One of the most important political and social movements of the twentieth century has been the drive towards achieving complete equality for all people regardless of race, color, class, gender identity, mental state or physical impairment. One area that has remained resistant to change is language. While it is has been widely accepted that some aspects of language are clearly sexist, for example the use of he' as a genderless pronoun (Cameron 1998, Wardaugh 1992, Pauwels 1998), there is still argument as to whether or not changing these forms of language is necessary. Some claim that the use of "politically correct" terms is not only unnecessary but disempowering (Jernigan 1994) because it forces a group of people to refer to themselves by a term that was invented by people who are not of their group.
[...] London: Routledge Cameron, D. (1998). The Feminist Critique of Language. London: Routledge. Escalas, M.M. (2001). Being Politically Correct. http://condor.stcloud.msus.edu/~scogdill/339/polcor.html#vocabulary Finegan, E., Besnier, N. (1989). Language: Its Structure and Use. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt [...]
[...] Conclusion In conclusion sexist language is real, widespread, subtle and damaging. Combating it is not a simple issue and change will be slow but there are many ways of fighting it and advances are being made. As long as awareness of the problem continues to grow and the issues become clearer progress will be made until eventually equality in both society and language will be reached. Bibliography: Bodine, A. Androcentrism in Prescriptive Grammar. In Cameron, D. (Ed). The Feminist Critique of Language. [...]
[...] If this happened then there would be no problem of “offensiveness” as Escala says because women wouldn't be reading the offending articles anyway and women would no longer feel bad about sexist language as Valian says because they would not know that such a concept existed. This argument is obviously not proposed as a serious answer to the problem (one could expect to have a brick thrown through one's car window very soon if it were). However it does serve to illustrate that there is an important aspect of sexist language that is being ignored by Escala and Valian and others who think as they do. [...]
[...] hundred thousand words from children's schoolbooks and found that “male pronouns outnumbered female ones by almost four to one.” It was further found that this was not wholly due to the use of the masculine pronoun as a generic: percent of the uses of ‘he' referred male humans or animals, or to persons presumed to be male” (the examples he cites are sailors and farmers). What this suggests is that not only are male pronouns used as generics, as would be expected, but also that writers tend to write about males more often than females. [...]
[...] Pauwels (1998) promotes several strategies for changing sexist language she calls these: "Causing linguistic disruption", "Creating a woman-centred language", "gender neutralization" and "feminisation". These four approaches are very interesting and definitely require investigation. What Pauwels means by "causing linguistic disruption" is simply calling attention to the inequalities in the language. By writing articles or novels or simply by talking to people about these issues one can raise awareness. This strategy is particularly effective in languages like French where all nouns are gendered. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee