Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Forget Women's Studies, Major in Rhetoric

The trouble with having to major in only one or two subjects is that your perceptions of the world, and everything that happens in it, are skewed by the theories of prominent thinkers in your respective field(s), ones with which you are bludgeoned throughout years spent in academia.  Not only does having a limited field of knowledge flatten your world views, but it makes impromptu discussions and arguments exceptionally dull; not only for your peers, who may have heard your same argument repeatedly, but for you as well.  On the rare occasion when my sense of awareness is acutely introspective, I will consciously step out of a conversation involving issues of gender or sexuality for fear that after hearing one or two conflicting opinions to my dogmatic views of equality and women's rights, I'll throw all etiquette and discourse to the wind, and in an impassioned feminist rage, scream, "YOU'RE JUST WRONG, OKAY?!" 

Part of me fears that this occasional refusal to contribute is downright submission to the opposition.  But in reality, I think this is really just a practice in rhetoric.  By practicing silence and absorbing the ideas of differing opinions, rather than ranting off Gloria Steinem's theories of revaluated economics (which, in all honesty, is exactly what I will be doing in a post to follow shortly...brace yourselves.), I'll be able to create a peripheral framework around my own ideas on the issue.  Once I understand their frame of reference, I'll have an easier time of using it against them in future debates.  (Oh, how diva-ous of me!)

If you break it down, media with which we immerse ourselves, such as news channels, literary publications, or academic journals, usually include facets from every dominant ideology.  These facets include differentiating popular belief, societal conventions, patterns of discourse, etc.  We advocates are the media rhetors' audience: we choose which of the above we want to do away with and which we want to use as a framework for debate.  Our championing social change stems directly from how successful rhetoric is used in persuading, say, a branch of government to get on board with a particular issue.

Basically, what all this mumbo-jumbo jargon comes down to is this: Successful advocacy breeds empowerment; empowerment comes when all obstacles are conquered.  Lack of knowledge is the obstacle to progress.  If we want to achieve equality, we must know all components of our opponents.

Put that on your picket signs, and hold it.

No comments:

Post a Comment