“There Is No Unmarked Woman” By: Deborah Tannen Essay Analysis
Who are you? Are you a unique individual? Does your appearance really reflect you? Deborah Tannen’s “There Is No Unmarked Woman” exemplifies how normal it is in this society for women to be superficially judged and “marked” on the basis of appearance. This is in contrast to men, who are given the social option to remain incomparably “unmarked” by attire. Tannen uses two specific term throughout her entire essay, marked and unmarked.
Tannen analyzes our society’s peculiarity of judging women based on their appearance but not judging men based on the same circumstances throughout her essay. Tannen points out, everything a woman wears and her appearance “marks” her about while in contrast, men, can remain “unmarked” by choosing the standard regulation of dress and appearance. The appearances of these individuals are presented through the use of tone, diction, imagery, characterization and allusion.Tannen’s use of all these rhetorical devices provides the reader with a visual of the conference.
Tannen uses an allusion of her being at a conference consisting of four women (including her) and eight men. Tannen’s use of imagery and characterization when the describing the individuals gave the reader a clear, descriptive picture of each of the individual’s appearance. “There Is No Unmarked Woman” is mainly focused on the other three women at the conference despite the fact that there was double the amount of men there. Tannen vividly described the three woman down to the last detail. From the way their clothes fitted their body to the last crinkle in their hair. She exemplified on the uniqueness of each woman and how each of them is “marked” based on their appearance.
Each woman at the conference had a different style of dress, hair, make up and jewelry. Tannen said that these differentiated styles could not be “standard” and these unique appearances “mark” the women. Tannen shows how all eight of the men were remarkable in their unified plainness. She said that they wore light shirt with dark pants and shoes. Their haircuts were nothing unique. They were “standard”. In continuation, according to Tannen, for women there is no unmarked style, all styles even no style holds some sort of assumption. Even filling out a form gives a woman’s personal point of view. Like when they use “Miss”, “Mrs.” and “Ms.” It tells whether they are single, have been married, or refuse to tell either way. While with men, there are no questions to be asked because of the “Mr.” In quote, Tannen says that “It is sad that women don’t have the freedom to be unmarked like men.” Encompassing all of the author’s literary approaches and use of imagery, you are able to “hear” a voice, a tone in the essay. Tannen however has two tones within her essay. A feeling of compassion, modesty and liveliness is felt as Tannen describes the women despite her swayed mood at times. As Tannen is describing the men, her tone condescended. Her voice felt as if it when bitter and cold. There was no expression of voice when describing men. Her tone showed that she was in favor of women or men which depicted or “marked” her as a feminist and a “male-basher”. In this essay, it was very clear throughout the essay that Tannen’s main point was that women are constantly marked no matter what their choice. Whether it is what they wear or what they talk about a woman is marked. Being a woman is like living in a fishbowl where everyone can see you and they are all taking notes.