Women's Research and Resource Center

Donald Trump’s (Rhetorical) Gender Gap

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 - 2:00pm

Jack & Florence Ferman Presentation Room in the Oviatt Library


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Donald Trump has a complicated relationship with women. On the one hand, he claims to love them, to revere them, and to champion their causes. On the other hand, he’s openly sexist and misogynistic, and he has been credibly accused of sexual violence by nearly 2 dozen women. Gender theorists have done much in the past 30+ years to explain how someone can hold those two attitudes in their mind simultaneously, but many people remain perplexed that Trump manages to convince so many other people that these attitudes are not just compatible, but desirable. Rhetoricians have spent centuries trying to understand how someone like Trump manages to persuade people to support him, and rhetoric can help us understand how Trump uses persuasive symbols and why people are persuaded by him. In this talk, Dr. Ryan Skinnell, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric at San Jose State University, uses concepts from the book he edited, Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump, to help explain how Trump’s gender gap works rhetorically.