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Ellen Goodman and Carol Tavris share styles in writing, audiences, and rhetorical appeals. Both authors write informally and direct their message towards listeners between the age of 30-45 years of age. Goodman and Tavris also use pathos to back up their essays.
In Countering the Culture of Sex, Goodman addresses teenage sex and the media. Sex is sold throughout the United States by the television and music. Goodman thinks is the media is going to continue to propagate this material to the youth of the nation, then there needs to be a complete view of sex and the consequences. The images teenagers see today are only positive images of sex. They do not put the bad facts: sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and pregnancy, with all the good advertising sex has developed in their minds. Goodman stands for a movement towards correct portrayal of sex in the media.
In Groups We Shrink From Loner’s Heroics, Tavris describes the phenomenon of social loafing. Through two incidences, Tavris depicts a society where people in groups allow a murder or beating to take place without intervention. This lack of responsibility stems from the group individual’s belief that someone else is already taking care of the situation. Tavris feels strongly that people who merely stand and watch should also be considered in the wrong. She wants the public to unite and look out for each other’s best interests, to not fall into a diffusion of responsibility.
The writing styles in both essays are similar; they are informal. Tavris notes, “They behave badly because they aren’t paying attention, or they leave it to Harry, or they don’t want to rock the boat…” These modern day phrases make it easier for the reader to understand. These words take Tavris from the status of a Ph. D. in Sociological Psychology to an everyday person trying to make everyone understand her point. Goodman’s informal approach, “These messages that kids actually listen to ought to be piped into the hearing rooms where Congress is busy concocting a new welfare policy,” make it easier for her to connect with her audience. Welfare is an issue and an area of concern for many adults. The sarcastic, informal tone in Goodman’s words reflects the strength in her own belief and the belief she possess in the everyday citizen.
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Secondly, the audience trying to be reached by both writers’ is near the same age. Both appear to be trying to strike the age between 30 – 45 years old. “The principal had an immediate two word answer for her: ‘Shoot Madonna.’,” recorded Goodman. By using a modern sex symbol currently disliked by the American youth, Goodman embraces the old values held by some of the older people of America. She uses Madonna as a weapon for her battle, and by doing so appeals to the 30 – 45 year olds. Tavris notes the Rodney King incident which happened during the prime of current 30 – 45 year olds. “One of the things we find very appalling…is the image of at least 11 police officers watching four of their colleagues administers the savage beating and doing nothing to intervene.” Just as September 11th is a major event in the history for the current youthful generation, the Rodney King beating remains a momentous moment in time for the 30 - 45 year olds’. By choosing an event these adults can relate to, Tavris is connecting to her audience.
Pathos, the rhetoric appeal to emotion, is another aspect these two essays have in common. “Most people, if they observe some disaster or danger on their own- a woman being stabbed, a pedestrian slammed by a hit- and- run driver- will at least call for help…” declared Tavris. Pathos helps develop and support the authors’ messages. For Tavris, the anger apparent in her writing drives home her message members of the community need to be active in serious situations. Goodman states, “Let’s begin with some sexual truth-in-advertising: one part passion to two parts diapers….Try humming a few bars.” Goodman’s pathos is centered more towards humor. The satire provides an outlet for the frustration Goodman feels. It is ridiculous to her that the American media portrays these images to teenagers without providing the bad as well as the good. The satire strengthens the anger behind Goodman’s message.
In conclusion, the essays written by Goodman and Tavris are connected through their informal writing style, audience, and pathos. To show the comparison helps convey the message of Tavris, an individual in a group should take control and be responsible, as well as Goodman, the media should be more responsible about the correct and equal way showing the consequences of sex.