Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Communication Studies and Philosophy
In 2016, Jessica Valenti’s memoir, Sex Object, was published. Sex Object describes Valenti’s experiences of sexualization and objectification in a personal and anecdotal format. The feminine style, a rhetorical style that bridges the divide between norms of femininity and expectations of public oration, has been heralded as essential for advancing the feminist movement. This thesis asks the question, to what extent does contemporary feminists’ rhetoric mirror and diverge from earlier iterations of the feminine style? I argue that Valenti’s employs a feminine style that utilizes relational norms and self-disclosure to illustrate the personal as political and the political as personal, yet she also challenges expectations that women will make their stories palatable by engaging in a blunt tone and utilizing vulgarity. I argue that fourth-wave feminists have a larger spectrum of socially acceptable behavior but are still constrained by conservative gender norms. To conclude, I explain how Valenti’s feminine style contributes to scholarly understandings of contemporary feminist rhetoric, including identity privilege and rhetorical characteristics of fourth-wave feminists.
Zilkey, Michala M., "The Personal is Still Political: An Analysis of Jessica Valenti's Contemporary Feminine Style" (2022). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 8511.
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