Larner, Lindsay R.

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  • Publication
    The Role of Feminine Rhetoric in Male Presidential Discourse: Achieving Speech Purpose
    (2009-05-01) Larner, Lindsay R.
    Scholars have defined two gender-associated language styles as rhetorical tools that are used by men and women to achieve certain objectives. Masculine language is commanding and instrumental; it is considered conducive to politics. Feminine language is intimate and unifying; it is considered too passive for politics. However, women introduced feminine rhetoric into politics in the United States in 1920 when they were granted the right to participate. But since then, has feminine-style rhetoric played any role in men politicians’ discourse? Specifically, do they use more feminine speech to establish unity and maintain relationships? By comparison, do they use less of it when displaying superiority? To answer these questions, I analyzed two Presidential speeches genres: Inaugural Addresses, which unify the citizenry and foster speaker-audience collaboration – goals feminine language accomplishes -, and Nomination Acceptance Speeches, which display the speaker as leader, expert, and agent – goals masculine language accomplishes. I hypothesize that feminine rhetoric is useful for achieving the Inaugural’s speech purposes, so male politicians should use more feminine speech in Inaugurals than Acceptances.