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Sexism In Language Essay

1207 words - 5 pages

(Rationale)Several words in the English language, in fact all languages, have distinct connotations for the different sexes whether positive or negative, of which the negative normally refer to the female or homosexual male counterpart, suggesting their inferiority to the "MAN".What is sexism in language, you may ask?"Sexism in language is the use of language which devalues members of one sex, most invariably women and thus fosters gender inequality. It discriminates against women by rendering them invisible or trivializing them at the same time that it perpetuates notions of male supremacy" (taken from: http://www.upou.org/gender/gender_fair.htm ).The degradation of women (and men) through even our word usage had an impact on our visions of society and the values and ethnic meanings that are set. These ideals put in place, influence our children who are submitted to the biases and discriminatory characteristics of the languages, to the point that we no longer realize when our statements are not gender neutral.For example, the meaning of the word 'man', which was representative of both sexes, has been narrowed to separate the two, rendering the English language more gender specific. This sexual stereotype is seen throughout languages, especially with the names given to certain careers which imply that they are only suitable for the 'professional male', for example, congressman, or merely appropriate for the low paid insignificant other (female or male), housemaid.I have chosen to study this topic because of its growing concern in society, as more persons have realized its offensive presence and importance and try to use more gender neutral language.Though mention is made of homosexuals, this project is intended to focus mainly on the female aspect of sexism in language, not intending to be biased toward other individual groups in society.LITERATURE REVIEWLanguage normally uses male pronouns automatically whenever the gender of a person is unknown. For example, "Every child must obey his parents." This use of language is sexist and shows how women are habitually linguistically invisible, being hidden behind the more frequently used 'he', 'him', or 'his,' constantly suggesting male dominance and supremacy.This is of course not the only occurrence when we falter in noticing the absence of the due gratification of women. In non-gender specific terms like lawyer and judge, images of a strong male figure are brought to mind.Also with words such as aggressive, if used to describe the behaviour of a woman, it is thought to be unbecoming, for "a lady should be seen and not heard". Whereas, for a man, he is duly considered to be an aspirer. Even one of our present day politicians, Senator Barack Obama, has been accused of his language use from the following statement;Quote,"You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out"End quote.His use of the word 'claws', clearly shows his direct negative criticism and discrimination against Senator Hilary...

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