The words “marked” and “unmarked” are used several times in Deborah Tannen’s, “There Is No Unmarked Woman”. These two simple words hold very strong meanings throughout this essay. Tannen gives many examples of how women in today’s society are constantly being “marked”, whether they try to be or not, and how men are therefore “unmarked”. This essay analyzes the ways in which society judge’s women as being marked by their appearance, and how men can have the option to choose to be unmarked. Tannen realizes this as she sits in a conference, critically analyzing the appearance of the women in the meeting but not paying the same attention to the men. Even though there are eight men and only three women, she goes into deep detail of each individual woman and very little detail of the men. Tannen describes the women all the way from their hairstyles to the make up they are wearing, to the clothes they have on and the shoes on their feet. She describes the men as looking almost all the same, “unmarked”. Tannen uses many rhetorical devices so that the reader can understand how exactly women are marked in todays society. Even one of the women who dressed “plain” was considered to be marked, by choosing to dress simpler than the other women. This essay also ties in biological evidence to support Tannen’s theory that there is no unmarked woman, as well as argue that men can also be marked. By reading this essay, one can learn many different ways in which women are marked and scrutinized in todays society.
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