Undue burdens: the Black woman subject in June Medical Services LLC. V. Russo : and, “Will you test your strength out on me?”: comic disruptions and the rhetorical memoir

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Morgan Ellen Carter (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Nancy Myers

Abstract: Examining the US Supreme Court case June Medical Services LLC V. Russo, I draw on the complicated trajectory of Louisiana law and Alexander Weheliye’s theorization of the assemblage of the nonhuman to argue that Black women in Louisiana face particular legal barriers and forms of criminalization that speak to a longer history of rendering Black women’s bodies as simultaneously invisible and hypervisible. By emphasizing the impossibility of a Black female subject in the legal imaginary, I critique the positioning of Act 620, a law that would refuse abortion providers to practice without having admitting privileges to a hospital within thirty miles of the location of the procedure, which would result in the reduction of abortion providers in Louisiana to only one. I use the historical and contemporary legal legacy of the state to enact rhetorical practices of invisibility and hypervisibility to both criminalize Black women as well as refuse or create obstacles to a multitude of social services. I highlight how the particular Russo Supreme Court case is part of a larger trajectory and history of refusing Black women legal subjecthood through individualist and paternalist rhetoric, which both shapes and takes place in law and its enforcement. AND I look at six pieces by comedians, three stand-up specials and three memoirs, to examine comedy as a form of rhetorical response that emerges from a situation that is rooted in personal, embodied experience. I critique Lloyd F. Bitzer’s and Richard E. Vatz’s oppositional writing on the rhetorical situation and its being rooted in either a distant, generalized event or the language used to articulate such an event as the primary factors in eliciting a response. Instead, I privilege Jacqueline Jones Royster’s intervention on the tension between “subject matter” and “subjectivity” as well as Sarah Ahmed’s work on phenomenology to assert that when bodies that make up and are directly implicated in events or situations become those that speak on and address them, another form of rhetorical agency is possible. Looking at comedians who are women of color and/or queer, I illustrate how stand-up comedy, when performed by Other bodies, is an accessible and strategic means of persuasion as well as enacting change on both a personal and social level.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
Black Women, Comedy, Louisiana Law
Abortion services $x Law and legislation $z Louisiana
Women, Black $z Louisiana $x Social conditions
Disparate impact (Law) $z Louisiana
Women comedians
Rhetoric $x Social aspects

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