Friday, January 4, 2008

(feminist) rhetorical questions for us voters

Jim Aune at The Blogora thinks it's all rhetoric. Barack Obama has a "winning formula" while Hillary Clinton "can't give a decent speech." So Aune gets us re-reading Karlyn Kohrs Campbell's essay "The Discursive Performance of Femininity: Hating Hillary" in the first issue of Rhetoric & Public Affairs (1998): 1-20.

Campbell says there:
"Hillary Rodham Clinton's style of public advocacy typically omits all of the discursive markers by which women publicly enact their femininity. Her tone is usually impersonal . . . her ideas unfold deductively . . . all kinds of evidence is used. . . . she is impassioned but very rarely emotional. . . . [She is unable to] feminize her rhetorical style, to perform a culturally defined feminine role publicly. . . . [while her audiences have a] failure to appreciate [her true power to persuade]. . . . If we reject all those who lack the feminizing skills of an Elizabeth Hanford Dole, we shall deprive ourselves of a vast array of talent" (pages 1, 6, 15).

In Iowa yesterday, did Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards have Ms. Dole's "feminizing skills"?

Do only women such as Ms. Clinton and Ms. Dole have to "publicly enact femininity" to be persuasive?

Or have frontrunners Mr. Obama and Mr. Huckabee exhibited "discourse markers" and exuded a "tone" that are more "personal," if they also use (in a more manly way) all kinds of evidence and are also more (masculinely and, therefore, more) logically deductive?

Is John F. Hobbins fair in comparing a rhetorically savvy "mother in Israel" with Mr. Obama and Mr. Huckabee?

Can Hugo Schwyzer be so sure of himself when implying (1) that Mr. Obama and Mr. Huckabee contrast greatly with really "handsome, articulate men [such as Mr. Romney and Mr. Edwards] who [therefore more] struggle with slickness"? And (2) that "a debate between Obama and Mike Huckabee would be a thing to behold; [because they are more like women -- less handsome, and less articulate, rather like] two consummate 'outsiders', two men running on two differing visions of hope, two men who have an extraordinary ability to connect with a wide variety of people"?

What does feministing rhetoric really sound like for (or against) Ms. Clinton, Mr. Obama, Mr. Huckabee, and other candidates?

(and here's another in quick update) Can you answer Virginia Rutter's questions: "Who votes their gender?" and "What does this mean?"

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