as tough characters, it is also essential to this analysis to point out the double standard in which women are allowed to operate emotionally. Emotional suppression brought upon women by societal expectations of femininity directly influence the rhetoric of a women in political context. The topic of meeting the needs of an audience by evaluating and estimating their internalized gender biases, which is what Dr. Ford does and what Kavanaugh sees no need to do.

Related image

When examining at the questioning that took place during this hearing, both the tone and composure that Dr. Ford held throughout her opening statement remain the same. With each question, she remains emotionally composed. She neither raises her voice, nor does she allow herself to cry. However, though Dr. Ford does not directly display emotions that she may be feeling or attempting to incite in the audience, she is practicing emotional reservation for the sake of her rhetoric. Because women have to operate within such thin margins when it comes to emotional expression, Dr. Ford is simultaneously upholding her own credibility and carefully avoiding inciting the wrong emotions in her audience.

During his questioning however, Kavanaugh’s responses were filled with not only emotional outbursts of aggression anger, but with several occasions in which he interrupted or cut-off Senators, particularly Senator Feinstein. Senator Feinstein calmly questioned Kavanaugh about his reluctance in welcoming an investigation from the FBI, to which he responded in an aggressive and raised tone of voice answers that did not sufficiently answer the question. The main difference between the actions displayed by Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh is that Dr. Fords were seemingly calculated, while Kavanaugh showed no interest in holding back how he wished to express himself. Because Kavanaugh is a man, he sought out no emotional reservation knowing that his actions were not held to a strict standard.





Supplemental Activity 2

The Rose Library entrance wall

This past weekend, I attended “Twelfth Night Revel” at Emory University. The event was set in place to benefit the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.

There were cocktails and student-led poetry readings, a four course meal, lots of socializing, and lots of donations being taken to support the Libraries at Emory.

Image result for richard blanco
Richard Blanco

Historic inaugural poet Richard Blanco read several of his poems, including “One Today” which was written specifically for Obama’s second inauguration. Blanco is the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and openly gay person to serve as an inaugural poet. His readings were so incredible. Every poem came to life as he moved through them with such compelling emotions and personal stories to match.

This experience was beneficially supplemental to me in relation to this class because I feel like an important aspect of understanding U.S. Social Movements and the rhetoric that accompanies them is understanding just how impactful personal identity is. Blanco has had a very different life than me and his experiences lie outside of what is considered normal here in america, especially down in the South where I grew up. Hearing him read poems about unity and the possibilities that are held in the future of America was so impactful given the painful history and movements that we have been studying.

Richard Blanco during his reading

I was actually very privileged to be able to attend this event. My boyfriend works for Emory libraries, so he got me a free ticket. I was lucky to be able to meet Blanco after his reading and have a chat with him—he was so kind and gracious. I told him that I thought that his work was incredible and inspirational to me as a poet, and he replied with something along the lines of, “That is so nice to hear—when you’re successful, people just assume that you know you’re great at what you do. It is nice to hear someone say it.” We laughed and he signed a book for me.

Me, in my very cute and fancy outfit after Twelfth Night

I bought this dress specifically to wear to this fancy event so of course I am including a photo of myself in it.