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Cait Ryan 2/20/2012 Rhetorical Analysis AL 882-001 Rhetorical Analysis of Liz Trottas statements on sexual assault in the military.

(See specifically 1:20 to 3:00) On Sunday, February 12, 2012, Liz Trotta spoke on the Fox News channel regarding the increase in roles for women in the military closer to the front lines of combat. Throughout her commentary, Trotta used a number of strategies to reject the idea that women should hold these roles as well as the idea that women should serve in the military in general. In this clip, Liz Trottas goal is to present one point of view as an undeniable Truth: that there is a natural and indelible connection between allowing men and women to serve together in close proximity (in the military in this case) and an increase in cases of sexual assault against women. Her statements attempt to remove instances of sexual assault from the realm of choice and place them firmly in the realm of nature. Sexual assault is just something that men naturally do. It is a womans job not to put herself or men in a situation where the temptation to sexually assault a woman overrules anything else. It is the womans choice whether she wants to be sexually assaulted, not the mans choice of whether or not he is going to engage in sexual assault. In Ms. Trottas expressed point of view, sexual assault should be avoided, not by discouraging men from making the choice to perpetrate acts of violence against women, but by discouraging women from putting themselves in a situation where it is, of course, going to happen.

The desired audience for this commentary (though likely different from the actual original audience, considering the fact that this was originally aired on Fox News) appears to be those who might think that women should be able to serve in the military, specifically those in Congress and leaders at the Pentagon who are foolish enough to have been led into this divergent viewpoint by the Feminists. Ms. Trotta is attempting to cajole her audience into aligning with her accepted teleology regarding relations between men and women. In her viewpoint, the military is ordained by nature as the realm of men and women, by nature, dont belong there. Men are powerful and it is in their nature to assert that power. Women, who lack the phallus, are weak and it is natural for men to assert power over them when the opportunity is presented. While it is not expressly stated, the implication here is that the best way to avoid instances of sexual assault is for women to stay at home and out of the natural habitats of men. The inerrant truth here is that limiting a womans close contact with men is the only way to limit her chances of being sexually assaulted. In essence, women would not be raped too much if they did not make the choice to flout nature. This current discourse in which Ms. Trotta is a participant is not new; throughout the history of western civilization, the roles of men and women have been debated. One the one hand, the leaders of western civilization (both religious and secular) have asserted that women should be subservient to men. On the other, women have always pushed for their rights whether it was quietly and out of the realm of public discourse or in the public domain. Ms. Trottas comments are intended to reaffirm the ideology of western civilization and show that the issue of womens rights is not one that will be soon resolved.

In a sense, Ms. Trottas comments are representative of colonialism in Western societys success in perpetuating its dominance through the very people it attempts to dominate (e.g., teaching women to accept and perpetuate certain ideas about their natural and God-given place). It has been far more effective to convince women of their intended role in a society and allow them to tear down women who try to question those roles than it is for white European men alone to tear down those women. It is also far more difficult to end the perpetuation of these ideologies when those who are suppressed by the ideology strive to perpetuate it in order to achieve acceptance. Through her condemnation of Feminists, Ms. Trotta is attempting to affirm her own status as a good daughter in western society. By belittling the women who are attempting to deny their natural position, Ms. Trotta is showing herself to be a good daughter who deserves to be praised and accepted by the powers that be. Ms. Trotta attempts to ingratiate herself with those who can name her as a good daughter by addressing her dissident audience from a position of disdain, making such derisive statements as, What did they expect? By presenting the increase in instances of sexual assault as a direct result of the actions of Feminists, Ms. Trotta attempts to transform sexual assault from a crime to an inevitable punishment for these unfaithful daughters. This is intended to both separate Trotta from these unfaithful daughters and to scare other women who might be undecided from falling in with the unfaithful daughters. Attempting to invoke shame in those involved in this farce is a key strategy in Ms. Trottas arguments. By implying that they have not actually looked at the issue in full detail, but have instead allowed themselves to make poor decisions under pressure from the Feminists, Ms. Trotta is attempting to make Congress members feel shame for not

doing their duty. She also attempts to make Congress members, as well as Feminists, feel ashamed for costing American taxpayers millions of dollars to pay for the inevitable results of this foolishness under the guise of increasingly giving women equal opportunities to serve their country. Another strategy used by Ms. Trotta can be found in her attempts to sway those who might be led astray by this farce by invoking fear and/or revulsion. This can be seen in her attempts to create a direct correlation between women serving in the military and violent sexual assault. This can also be seen in her attempts to distinguish Feminists as an Other. They are not real women; they are barbarians who attempt to subvert the natural, and therefore beneficial, order for their own dangerous and self-defeating ends. Again, Ms. Trotta is attempting to teach women that any sexual assault that takes place as a result of this subversion is inevitable. The only way for women to avoid this result is to do the right thing and uphold the natural order. If they dont, then they are not good daughters and they deserve what they get. Because the Feminists goals are dangerous and self-defeating (i.e., they result in sexual assault and unjustifiable costs for good citizens), they must be reviled. An additional strategy is to make the entire system seem like a circus where Congressmen make fools of themselves and there are sexual counselors all over the place spending money willy-nilly. The goal here is to continue the dehumanization of the Feminists by making them appear to be cold, calculating puppet-masters who are derailing our society as we know it. Women are taught that they are, by nature, warm and nurturing. If these Feminists are cold and calculating, they fly in the face of what it means to be a woman and are therefore unnatural beings.

Throughout her statements, Ms. Trotta clearly ignores the potential for validity in any and all viewpoints that contradict her own. Because the statements she makes are grounded in Truth, Ms. Trotta can make her viewpoints unassailable by any opinions to the contrary. Because she is an accepted good daughter who can claim ownership of the Truth, Ms. Trotta is able to dismiss any detractors as ignorant. If her statements are unquestionably true, there is no reason to consider another viewpoint. Those who think otherwise are, at best, misinformed and foolish like those in the Pentagon. At the worst, they are evil deceivers attempting to lead people astray by hiding what is True like the Feminists. Speaking from a position of Truth also allows Ms. Trotta to ignore anything that goes against the Truth she represents is even true for contradictions in her own statements. For example, Ms. Trotta is a woman who is also a college graduate and a world-traveling journalist. According to her credentials, she was a college journalism professor and shes covered important assignment such as the 1984 election and the Vietnam War, make her the first woman to cover a war for broadcast news. As such, she has benefitted a great deal from the opportunities created for her by the work of evil Feminists who she decries. However, because of her status as a good daughter who represents the Truth, she is able to set this aside. It seems almost that she is allowed these benefits, not because they were won for her by the Feminists, but because she is a good daughter and has earned these opportunities through her defense of Truth. To speak out against this Truth would be to go against those who have accepted her as a good daughter and to risk losing the respect and prestige that has come to her as a result.

Influencing Theorists Mignolo De Certeau Lacan Belsey Butler