Rhetorical devices

Allusion

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie makes several allusions in the TED talk “We Should All Be Feminists”. At the beginning of her speech, she alludes to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009:

In the recent US elections we kept hearing of the Lilly Ledbetter law, and if we go beyond the nicely alliterative name of that law, it was really about a man and a woman doing the same job, being equally qualified, and the man being paid more because he's a man.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 requires employers to make sure that they do not discriminate when it comes to paying decisions and helps employees who face payment discrimination file for compensation. In general, the law states that men and women should be compensated equally for work requiring the same skills. The allusion helps Adichie introduce the topic of gender roles and gender expectations in her speech, where she explains that society deliberately raises boys and girls differently.

Adichie also alludes to the Sosoliso Airlines plane which crashed after take-off from Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, in December 2005. The allusion helps Adichie pay homage to the Nigerian people who died in the crash, including one of her best childhood friends, who was the first to call her a feminist. 

Antithesis

Adichie generally uses antithesis when she wants to illustrate society’s contrasting views on men and women:

If a man is getting ready for a business meeting, he doesn't worry about looking too masculine and therefore not being taken for granted. If a woman has to get ready for a business meeting, she has to worry about looking too feminine and what it says ...

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