Aichinger 1 S. R. Aichinger Dr.

Latchaw English 8800: Feminist Rhetoric Wednesday, 22 September 2010 Weekly Reflection Perhaps because of the brief discussion at the beginning of last week·s class in which I (perhaps heavy-handedly) tried to explain, define, and defend feminism from my perspective, I have been particularly sensitive to things in texts that try to achieve this same goal. In fact I found it quite heartening that in both of Campbell·s articles (´Introduction to Man Cannot Speak for Herµ and ´The Rhetoric of Women·s Liberation: and Oxymoronµ), I found many lines that support and justify my brand of feminism. I say ´justifyµ because as a man who considers himself a feminist, I frequently encounter skepticism and varying levels of hostility from what I·ll fall ´feminist puristsµ³that is, female feminists who believe that feminism is a women-only club. I·ll even be so bold as to applaud Campbell for her inclusion and acknowledgment of men in Women·s Liberation (´Introductionµ 8); it can be discouraging to feel passionately about a thing for which one·s efforts, whether successful or not, go unrecognized. I tend to agree with Campbell·s assessment of Women·s Liberation as a ´·state of mind· rather than a movementµ (´Rhetoricµ 74); I fear the term ´movementµ carries with it unnecessary pressures of great sweeping success and swift social change. Furthermore, ´movementµ sounds like a job or a duty, a thing with structure that someone puts a certain amount of her or his time into, only to abandon on weekends and while at home³Campbell notes in ´The Rhetoric of Women·s Liberationµ how Sally Kempton·s feminism affected her marriage (80). Thus, I think ´state of mindµ is a better angle from which to approach feminism

Aichinger 2 and Women·s Liberation « that it is a way of living life, treating oneself, others, the world and one·s role in it. Karlyn Kohrs Campbell·s ´Introduction to Man Cannot Speak for Herµ reminds me of a question I asked in a paper last semester which looked at the so-called feminism of Edward Ballamy and his novel Looking Backward: 2000³1887 (1888). The novel is about a man, Julian West, who relies upon hypnosis-induced comas in order to sleep. One night his trance goes uninterrupted and he sleeps for more than a century and wakes in the year 2000. Bellamy·s point of the novel is, I suppose, to glorify a socialist government, but he states (sans evidence) that the plight of women is erased, that they are happy, and the barriers that separate men from women are, at long last, gone (184). Because of his novel and his position as a socialist, he was considered to be part of a group of male feminists, but as I argued in the paper, he was in fact just a man whose political beliefs required that women achieve the same social and economic standing as men. That is, he supported Woman·s Suffrage not for the sake of Woman, but for the sake of the success of his political goals. I do not mean to imply that such a position is in any way negative; different people have different political motives, but to use a label like feminist so liberally as to ignore one·s motives is to undermine the integrity of the efforts of those whose motives are more accurately described as feminist. My overarching question was something like What is a feminist? or What makes someone a feminist? Is it merely the support and effort to further the social position of women³regardless of the reason³or is it more complicated? And if the reason for such a political position matters, how do motives and personal goals factor in the accurate application of such a label? To be honest, it was a 10-12-page conference paper, and it was clear upon completion that took on a project bigger than 12 pages would allow. However, my interest in the question remains, and as

Aichinger 3 a man who considers himself a feminist, the importance of asking and exploring the question remains just as urgent. If feminism were simply the task of righting the wrongs of legal inequities, it would be left to lawyers and public servants, for I believe that today those issues go largely uncontested. That is, though there are still men in the United States who believe women do not deserve equal social and economic standing, the prevailing unpopularity of such a position would make arguing such a case dangerous to his career (and safety). However, because it is not simply a legal issue, but one of righting the wrongs of deeply-rooted social perceptions and behaviors, more than just participants of the legal professions must work diligently to erase the ´notion that ¶men are male humans whereas women are human females,·µ to go unaffected by their individual successes, and at long last be more than the wives of men (´Rhetoricµ 77).

Aichinger 4 Works Cited Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward: 2000 ² 1887. (1888) New York: Penguin Books, 1986. Print. Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs. ´Introduction to Man Cannot Speak for Her.µ Walking and Talking Feminist Rhetorics: Landmark Essays and Controversies. Eds. Lindal Buchanan and Kathleen J. Ryan. West Lafayette: Parlor Press, 2010. 7-18. Print. Campbell, Karlyn Kohrs. ´The Rhetoric of Women·s Liberation: an Oxymoron.µ Quarterly Journal of Speech 59.1 (1973): 74-86. Print.

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