This week, our class read a piece by Dr. Jennifer Almjeld, a Writing, Rhetorical, & Technical Communication professor at James Madison University, called “the f-word: a decade of hidden feminism in kairos“. Professor Almjeld and some of her students conducted research on various texts and videos from the journal, Kairos, through a feminist perspective. They found that many authors went in-depth with feminist topics, but didn’t explicitly state “feminism” within their texts. Almjeld and her class discussed that using the word “feminism” should be an empowering term, and they came up with 7 characteristics that describe what feminist rhetorics truly is. The terms were embodied, voiced, positioned, multi-modal, validating, challenging, and empowering. They conducted studies based on their definitions of each word and analyzed how well the texts followed their definitions of the words. The three most important findings they found throughout their research were the gender of the author (or lack thereof), author credentials, and whether or not the Kairos authors specifically defined themselves as feminists.
Today, Professor Almjeld came to speak to our class about the piece, and I found many of her insights fascinating. The main takeaway I gathered, though, was that even she struggles with when to drop the “f-word” or not. I think many of my classmates, including myself, found this comforting because although throughout the piece she advocated for the use of the word feminism, she knows that it can come across differently to different groups, especially if you’re telling the wrong audience about it. Feminism can be a broad term, but Professor Almjeld encouraged all of us to find out what feminism means to each of us specifically, because over time it will develop and we will finally feel confident to tell others our definitions as well. She also mentioned that if she were to include another characteristic for what defines feminist rhetorics, it would be “unpopular,” especially given the political climate we face today. Speaking about feminism can be an unpopular thing to do, both for those speaking about it and those listening to people speak about it.
After reading the piece and listening to Professor Almjeld’s insights today, I wanted to offer a question for our class moving forward: do you all think it’s important to take a deeper look into the authors we will be reading for our annotated bibliography in order to get a better sense of their “feminist lens”? And if so, what should be the standard?
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Professor Almjeld’s piece and listening to her speak today; she shared some great insight and was hilarious as well!