Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, English and Literary Arts

First Advisor

Douglas Hesse

Second Advisor

Hava Gordon

Third Advisor

Tayana Hardin

Fourth Advisor

Juli Parrish


Feminist standpoint theory, Kenneth Burke, Language, Military, Rhetoric and theory, Sexual assault prevention


Joining the expanding discourse surrounding language and its effects, specifically regarding the performance of gender in a hypermasculine environment, this dissertation offers a rhetorical analysis of the United States Department of Defense's sexual assault prevention and response training materials, particularly posters created between 2009 and 2012. This dissertation examines the context of sexual harassment and assault within the military from the late 1970s until the mid-2000s. Presenting scandals that led up to the development of the Department's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program, I give a brief history of the establishment and scope of responsibility for the program in its infancy. Next, I define the intent of rhetorical analysis and partner two theories, Feminist Standpoint Theory as well as Kenneth Burke's theory concerning language semiotics and the dialectical "pentad," as frameworks to examine the specific set of military training materials. I detail the ways in which women's service in the military has a history of rhetorical control from both the Defense Department (formerly the "War Department") and society, at large. Subsequently, this dissertation contends that the language used within the military context provides further rhetorical control of how women are accepted into the organization. I explain how the images (advertisements), language, and rhetorical strategies from the SAPR program potentially affect views of gender and implications on the military's stance on sexual assault for the more than 2.3 million women and men who serve on Active Duty, Guard, Reserve, and Civilian status. I conclude by providing my own career experiences from the standpoint of a female Lieutenant Colonel with 23 years of active duty service in the United States Air Force to offer a practical, real-time feminist standpoint perspective.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Nancy Thurman Clemens


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

219 pgs


Rhetoric, Gender studies, Organization theory