A rhetorical analysis essay is a type of essay that requires you to analyze a piece of text for the purpose of understanding the writer’s tone and voice. You’ll be expected to comment on the aspects of writing, as well as how effectively it communicates its point. This is because rhetoric is the study of argumentation and persuasion.
Essay Example: Not Quite a Clean Sweep: Rhetorical Strategies in Grose’s "Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier"
The Final Feminist Frontier was written in 2003, based on a 1985 article by Janet Dietz and Yvonne Farrell that proposed liberation from gender role stereotypes as a goal in women’s liberation. Dietz and Farrell’s authorship essay, “Achieving Independence in Women’s Liberation” appeared in 1985. “After a half-century of struggling to get the wheels off women’s backs,” they observed, “the wheels are beginning to move – even if in a different direction.”
They declared, “[T]he best thing for a feminist is to promote women to the West’s maternal instinct, to encourage liberation from something that hinders individualism, self-actualization, and participation.
When women are emancipated, they will be able to experience true freedom from the tyranny of patriarchal doctrine, because American attitudes toward independence are more responsible than ever before for the advanced, stealthy break that permeates the highest reaches of American society.” In her 2000 book, Susan Bloomfield argued that the feminism of the 1980s was less about emancipation from the stifling, patriarchal society and more about liberating the personal and mental health of women. The empowerment of women from the conservative culture that punished abortion, divorce, and activism became a focus of American anti-abortion activists, which helped propel the pro-life movement, and also to elect anti-abortion presidents.
Garman, it should be noted, gives an example of the traditional feminine un-empowerment that “affected ordinary women”, which supports the notion that patriarchy oppresses the feminine, both in its own way and in other ways. “…the fixed nature of motherhood, the perpetual need to be propped up and cherished by fathers in favor of obtaining a woman’s identity, was more than a bit depressing. Mothers were made to feel small and insignificant.” Much of the literature about feminism is similarly dominated by the negative aspects of patriarchy. Personal philosophies about the power or powerlessness of the feminine are relatively rare.
Writing about a genre that is dominated by the idea that liberation from the oppressive expectations of patriarchy comes primarily in the form of self-empowerment for women reflects a certain fact of the feminist movement. In her 1968 book, Judith Butler placed an intellectual order for ideas in which a central claim is that self-empowerment overpowers the idea that there is only one way to live; that is, in free will. A commonly accepted idea among feminists is that what it is to live is to possess autonomy over one’s own life; the individualism and naturalness of one’s self is its only characteristic.
The narrative in the Grose essay is quite different. Women are perceived, to varying degrees of reality, as self-consumed, while self-empowerment is viewed as emancipating (or, equivalently, socially incapacitating). This gender gap is the conceptual element that symbolizes a feminist view of what is to and should be done about sexualization, exploitation, and dehumanization. In the stand against the prevailing “liberation of the feminine” narrative, women assert the status of themselves as distinct objects, with which men are either obsessed or taken advantage of.
Grose’s literary approach combines a personal explanation of herself and her surroundings to justify a feminist stance with an explicit demarcation of the feminist position. On the one hand, she is an extremely personal writer, and as such, provides a glimpse into the part of herself (a narcissistic social climber) that has been negatively assigned to her. On the other hand, she is a feminist, and her article provides a feel for the feminist efforts toward self-determination for women, explaining that freedom comes in different forms.
Grose begins her essay describing herself as a “glorified girl-about-town,” believing that for her to ever lead an independent life, she must remain a social animal. This is a problematic idea for a feminist writer, as any self-constructed perception of herself as being male, or self-assertive, is undermined by the notion that all women are expected to be self-destructive.
In sum, both of these literary approaches can be interpreted as personally objective, in that they both allow a reader to understand the author’s own experience without perpetuating the idea that sexuality is made you, rather than earned.