ENGL 4320: CTW Response 1 – “Feminist Rhetoric in the Digital Sphere” & The Ferguson Syllabus

The two pieces discussed in this response highlight ways in which social media and the digital realm can be harnessed as tools to push back against oppressive power structures. Through two different modes of digital text, they demonstrate the power that technology has in giving voices to those who are routinely silenced. The first of the two texts I will be discussing is “Feminist Rhetoric in the Digital Sphere: Digital Interventions & the Subversion of Gendered Cultural Scripts” by Liz Lane. The article starts by recounting a 13 hour filibuster delivered by Wendy Davis in 2013. When Davis was evicted from the podium during the final hour of the filibuster—for allegedly veering off topic—fellow senator, Leticia Van de Putte took the podium. Addressing not only her colleges but the viewers of the session—in-house and digital—she asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand for her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?” The article uses Van de Putte’s rhetorical question to address the larger subject of how women can be recognized, acknowledged, heard, and respected in the digital sphere, or as Lane puts it: “At what point must a woman speak online in order for her voice to be recognized?” She speaks to the role of authority in male spaces, the silencing of women, and the rhetorical subversions used by women and enabled by the digital sphere that “strengthen the presence feminist rhetoric in online discourse.” Lane notes that while there are empowering aspects afforded by the digital sphere, it can also facilitate harassment more easily. The piece uses well applied supporting...
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