Communication Studies


Master of Arts (MA)


Michael P. Graves

Primary Subject Area

Sociology, General; Psychology, General; Psychology, Social; Women's Studies


Clothing, Gender-neutral clothing, Ideological criticism, Meaning making, Perception, Rhetoric


Communication | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Psychology | Social Psychology and Interaction | Women's Studies


The fields of psychology and sociology have long understood the importance of clothing in self-formation, this study extrapolates this social-science understanding into the realm of rhetorical analysis. This study looks at gender-neutral clothing and its role in meaning making and self identification for women. With a rhetorical basis from Richards and Ogden, this research uses the feminist works of Brummett and Butler to uncover both the positive and negatives effects of gender-neutral clothing on a woman's self-identification and perceptions. Through the presentation of a diffuse narrative and evaluation of the same, gender-neutral clothing is read and decoded for meaning. This research shows that meanings from gender-neutral clothing are inherently perception based and calls for better personal and corporate understanding of perception in meaning making and evaluation.