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The effects of feminism in the english language

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Sam M.
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  1. Introduction
  2. Review
  3. Conclusion

During recent decades, feminist commentators have adopted a critical view of various aspects of the English language, arguing that in the English language and many sentence structures and models evolve around the male figure (http://plato.stanford.edu). Sexist language had been a significant concern of the feminist movement for many years, but it was only until the 1980's when the subject became the centre of a serious debate, due to the sensitive nature of the male bias contained in the English language (Tsehelska, 2006). The strong efforts of feminists during the 1970s seem to have generated this debate, as they insisted to blatantly denounce the many patriarchal aspects of the language, including use of male pronouns, professional occupation names, and many other elements of the English language that seems to be designed from a male point of view. The efforts of feminists during these decades, made a highly significant contribution to making people aware of the inadequacies and inequality that were intrinsically part of the English language. As Tsehelska pointed out, the ?importance of teaching EFL students politically correct English is no longer argued? (ibid.)

In this respect, the question that many commentators have asked themselves is, does this new politically correct language represent a usefully creative response to the gender inequality of the English language? Is it just overreacting feminist politically correct nonsense? (Jerz, 2011). To provide an answer to this question, this paper will look at the feminist efforts, outlining the main repercussions that adopting a gender-neutral
perspective has had in the English language. To do so, it will look at the background of the feminist battle to tackle the gender inequality that has been characteristic of the language for years, as well as looking at some aspects of the new politically correct English that has emerged during recent decades. This study will argue that the feminists efforts were not a
overreacting response to the patriarchal nature of English, but rather a necessary front of
opinion that ended with the sustained gender inequality of the language.

[...] King (1998) ?Gender-based language reform and the social construction of meaning?, in The Feminist Critique of Language, 2nd edition, Cameron, D. (ed.) New York: Routledge. Jerz, D. G. (2011) G ender-Neutral Language Tips: How to Avoid Biased Writing, Without Sounding Awkward Mills, S. (1995). Feminist Stylistics. Routledge. Spender, D. (1980). Man Made Language. Pandora. Spender, D. (1985). Man Made Language, 2nd edition, New York: Routledge Stannard, U. (1977). Mrs Man. Germain Books. Tsehelska, M. (2006) Teaching Politically Correct Language. Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Vol. 44. No. 1 UNESCO (1999) ?Guidelines on Gender-Neutral Language?. 3rd Edition. Paris: UNESCO. [...]


[...] As the experts have argued, a change in language does not necessarily imply a change in attitudes. Nevertheless, the adoption of a gender neutral language is still regarded by many commentators as senseless and overreacting, as commentators like (Jerz, 2011). The legal and social proposed in documents like the Declaration of Sentiments needs also a language that does not undermine or ignore women. This is what the politically correct language used today provides society. This language is undoubtedly the effort of feminists activists. [...]

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