Overwhelmed

One of the three medieval rhetorical arts is identified in our book as preaching, which immediately brings to mind a crowd gathered in a church listening to a reading from the Bible. Then consider the Duomo, which we learned on our tour was the city’s central meeting area for business deals, dating, legal disputes, and politics. It probably wasn’t always this quiet, peaceful place of reverent conversation. I imagine children and dogs running about, laughing and music and probably arguing, and above all, bustle. People had other things to do besides sit and listen to a back and forth classical rhetorical debate.

Insert a speaker out front, or inside. They’re loud. They don’t have the time to give you the whole spiel before you hurry by them. So they craft short thoughts, any of which can catch your attention in passing. Even if it doesn’t immediately convince you of their point, it gets you thinking. You’ll probably find yourself absently wondering about whatever they said at random points during your day, and the thought will linger. Over time, you’ll accept it as the truth or the right way, because that’s what you heard first and you remember. We’ve established that this preaching is a rhetorical art.

But is it classical confrontational rhetoric? I think not. You didn’t give the rhetor a counterpoint or a contradiction. Instead they invited you to stay and listen if you wanted, then prompted you to come to your own conclusion. That is the art of feminist rhetoric, because it is in truth a manipulation the decision you’ll come to by planting that first seed in passing. Feminist rhetoric doesn’t have to be this long winded, tear jerking encounter. It’s about coaxing new thoughts out, encouraging older thoughts to grow, and offering a chance to use your own intelligence instead of being battered down by an often forceful argument. So I ask you, why do we cling to classical one choice is better than the other and convince everyone to our side when we could open opportunity for people to create new, insightful conclusions of their own that might not have even been considered? Why do we stick with one person’s logic when two minds with different experiences sounding an idea between them is better than one?

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