Is The English Language Sexist Essay

Sexism In Language Essay

Studies on the Use of Sexist Language and its Effects In recent decades the use of sexist, or gender specific language, has become an area of interest and of controversy among certain groups of people in society. The problem of sexism in society has been an issue throughout most of recorded history. Women in Western culture have consistently been limited and abused, and as a new generation of women fights to make changes, they have found that certain aspects of the English language create obstacles for them in gaining absolute equality with their male counterparts. Specifically, the use of gender-specific titles and of pseudogeneric pronouns forms the basis of sexist language that is in need of reform. In this paper, I will discuss some of the arguments for and against sexist-language reform, and the role sexist language has played on the problem of sexism in society.

Women in society have complained about unfairness toward their gender in many parts of the social arena, including job opportunities, career advancement, legal proceedings, right to equal representation, and sexual discrimination in general. Those fighting to correct these wrongs argue that sexist language perpetuates the problems they are striving to eradicate. By using a male specific pronoun to refer to both men and women generally, women argue that those who hear or read what is said or written think first of males, pulling males to the forefront of their minds and keeping women in their historically established place of inferiority. The difficulty that many feminists encounter is that the sexism in language that they want to change is a direct result of unfair sexist behavior toward women. In 1988, a study at Spaulding University in Louisville, Kentucky, groups of students were asked to evaluate sentences with language considered sexist toward women, while others were asked to evaluate sentences that would likewise be sexist toward men. Each group was asked to evaluate whether or not they found the statements sexist. The results of the study were that almost all of the participants in the first group judged the statements given to women to be sexist, while only two of the participants in the second group judged the statements given to men to be sexist. It seems that in the issue of sexism, there should be no distinction between sexist language toward men and sexist language toward women. The explanation for the difference lies in the history of the treatment of women versus the treatment of men. While men have generally been treated fairly and equitably throughout history, women have not. A similar pattern can be seen when one studies racist language. The existence of racist language, which is also an issue today, is because of the existence of racism throughout history. As language has...

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Essay on Sexism in Language

2512 Words11 Pages

Language refers to the method that humans use to communicate either through speech or written. It consists of the use of the word in a structured and conventional way. Language has been referred to as ‘our means of classifying and ordering the world; our means of manipulating reality. In structure and in its use we bring out the world into realisation and if it is inherently inaccurate, then we are misled. (Dale Spender, 1980).Language has power that allows us to make sense out of the reality we live in. Sexism is discrimination of a person based on their gender, especially on women. Sexism in language is the use of language which devalues members on one sex, almost always women, showing gender inequality. In the 1960/70’s there was a…show more content…

This is seen in two ways; the first is interpersonal interactions, and the second is representations of men and women in that are embedded in form and content of language. For example Cameron (1992) found that women are referred to by their first name as well as terms of endearment such as ‘love’ and ‘dear’. It shows that language and representations are closely linked and that language holds representation of ideas in clichés, epithets etc. It has also been represented that a women’s experience is systematically devalued in comparison to that of the male norm. Weitz (2003) has highlighted that throughout history women’s bodies have centrally affected the structures within which women live. Females are described as passive, for example Mother Nature. Objects such as cars and boats are mostly deemed female and temperamental and are also dominated by males. English language reflects the power that men have historically held in many areas of life. The sexist language against women shows them in lower social and economic status. An example of this is nouns ending in ‘ess’ e.g. waitress, stewardess, these are then seen as less significant than their male equivalents. This also applies to the suffix ‘ette’ this is giving feminine status to objects such as cigarette, this shows inferiority. Some studies have shown that individuals who do not believe in traditional sex stereotypical roles are less likely to write an educational essay using sexist language (McMinn, Lindsay,

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