Angelina Jolie’s Rhetorical Speech on Female Empowerment

Have you ever wondered why it is mainly women who talk about the problems of other women? And why among these female speakers there are so many Hollywood artists? And, finally, what is that all for? The point is, famous females have the privilege to use their fame to share acute problems of modern society with the global audience. An excellent example of that is Angelina Jolie’s speech that she gave at Women in Entertainment Breakfast hosted by the Hollywood Reporter in 2017. Claiming that every woman has a right to live her life to the full and express her life to the full, Angelina delivered a powerful message to her colleagues to inspire them to fight for female empowerment through art.

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It is known that gender inequality is a common issue in different industries, societies, and countries. Girls and women suffer discrimination and violence and usually have no right to speak for themselves (Cavaghan 42). There are countries where husbands can legally prevent their wives from working, as well as there are countries where women are not protected against sexual violence (Kabeer 189). Angelina Jolie was one of the first female artists to speak for such women and draw the attention of society to them. However, the speech she gave at Women in Entertainment Breakfast lacks logical reasoning and evidence, which should be regarded as a serious drawback (O’Brien et al. 271; Hiller 470). Nevertheless, the emotional impact of her message on the audience can hardly be overestimated.

The purpose of the speech was to highlight the fact that several women are suffering from injustice, and women of art should show solidarity with them. Jolie aims at involving her colleagues to fight inequality using professional tools and social status. One could note that Jolie did her best to interest the listeners and keep them engaged throughout the speech. She appealed to their emotions by contrasting discriminated women with those who have the freedom to express themselves. However, Angelina did not provide valid evidence to support her claim, which made her speech seem a bit pretentious and vague. In particular, she does not say how exactly artists can use their position to help females during their hard times.

It is possible to assume that the potential impact of the speech would be primarily on Hollywood celebrities who could use their platform to fight problems of gender inequality and diversity. The importance of involving famous people in dealing with global problems has been mentioned by several studies (Pater et al. 407; Worth et al. 54). Jolie masterfully uses the constraints and resources afforded by the occasion, audience, and speech itself. She keeps the speech short and takes advantage of talking to artists sitting in front of her, including Jennifer Lawrence, Gal Gadot, and Olivia Munn. As it was Women in Entertainment Breakfast, Jolie tried to link the problem of women who do not have basic rights and freedoms with women of art who have every opportunity to share their views.

Perhaps the thing that makes Jolie’s appeal so effective is the claim that people of art should use their level of freedom to inspire and speak for women whose voices are always silenced. By highlighting the difference between discriminated women and empowered ones and honoring women who refuse to be intimidated, Jolie encourages all female artists to get involved in fighting gender equality using any possible means. To conclude, Jolie’s speech is so remarkable because she managed to make a strong appeal to pathos yet failed to make a powerful appeal to logos.

Works Cited

Cavaghan, Rosalind. “Bridging Rhetoric and Practice: New Perspectives on Barriers to Gendered Change.” Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, vol. 38, no. 1, 2016, pp. 42–63.

Hiller, Victor. “Gender Inequality, Endogenous Cultural Norms, and Economic Development.” The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, vol. 116, no. 2, 2014, pp. 455–481.

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Kabeer, Naila. “Gender, Poverty, and Inequality: A Brief History of Feminist Contributions in the Field of International Development.” Gender & Development, vol. 23, no. 2, 2015, pp. 189–205.

O’Brien, Dave, et al. “Producing and Consuming Inequality: A Cultural Sociology of the Cultural Industries.” Cultural Sociology, vol. 11, no. 3, 2017, pp. 271–282.

Pater, Irene, et al. “Age, Gender, and Compensation.” Journal of Management Inquiry, vol. 23, no. 4, 2014, pp. 407–420.

Worth, Anna, et al. “Playing the Gender Card: Media Representations of Julia Gillard’s Sexism and Misogyny Speech.” Feminism & Psychology, vol. 26, no. 1, 2015, pp. 52–72.

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