chapter  C
In the Political Arena
Pages 66

Within these comments lies a summary of how the women's movement leaders tried to present the defeat to the women's movement supporters: although failure of the ERA would be seen by the public and the opposition as the end of the

women's movement, the movement would survive; but it would make significant progress only if it identified and rectified what­ ever had gone wrong in the ratification effort. This essay focuses on how the women's movement leaders dealt rhetorically with their belief that conservatives were responsible for loss of the ERA. Two questions guide the essay. First, what role have the women's movement leaders attributed to the conservative move­ ment concerning feminist goals, especially the ERA? Second, does discourse from the women's movement leaders suggest any changes in movement focus that can be correlated with conservative influence? A rhetorical analysis using Kenneth Burke's dramatistic scheme of hierarchy /o rder, guilt from pollution, purification through scapegoating and victimage, and redemption provides a useful organizing narrative for under­ standing leader responses to defeat of the ERA. Burke claims that an understanding of human motives that drive us to "perfect" our "nature" begins in "dramatistic terms" (p. 274). Leland Griffin suggests that the progress of an entire movement can be fit within Burke's dramatistic theory of guilt, victimage, and redemption, arguing that all movements are "essentially political" and "essentially m oral" (p. 465). "To study a movement," Griffin explains, "is to study a striving for salvation, a struggle for perfection, a progress toward the 'good .'" Movement supporters "begin with guilt and the dream of salvation. They end with the achievement, and maintenance, of a state of redemption" (Griffin, pp. 460-461). Progress toward redemption involves human desire for order, or the "reign of reason and justice" (Griffin, p. 458). Although Griffin has focused on the movement as a whole, the scheme is also useful for examining a "moment" in the movement in which leaders attempt to re-focus supporters' attention. By cleansing supporters of guilt for a failure through scapegoating another group, leaders not only help supporters redeem their behavior but also help them discover renewed focus and energy to pursue other goals.