Reflection Nine – Arguing

 

My argument skills are legendary.

I’m not good at arguing all the time, of course. I’d lose in a fight against a lawyer or a doctor or a physicist (or a particularly skilled professor, like the ones I am taught by). But up against a bored teenager, I’d win every time. When I dive into a project, I’m damn sure going to pick a topic that I care about, because without the passion of an interest, my argument would fall flat, as others’ do. Every time I write, I write to convince my readers or a stance. Consciously or unconsciously, I am going to have you buy what I am selling, and you are going to walk away thinking that you got the better end of the deal. This is, to me, what marks the work of a truly good writer. If a reader were to finish something of mine and think, “That didn’t convince me of anything”, I haven’t done my job correctly.

That being said, I’d like to reevaluate my history project, because the comment of “I still didn’t see the significance of the Macy’s” is still niggling in my brain. But I see how this is a weakness that has circulated both my professor and I. Culturally, clothes are important to women and a little less important to men. I didn’t properly explain how the passing down of a store is similar to the passing down of a treasured watch or sport coat (or whatever else men wear), and this is why my argument suffered. I had looked at it all very one-sidedly, ignorantly believing that everyone would be taken with the idea that something as silly as a store would be important. If I could go back, I would restructure my reasoning by giving more user-friendly examples of what the Macy’s means to me and many other women. This may not have been something I had predicted being an issue in conveying my meaning to another reader, but looking back, I see how my argument was a little ethnocentric. I would work to make it less esoteric, and try to incorporate more of Toulmin’s methods of argument, and better explain my warrant of my claim that the Macy’s is significant, thereby providing the chain of reasoning that connects the grounds of my argument to the claim of it. My rebuttal was lacking, as well – I didn’t offer any sort of counterargument to then disagree with. I had never particularly liked the idea of rebuttals because it always felt a bit tasteless to me to add a sentence in like “Now, I know what you’re thinking, how can this be?” To play devil’s advocate in my own paper seemed less like a perfect paper and more like an “As Seen On TV” commercial, but now I realize that this could have bettered my paper and advanced my argument. By calling out the reader’s skepticism and putting this disbelief to rest, I could have supplemented my paper and done a better job convincing my readers to come back to my side.

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