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from Volume 43, Issue 1 - Spring 2020

“Believing” in Feminism, “Lovable” Sexism: Rhetorical Inaction and Fallacies of Authenticity

Paul Muhlhauser

Jedidiah Fowler

Daniel Schafer

Parks and Recreation expresses a metamodern feminist sensibility; however, the show also promotes a toxic metamodern masculinity. Character Tom Haverford illustrates the dangers of such a masculinity. He simultaneously embraces a “softer” more feminine side and is stereotypically sexist in his behavior towards women. Rather than take issue with his actions, feminist characters, like Leslie Knope, give Tom a “pass” because they believe his behavior isn’t “authentic” because he’s really a “good” guy. Such a “pass” on Tom’s behavior illustrates a dangerous fallacy regarding gender equality, allowing one to believe in feminism but not necessarily advocate for feminism.

Our first fully online special issue, Volume 40, Issue 2 - Spring 2018​

Nasty (Wo)manifestos

“Nasty (Wo)manifestos” is a collection of electronic multimedia, artwork, poetry, slam poetry, music, mashups, video installations, documentaries, photography, essays, animations, and experimental texts that explore new opportunities, critiques, and manifestos (or “nasty womanifestos”) for feminist social change. In the midst of a current climate of rape culture, locker room talk, and neoliberal globalization. Manifestos that “remix” feminisms in order to articulate where we, as feminists, are now.

from Volume 38, Issue 2 - Fall 2015

The Daily Gas: Rhetoric, Bodies, Beano

Paul Muhlhauser

Daniel Schafer

Initially inspired by a nostalgic memory of an elementary school prank involving the ingestion of a large amount of pork and beans before class and the shameless flatulence that followed, “The Daily Gas” builds creatively on the work of material rhetoricians to open rhetoric up beyond a focus on symbols—words, pictures, and sounds. It examines how material signs (e.g., Beano, Gas-X, and pork and beans) connect to gender and bodies in important rhetorical ways. “The Daily Gas” explores how men and women are instructed to use food rhetorically—to regulate and control their bodies’ offensive outputs through the choices they make in products promoting digestive health and bodily control.

Gender Reality in the Chinese Terms and Expressions Observed on Websites in Current China

Ling-Yi Zhou

This paper describes how gender and women are represented in Mandarin Chinese observed on popular websites in current China. A qualitative content analysis of the online gender-related terms and expressions at the lexical and semantic levels has revealed linguistic asymmetry that evidences the persistence of the “male-above-female” gender hierarchy. Numerous expressions consistently underscore youthful beauty being the most valuable capital for women in contrast to intellectual talents for men. The most disturbing finding is that Chinese women in the 21st century, those with higher education and career success in particular, are being relentlessly disparaged, and even sexually assaulted, by the female-specific terms that have emerged in the current era of modernization and economic reform. There’s urgency to advocate practicing sexism-free language in the cyberspace in China.

from Volume 38, Issue 1 - Spring 2015

Between the Lines: A Discussion of a Marginalized Mindset

Tammy Jefferies

This performative essay asks its audience to imagine the shift of perception through imagining the construct of race without the characteristic of skin tone. Asking the reader to consider race as a mindset and not a physical characteristic calls us to question the systems we live within with a new critical eye. Would our coded symbols adapt to this minor change or would our systems falter and have to change completely? This space is used to tell a personal narrative of race, perform an altered reality of illness remission in society (Frank, 1995), and to play with power dynamics in academe between the author and editor (Derrida, 1978). Situated in the sociocultural tradition of communication theory, I offer an autoethnographic narrative that helps explain how I was taught to understand my racial identification as a black woman with a light skin tone, or what others see as racial ambiguity. I then shift the lens to the reader by changing the body and margins of the essay, thus challenging our idea of normal. Finally, this new perspective also serves to position the reader as this paper’s editor by asking her or him to play with the delicate balance of our socially constructed systems and play with, or question, our culture’s dependency on minor characteristics.


