Is language male biased?
September 20, 2006 4:04am CST
“The male hears in language only that which speaks in the masculine.” --Helene Cixous (French feminist) Feminists often contend that the language is made my men and hence they have all the advantage to use it as they will. The feminist struggle has been able to eveolve neutral words and also they have been successful in getting them included in the thesaurus and the dictionaries. But the bias prevails. Let us take the words wizard. It has good connotation but consider 'witch". Take master but what about the connotation of "mistress? There are hundreds of such words. Can we really eliminate them? I have another question: in Western countries there are surnames like Johnson, Patterson etc. Woemn too are known by their surnames as Mrs Patterson etc. How can they eliminate "son" from their name. Suppose instead of reacting to such words we just let them go? Probably, no one will notice that women are at a disadvantage. What would you say? Can you provide me with words that are neutral and words that have derogatory connotations when used for females like "Dog" "fox" etc.
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26 Oct 06
Don't forget those words that are gender-specific to women and women only, and somehow denote a lesser class, station, or reputation for women. The words sl*t, wh*re, nurse and maid come to mind. They are most definitely used as descriptive of a female person, and only ever applied to men when the qualifier "man/male" is used, like "man-wh*re" or "male nurse". I can't even think of what the "masculine version" of sl*t or maid is. And gigolo is considered "classy". As far a neutral words are concerned, I am often accused of being overly "PC" when I write for using words such as humankind or beings, or I am accused of folding to patriarchal pressures for using the word actor to describe both males and females in the industry. I must say that I am enjoying the "reclamation" of words such as d*ke and qu*er by the respective populations they were once used to degrade. I think this is the most appropriate and empowering way to reclaim our language, and redefine its meaning.