Nov 2, 2017 in Review

The article “Women in Politics: Still Searching for an Equal Voice”by Ann Wicks and Raylene Lang-Dion first appeared in the Canadian Parliamentary Review in 2008. The issue discussed in the article was that politics is something that “men do.” Having given some examples of people’s (in particular, men’s) attitude towards female politicians, the authors confirmed the existence of a gender stereotype that politics is a man’s job only. Trying to debunk this misconception, Ann Wicks and Raylene Lang-Dion started talking about the women’s role in parliaments of other countries. A striking example was Sweden which has 47.3 percent of women parliamentarians. The authors also drew the readers’ attention to the problem with women participation in political life of Canada. They made an assumption that if Canada is to have “prosperous democracy women must have an equal voice.”

Analyzing this article, it should be mentioned that the mode of discourse used by the authors is exposition. To make their message more persuasive, Ann Wicks and Raylene Lang-Dion incorporated rhetoric strategies which are ethos, pathos, and logos. They appeal to the authority and the audience’s emotions. Generally, skillful use of these three rhetorical appeals helps writers easily persuade target readers and even win their support.

Logos depends on the use of inductive or deductive reasoning. Taking into consideration the target audience of their article that is not only parliamentarians but voters mainly, Ann Wicks and Raylene Lang-Dion published an in-depth article that is logically constructed. They began it with a claim that women rarely took part in the political life of their countries. The authors based inductive reasoning on the figures they provided next as examples (the percentage of female legislators in parliaments of Sweden, Rwanda, and Finland). Similarly, the confirmation of the existence of a gender stereotype among politicians followed.

The authors cited political scientists Linda Trimble and Jane Arscott about a strange thing that “women politicians are repeatedly evaluated by their looks, clothing, relationships, and the tone of their voices – anything but their political skills.” Then a vivid example of Hillary Clinton was provided who was not treated in a proper way either. To make their arguments more convincing and to defend their point of view, the authors of the article used a supplement which is a table of tracking federal nominations in Canada. They tried to support their idea logically, using various kinds of examples that produced an effect of examining the issue from different points of view.

As a rule, writers provide a lot of examples to persuade their readers, even distrustful ones. As a result, the quantity turns into quality, and the idea that is repeated several times becomes a true one. Thus, the statement about the insignificant role of women in politics was a very persuasive one. There was deductive reasoning as well when the readers were reminded about 21.7 percent of female parliamentarians in Canada. The authors posed rhetorical questions then, which are more persuasive than any other types of questions because they are provocative.

What is more, there were not common errors in reasoning, the so-called logical fallacies which could undermine the logic of the article. It is rather because a bigger part of the article is informative and consists of exposition based on well-known information. In fact the statement of fact cannot allow a logical fallacy to appear.

Ethical appeal or ethos mostly refers to reliability or credibility of the writer. That is why ethos is of paramount importance to the author. In the article “Women in Politics: Still Searching for an Equal Voice,”Ann Wicks and Raylene Lang-Dion achieved credibility by using reliable sources to build their arguments. For example, they cited Joanna Everitt who studies media and gender in Canada; Kim Campbell, Canada’s first and only female Prime Minister; Lisa Young who is a political scientist; and other significant people who have a real feel of politics. The sources were properly cited, which reveals that the authors did not make them up.

The use of figures in the article, especially some statistics, (Table “The Canada Challenge: Tracking Federal Nominations”) makes the audience believe that Ann Wicks and Raylene Lang-Dion are very knowledgeable about what they are reporting. Generally, the message becomes more persuasive when the writer mentions some personal experience, but the authors of that article did not use that tactic. To establish reliability, they used a simple strategy – a chronological order in the paragraph organization. Then the entire article was well-structured: the main idea, arguments, examples, and illustrations of different kinds. Also, the absence of grammar mistakes makes a favorable impression on the reader.

The last rhetorical strategy is pathos which is considered to be the most emotional appeal. It allows using such sources as individual stories or examples to paint a more plausible and moving picture of reality. The authors of the article used an example from the personal experience of Hillary Clinton who was evaluated by her “dumpy pantsuit” rather than her political skills. By and large, the authors appealed to the audience’s needs. They touched the problem of gender inequality that is still topical when it comes to politics.

Taking everything into consideration, Ann Wicks and Raylene Lang-Dion wrote not only a well-structured and in-depth article, but a thought-provoking and persuasive one. They made a powerful impression on the readers by the professional use of rhetorical strategies. Logos, ethos, and pathos were interspersed with each other in their article, and they made a good argument as well. 

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