Believing in Feminism, Lovable Sexism

Rhetorical Inaction and Fallacies of Authenticity

This image will return you instructions on reading the text, rhetorical equity, and the abstract.
  1. Aziz Ansari(self-proclaimed feminist)
    defined feminism on the Late Show with David Letterman: “I believe that if you do believe men and women have equal rights if someone asks if you’re a feminist, you have to say yes because that is how words work.”

    While commendable to support feminism, his definition lacks any reference to advocacy, to authentically enacting feminist practices and behaviors that demonstrate beliefs.
  2. Ansari’s sound-bite “feminism”
    concerns us, and it got us thinking about his character (Tom Haverford) in Parks and Recreation, a show widely praised for its feminist storylines and characters.
  3. Praised for Feminism
    While the show deserves such praise for the way its feminist rhetoric—in how feminism is enacted through characters, storylines, and positive feminist references (e.g., Laura Mulvey and Naomi Wolf)—Tom Haverford is an exception to these actions and unsettles the positive messages.
  4. Ansari isn't Tom Haverford
    However, the character he plays embodies rhetorical maneuvers that “wore me [us] down“—that enable unhealthy masculinity, encouraging “lovable sexism”: a sexism based on authenticity, where men can believe in feminism but not practice and/or advocate for it—where feminism is rhetorical inaction.

transcript pdf

transcript pdf