The Hair Down There: Untangling Pubic Hair Politics

Kristine C. Blinne

This commentary is a tongue-in-cheek exploration of pubic hair styling practices, aiming to open up a conversation with readers about this topic. In doing so, I actively imagine (picture a person daydreaming here) and question a variety of reasons as to why some women might also choose to engage in this practice, further implicating my own complicity in removing pubic hair in this performative text. I invite readers to relax, have a glass of wine, smile, and perhaps even attempt to be entertained and challenged by this hopefully playful-yet-critical and intentionally conversational rambling about pubic hair, not arriving at any specific end-all, is-all, or be-all place. I would be doing a disservice to the research I have conducted on this topic, however, by not calling attention to the work I have completed, including a 100 person qualitative survey on pubic hair styling preferences, a 700 person mixed methodology survey on attitudes regarding body hair removal/non-removal, and hundreds of hours of interviews and observations at hair removal studios. Additionally, as a licensed hair removal specialist, I would also be remiss not to honor the voices of hundreds of clients I have encountered who have shared their stories and revealed their bodies to me. Thus, in celebration of these experiences, my goal is not to argue for or against pubic styling but to contribute to the conversation by recognizing the diversity of practices and meanings assigned to why someone may or may not choose to remove or style pubic hair; why not prescribing labels and judgment about idealized bodies matters for those who do remove their hair; and how every voice in this conversation is important, regardless of the level of agreement or disagreement you have with each person’s position.

from Volume 37, Issue 1 - Spring 2014

Two Generations, Two Women, One Fight: Equality - A Performance

Cara T. Mackie

Vicki Wuertz

This performance engages two generational viewpoints as it examines women of today and women of yesterday. The authors incorporate autoethnographic stories and research on second and third wave feminism to compare and contrast generational views and experiences. “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar” was the anthem for the generation of women who demanded recognition for their abilities outside of the kitchen and the bedroom. Women had to negotiate their roles in the workforce and in the house. Growing up in this wake of change allowed women in younger generations to make choices. “I Am Woman, Watch Me Soar” can now be attributed to this younger generation of women. Women are still negotiating roles in the workforce and house, but feel they have been so far removed from the house that they don’t even know how to wear an apron. Did we have a choice?

(Mis)Representing Gender Politics: An Intersectional Feminist Exploration of the Miss Representation Movement

Danielle M. Stern, Christopher Newport University

Chelsea J. Henderson, Christopher Newport University

Despite the efforts of millions of women and men across multiple movements, gender inequality in American political, economic, and other institutions persists. Even though women are 51% of the population, they only serve as 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs, 7% of mainstream film directors, and comprise 17% of the House of Representatives. Additionally, 2011 was the first year since 1979 that women did not gain seats in Congress, and the United States ranks 90th in the world with regard to women in national legislatures. These statistics, revealed in the documentary, Miss Representation which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and again on the Oprah Winfrey Network, are intended to increase awareness of gender inequality and “challenge the media’s limiting portrayal of women and girls” (http://www.missrepresentation. org/). This blog project investigates how Siebel Newsom and other leaders of the Miss Representation movement have combined efforts across multiple media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, email campaigns, and grassroots means, such as film screenings and dinner conversations in private homes as well as public spaces, to reignite a cross-generational feminist movement. We proceed guided by the following research questions: how does the Miss Representation campaign position gender and leadership? Moreover, what type of feminism does the Miss Representation movement promote? We explore the tensions between the feminist goals of agency and community within the Miss Representation documentary and brand through an exploration of the film’s themes, textual and visual rhetoric, and an examination of the movement’s online presence via its website and Twitter account.

from Volume 36, Issue 2 - Fall 2013

I am the working class mother

Katherine J. Denker

A poem, an exegesis, and a discussion on the method of using poetry as a part of teaching.

Women’s Strength in Waves

Nicole Defenbaugh

Twelve years into the new century and we cannot help but ask ourselves how far feminism has come. With gender inequities and atrocities such as lower pay wages, female genital mutilation, and continued debates over reproductive rights we (women and men) are forced to pause in the midst of our daily lives and question the advancements women have made since Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and the many other founding mothers. How far have we come toward creating equality since women earned the right to vote a century ago? Who has laid the feminist foundation on which we currently stand? How do we continue to pave the way for future feminists while keeping the light of freedom and justice burning in the darkness of backlash and misogyny? In this performance piece, the author looks back at the waves women have made over the past one and half centuries and asks the audience to consider who has shaped the face of feminism and how their words and actions have influenced who, what, and where we are today. The author reminds the viewer not to forget the words of our foremothers as we reflect on the strength of women’s voices over the past three waves.

