An Examination on Sociocultural “Marking” of Women – Rhetorical Analysis of “There Is No Unmarked Woman” by Deborah Tanen

1835 WordsMar 22, 20138 Pages
Nicole Carper Professor M. Keith English 1101, sec. C20 08 November 2012 An Examination On Sociocultural “Marking” of Women – Rhetorical Analysis of “There Is No Unmarked Woman” by Deborah Tanen What is it that makes a woman a woman, or what makes a man a man? Deborah Tannen, author and Ph.D. of linguistics, investigates this question within the essay, “There Is No Unmarked Woman.” An excerpt from a larger publication, “Talking from 9 to 5,” written in 1994, “There Is No Unmarked Woman” is an effective examination of the social injustice as to why the state of womanhood is “marked” while the state of manhood is “unmarked”, and what this means for each sex. The book itself is a result of real-life research about the conversational…show more content…
The unmarked form of a word is the base word, and in order to mark a word, one must then add something to it in order to alter its meaning. This being said, Tannen goes on to explain that the unmarked form of a word has a strong tendency to be seen as the masculine form of the word, and in order to make the word feminine, one must add something. Word endings like “-ess” and “-ett” are what can then mark a word to become feminine in connotation. So the metaphor goes, men are the baseline; they are what one “thinks of when you’re not thinking of anything special,” and women therefore must be the outliers. They must be “special.” But then it becomes clear that this phenomenon promotes common associations, as Tannen says, that force the female gender to be taken less seriously. The example is brought up of that a severely injured individual would most likely rather be treated by someone with the title “Doctor,” and less likely to wish to be treated by someone with the title, “Doctorette.” This device is effective due to the logical structure in which the definition leads the argument Tannen presents and the examples she uses to aid her definitive argument. One might never think about how less important a “Doctorette” sounds over “Doctor” until the contrast is presented in this light, but Tannen forces it to be

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