In the article “In-Between Space” by Andrea Bennett is a personal and argumentative piece whereby the author tries to illustrate her experiences with an identity crisis. Andrea labels herself as a tomboy because she finds it “functional and hopeful” in helping her simplify her identity misperception against society. Even though Andrea understands why some people would balk at such labels, she believes the term ‘tomboy’ offers her the possibility of finding power in monstrosity. The article is Andrea’s way of expressing her thoughts on labels like ‘tomboy’; hence, this paper aims at analyzing the article’s rhetoric elements in the author’s persuasive stance. In essence, the paper applies critical reading skills by examining various rhetoric appeals, possible fallacies, rhetoric models, and use of any applicable rhetoric devices.
Author’s Intension and Purpose
The author shares her personal experiences with an identity crisis, especially through her childhood upbringing. That is, although subtle, the author does not shy from stating her intentions – she would want her audience to stop balking at labels. She tries to give her audience a different viewpoint on how labels can be of great functionality in terms of offering hope. Even though Andrea Bennett does not mention it directly, she targets mothers with young tomboy girls. She would like the mothers not to choose what is best for their children. For instance, she mentions an article by Meredith Hale titled “Don’t Call My Daughter a Tomboy” whereby Hale doesn’t like the moniker. Andrea also points out Catherine Connors titled “Don’t Call Her a Tomboy,” which is similar to Hale’s article.
Although Andrea’s audience is the public, her micro-intention is to reply to the two articles by Meredith Hale and Catherine Connors. In the process, Andrea offers a different perspective from a grown woman who appreciates the moniker ‘tomboy’ and even recognizes herself as such. Andrea Bennett takes us through her personal childhood experiences whereby she illustrates how she began embracing the moniker ‘tomboy’ as a way of dealing with an identity crisis. In vouching for the label ‘tomboy,’ Andrea explains that it helped in communicating with other people in society. If Andrea had been denied of the moniker, she would not have known how to relate with others like her. Thus, as her main purpose, the author would like the public (and mothers) to make it acceptable for gender-queer girls to label themselves monikers like ‘tomboy,’ mainly because it is functional as a way of communicating with the society.
Rhetoric Model (Classical, Rogerian, and Toulmin)
The article uses all three of these models in one way or another. For instance, the author’s tonal facets in this article are characteristic of the Rogerian model. Andrea Bennett intends for her audience to reach a “common ground” with her perspective and allow the acceptable use of labels like ‘tomboy,’ which is shunned by the likes of Meredith Hale and Catherine Connors. As noted by Koltz (2008), the Rogerian emphasizes problem-solving whereby the author tries to persuade her audience to come to a consensus and to stop balking on labels. As an aspect of the Rogerian model, Andrea aims at convincing her audience to at least respect her views even if they do not like her thoughts.
Moreover, since the Rogerian focuses on building bridges between the writer and his/her writers (Dworkin 2001), Andrea is placing a considerable amount of weight on values and beliefs in explaining herself. For instance, she says that she had done a lot to “disentangle [herself] from misogyny” and instead embrace femininity. She is expressing her feelings towards femininity and that she would like to for her audience to do the same and see her viewpoint – on why she is supporting the use of labels such as tomboy.
Apart from the Rogerian model, Andrea Bennett applies the Classical (Aristotle) model, whose main focus is to persuade the audience to take her side in the argument on labels. The model relies heavily on ethos, pathos, and logos, and hence Andrea uses both the pathos and logos in her article. Regarding pathos, she uses emotional aspects in explaining her viewpoints. For instance, being a tomboy resulted in her giving up on mimicking girlhood, which led to a ruptured relationship with her mother. She further illustrates they used to fight over clothes and how she “resented her” as much as her ability to give in to her desires.
The article also applies the aspect of logos, which is simplified as the use of logical reasoning (Poncelet 2016). While referencing the articles by Meredith Hale and Catherine Connors, the author gives an example of how both writers are insisting on treating their daughters without any labels, yet their arguments are eventually focusing on feminism, which is a label on its own. The author also argues that, if the identity of being either a boy or a girl is an acceptable possibility, then why is it wrong to accept the “in-between” where a girl may lean towards masculinity. This type of argument is a logical one.
Rhetorical Elements, Devices, and Fallacies
In her stance to convince her targeted audience, Andrea Bennett uses astounding imageries to tell her story. For instance, the article has a visual image of a hockey team consisting of both girls and boys. The author begins her story by describing a porch in school where she would play WrestleMania with the boys. She provides very descriptive imagery of the porch, which was small, wooden and “flanked by two railings” as a set of stair led to their classroom. This type of imagery sets the article pace and guides its audience into the further reading of the article.
The mentions of the WWF WrestleMania keeps the audience interested and thus want to read more of the article. At first, it is hard to grasp what the author’s intentions are, but then, later on, she finally reveals it. However, the imagery keeps the audience engaged with the story of her upbringing. At the same time, this type of organizational pattern is appropriate for the article. That is, she intends for her audience to join in viewing the argument from her point of view. This is only achievable if the audience feels the pains and struggles she went through while growing up with an identity crisis.
Andrea Bennett also uses lots of referencing in her article. For example, while explaining the meaning of the term ‘tomboy,’ the author references Jack Halberstam’s 1998 book “Female Masculinity.” She then goes ahead to mention contemporary celebrities perceived as tomboys, such as Janelle Monae and Tilda Swinton. Finally, and more importantly, she references articles written by Meredith Hale and Catherine Connor, who oppose Andrea’s thoughts on labels. The author seems to target these writers in letting them have a different perspective on labels.
From the aforementioned rhetorical elements and models, the paper has managed to analyze and capture the author’s intentions and thoughts on identity miscommunication regarding tomboys. The author’s feelings on balking at labels like ‘tomboys’ become obvious at the end of the article, whereby she pleads with her audience to embrace labels as functionalities for confused girls to identify with the society. Most importantly, the author’s use of the Classical and Rogerian models is highly welcomed, and thus well captured in this paper.
Dworkin, Ronald W. “Science, Faith and Alternative Medicine.” Policy Review, vol. 108, no. 2, 2001, pp. 3-19. Academic Search Premier.
Koltz, Hattie. “Doctors Offer Alternative, Naturally: Naturopathic Doctors Meet Growing Demand for Their Services.” Ottawa Citizen, 17 May 2008, H10. Canadian Newsstand.
Poncelet, Barbara. “Mom Am I Fat?: Helping Your Teen Have a Positive Body Image.” Verywell.com. About Inc., 20 Apr. 2016, www.verywell.com/mom-am-i-fat-3200843.