from Volume 36, Issue 1 - Spring 2013


Paul Muhlhauser

Daniel Schafer

“Avengendering” critically examines Black Widow from The Avengers and Clarice Starling from The Silence of the Lambs through a feminist lens. Inspired by a Twitter discussion begun by @femfreq (Anita Sarkeesian), “Avengendering” shows how Black Widow and Clarice Starling promote and challenge sexist tropes (e.g., Femme Fatale and Smurfette). The analysis focuses on a scene in The Avengers between Loki and Black Widow that remediates similar scenes between Starling and Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs to quite different effects.

from Volume 35, Issue 2 - Fall 2012

Refiguring Family: Rhetoric, Feminist Voices, and Digital Publishing

Kelly Bradbury

Envera Dukaj

Paul Muhlhauser

This essay, a biographical piece exploring the experiences of three editors for a special issue of the interactive digital magazine Harlot, is presented as an online website. Harlot is dedicated to exploring rhetoric in everyday life, and a special issue CFP encouraged authors to consider “Family Rhetoric” or the ways in which family is constructed through language and imagery. To the surprise of the editors at Harlot, this call resulted in a record number of submissions to the magazine. An overwhelmingly high percentage of these works were composed by women or focused on women’s experiences (such as mothering and motherhood), and a large percentage were composed in the form of a personal narrative. Wanting to know more about how and why this happened, we conducted a survey of authors who submitted to the “Family Rhetoric” issue. “Refiguring Family: Rhetoric, Feminist Voices, and Digital Publishing” explores the results of this survey and our speculations about why this issue struck such a strong chord with authors.

Their Daughter, Their Dispute: An Outcome of Child Support Enforcement Court

Cindy J. Elmore

This hyperlinked ethnographic essay describes the odyssey of one of the many custodial parents who struggled to get the child support enforcement system to collect on a child’s behalf. Four years of travails through a bureaucratic system of child support enforcement resulted in an unexpected culmination. As the details from ethnographic observation are shared, readers are able to click through words or phrases that lead to websites with further information or deeper explanations.

Absent Aunt-ing: Connection to/with Grief, Loss, & Forgiveness from a Dying Aunt

Nicole Defenbaugh

This is a story about blood relations, not about what it means to be an “aunt.” I have many “aunts” though my mother was an only child and my father only had a half-sister, my only biological aunt. In this story I am left trying to understand our relationship in my aunt’s absence and forgive both her and myself for lost time never to be found. This is my absent aunt-ing story. My eulogy and tribute 10 years later.

from Volume 34, Issue 2 - Fall 2011

Wom(b)en Soundings

Barbara Bicke

Ingrid Rose

From within what post-Lacanian artist/psychoanalyst Bracha Ettinger describes as the Matrixial, a theoretical language with its foundation in the symbology of the womb, has emerged. In this essay fourteen women’s voices encounter and reattune with the m/Other through a process of co-emergence and co-fading in the form of lyric prose. Drawing from a collaborative qualitative arts-based study of women spiritual leaders committed to multi-faith education, wom(b)en soundings calls us to relearn the holy language of peace. Vibrating with the frequencies of several strings that perform a poetic of ethics, this writing holds the potential to shift, transform and reform each of us in the midst of relations of difference.

Seeing Dixie: Exposing Patriarchy in an Internet Meme

Kathryn A. Cady

Robert Alan Brookey

Renee M. Powers

The Dixie Square Mall may symbolize the decline of U.S. mall culture generally, but the creators propose there is an implicit gender valence to the meme and that the mall symbolizes a feminine space that has been violated. The blog considers how this violation and subsequent deterioration is held up online for a masculine scopophilic gaze.


Hello Kitty Does Gender in Four Scenes

Sandra Faulkner

In these poems, the well-known fictional character, Hello Kitty, interrogates issues of gender in four institutional contexts. The use of the now ubiquitous Kitty (http://, whose image is on products ranging from toasters to coin purses, allows a critique of gender roles, gendered language, and understandings of gendered work.

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