The fact that women and men have lived on unequal terms is not a current trend. This injustice occurred far before the beginnings of rhetoric; however, this is where we will begin. The ideas for masculinity and femininity were created by men who had the power to publically use rhetoric. Women, at the time of the Sophists, were not allowed to speak out in public settings, thus leaving them uneducated on the bases of rhetoric. However, not knowing much else, the women went along with what they had been told, and were unable to involve themselves in rhetoric. The women were comparable to the characters in The Giver, who despite living in a strict dystopian society, went along with the job assigning processes because this was what they were raised knowing. When the main character, Jonas, receives the job of The Giver and starts to see in color, he is given a small taste of what the world could be, and begs for more. This is, what over time, women have been doing to reach equality – begging the question, why not us too?

Aspasia, a teacher of Socrates, was a woman who learned and utilized rhetorical skills. Though Socrates was credited with developing the Socratic method, it is said that Aspasia was actually the creator of this systematic method of speaking and learning from each other. Rosalind Franklin is a more modern example of Aspasia. While Watson and Crick received the Nobel Prize, taking credit for her notes on the structure and makeup of human DNA, Rosalind Franklin was left unacknowledged.

False perceptions of women still exist today, and they exist across cultures in the same sense that they had in the past – rhetoric shapes the social constructs of masculinity and femininity. During the Democratic National Convention, the parents of a fallen soldier had spoken on the soldier’s behalf about his love for his country and the statements he wished to leave behind as a legacy. Donald Trump, a few days later, had mentioned in an interview that he thought the mother of the fallen soldier, an Islamic woman, was too afraid to speak because it was not something that women of her culture did. This insensitivity and lack of understanding of other religions and cultures should not be tolerated, especially not by the American public, as members of a nation who holds their freedom of religion to a high standard. Nevertheless, these versions of stereotypes against men and women of different cultures still exist, and it is harsh to judge without understanding.

What kind of standards do we still hold women to in America? Is there a difference between how we talk about men and women in the public setting? The presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is an example of the way we focus on certain aspects of men and women in the media. Though Trump has gotten flack for his orange face and red hair, these statements are more restricted to social media and not news stations, while the price of Clinton’s DNC pants suit was published nearly the day after she appeared in it. See this article about comparisons between Hillary and Michelle Obama’s styles while holding the title First Lady in the White House ( However, what should be covered are Hillary’s policies, her intentions for the future of America – not her clothing and hair.

Injustices occur globally, and are only easy to ignore when you are not the one affected by the injustices. As a nation, we should continue to reach toward social equity in place of social injustice.


For more information, please view the following presentation.