Methods Of Protest Writing
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Any piece of writing that expresses a strong objection to a certain situation or event, with intent to convince or catalyze a change in the readers view of said situation or event, may be classified as protest writing, regardless of structure, language, audience, point of view, appeals, or support. The only factor that classifies writing as protest writing is purpose: the purpose of catalyzing change and amending the things to which the writer objects. Radical texts are a vital part of protest writing. Radical writing is an extremely effective way of catching the publics attention and catalyzing change. A sense of legitimacy is not intrinsic to an effective piece of protest writing, as shown by the comparison between the writing of Betty Friedan and Valerie Solanas. One is an extremely effective and respectable piece that had no exaggeration or radicalism in its message. The other is a radical and over the top piece that has no sense of legitimacy or credibility. But they both promote a change in the status quo in America concerning women. They both promote awareness of the stagnancy of routine in the lives of American housewives, and both hope to catalyze a change in American society.
In Betty Friedans piece “The Problem that Has No Name,” she writes with a distinguished and respectable tone. Her writing makes her out to be a well educated and intelligent person, who wants to raise awareness for her cause. “Over and over women heard in voices of tradition and of Freudian sophistication that they could desire no greater destiny than to glory in their own femininity.” In this case she is an advocate for a cause that she is directly involved with. The plight of housewives and the overall repression of women in America is best told by a housewife- a person who has experienced the problem. She is able to convey her argument in an acceptable, and, almost polite tone. This keeps even biased readers somewhat open to what she has to say.
Her argument is centered around what is required to solve “The Problem that Has No Name.” The reader is told that there is a problem – one that must be confronted – but she doesnt really specify what this problem is until the end of the paper. This forces the reader to read all she has to say about the problem before making their own decisions about this problem. If she began her paper ranting about womens rights or a feminist movement – nobody would take the paper seriously. She makes her argument, and she lets the reader decide what the problem really is. She leads the reader to her conclusion, to the problem with no name- the plight of the American housewife.
She begins the paper using statistics and facts pertaining to womens rates of marriage and rates of college attendance among young women. She then references many popular and well respected media outlets that have stories that relate to her argument. She ends the piece with more personal accounts from women – including a personal account of her own. The structure of this piece begins with acceptable – almost scientific in tone facts and statistics. Then come more stories and commentaries about the plight of the American housewife as seen by the American media. She uses well respected sources to give societys perspective on the issue. Lastly she uses emotionally appealing personal testimonies – from housewives themselves – giving the end of her paper an especially emotional and visceral feeling that the reader is left with. The structure of her writing is very effective in adding a sense of seriousness and legitimacy- It eases the reader into the argument as it becomes increasingly focused and serious.
Another factor that contributes a sense of legitimacy and respectability is her use of references. In her argument, she uses Time, Newsweek, CBS, NY Times, Redbook, and Harpers to support her ideas. The fact that all of these contemporary magazines acknowledge the problem that Freidan is writing about gives her piece a sense of truth. As long as the reader believes that her argument is real and truthful – they have no reason to deny its legitimacy – and this makes the paper effective in making the reader aware of the problem – and pushing them to question their opinions on the subject of womens rights.
While reading the S.C.U.M. Manifesto, it may be easily confused with the diaries of a deranged and unstable woman such as Eileen Wuornos. The manifesto,