Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Committee Director

Candace Epps-Robertson

Committee Member

Julia Ramberger

Committee Member

Avi Santo

Abstract

In a time where misogynistic phrases from political figures such as Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell are being reclaimed by feminists on Twitter, it is crucial for feminist rhetorical scholars to pay close attention to the rhetorical dynamics of such reclamation efforts. In particular, the reclamation of the phrase nasty woman via #NastyWoman, #NastyWomen, #IamANastyWomanBecause, #IamANastyWoman, etc. is a fruitful site for analysis. In this thesis, the reclamation efforts of Twitter feminists will be analyzed to gauge the underlying discourse at work in the hashtag. Based on the origins of the hashtag and the way the tweeters have come to define the term nasty woman, the hashtag is a discourse of respectability politics. Meaning, the tweeters are not merely reclaiming the phrase to repudiate Donald Trump, empower themselves, or highlight the gendered insults levied at women who exhibit assertiveness, confidence, and other “masculine” traits; they are also denouncing the respectability politics that governs women. However, the reclamation efforts have caused, to use Kenneth Burke’s concept, alienation in certain tweeters because the type of respectability the tweeters are denouncing is one that pertains to European American women. This thesis will present a study of the rhetoric of respectability within #NastyWomen and its variations as well as how such a rhetoric has contributed to the formation of a stock story of respectability that excludes the experiences of respectability from African American women.

ISBN

9780355960020

Included in

Rhetoric Commons

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