Essay About The Connection Between Gender And Language

1013 words - 4 pages

The English language is continually changing in order to meet the needs of the people using it. The ever-changing culture we live in affects the way language develops and the way it is used by different people in society. The ideology of a society is reflected in it´s use of language, and because children learn their values, assumptions and expectations from their parents and the words that they have to learn, this ideology is passed down from generation to generation. For centuries we have lived in a male-dominated society where language has been biased towards men. Men are viewed as being the superior sex and this is reinforced by the use of biased generic terms such as 'mankind´, which infact refers to the whole human race. Bias towards men is very often unconscious, thus demonstrating that sexist attitudes are fundamentally ingrained into our way of thinking.Sex is the biological categorization of people whereas gender is the interpreted identity that males and females choose to take on. Because language teaches individuals to behave in a certain way and describe the behavior of others in such as way that is appropriate for their sex, over time society has created stereotypical male and female gender identities. For example men are seen to be logical, rational and objective whereas woman are emotional, intuitive and subjective. This stereotyping has enabled society as a whole to become male-dominated and this is evident in language.These stereotypical attitudes and expectations are reinforced by sexist language, which is particularly used by men. Patronizing terms referring to women are ubiquitous in the English language, for example 'love´ and 'dear´. Female pronouns such as 'she´ and 'her´ are used to refer to inanimate objects and imply that men have some kind of ownership over women. In addition there are many insulting terms for women who are often compared to animals; 'cow´ and 'bitch´ are common, women are also portrayed as being promiscuous by use of terms such as 'slag´. Words referring to women generally have negative connotations whereas those referring to men are much more positive. For example men discuss and women gossip and chat, also men are forceful and masterful but women are described as being bossy and domineering.Gender difference is also demonstrated in the way that males and females interact with other during a conversational situation. It is a stereotyped belief that women talk a lot more than men, however in reality this is not the case as the trend is that in a mixed-sex conversation men talk twice as much as women. Women tend to take a much more co-operative approach during conversation, for example they make an effort to include others, use the first person plural more often and are much more willing to discuss issues raised by others. Whereas men are likely to interrupt more, ignore others and are reluctant to talk about topics introduced by other people,...

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