What is a Woman? The Rhetorical Implications of the Media Representation of the 1919 El Paso Girls Laundry Strike

Popp, Veronica
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300 laundry workers went on strike in El Paso and were subsequently locked out. The El Paso Herald switches words from women to “girls” once they struck and were re-hired. When the women acted, they were considered girls. The implication is that girls can cause disruptions, but women must be silent. Staying quiet was to perform one’s race, gender and class and by failing to was unfeminine. By placing the women within a certain age range, media representation degrades their labor as a temporary action that will not last, once they are adults. Girls is a diminutive term used to describe women of color to goad them and denote that by acting like children, these women were not rightful American citizens. I seek to write these silenced women into the rhetorical tradition as powerful actors determining their own fate.

Creative Arts and Research Symposium
Creative Arts and Research Symposium