Article 1 Summary:   Sexism and the English Language: The Linguistic Implications

of Being a Woman

This article brings to light that by its structure, the English language is designed in a manner that is sexist towards women in general. It goes on to break down the various segments through which women are either discriminated upon or objectified in circumstances deemed normal by the current society. These segments are further split into two divisions, which are the sexualization of women and the trivialization of women.

The sexualization of women highlights that most, if not all terms in the English language that are used to refer to women, are objectified and given a sexual orientation, leading to the fact that one thinks of them in terms of sex objects whenever any of the terms assigned to them by the language is used. The trivialization of women, on the other hand, implies that the terms and phrases used to refer to women in the English language are often angled towards referring to them in a context that signifies immaturity, frivolousness and handicap, among others. The consequences depicted are that this nature of the English language not only reflects, but also reinforces the social values upon which society views and treats women.

Article II Summary: Why Sexist Language Matters

In this article, Sherryl Kleinman delves into trying to help her students understand the sexist language. Her emphasis is specifically based on the male generics that are common in the English language. These include such terms as the postman, man-made lakes, freshman, fraternity and so on. Upon conducting a number of social experiments involving her students among other students in her university, she makes an observation that even the feminine population prefers being addressed by such terms as ‘guys’ and ‘brothers’.

This observation leads to a clear conclusion that both sides of gender look up to the male gender as the more powerful of the two. To emphasize this point, it she suggested the introduction of gender sensitivity so that the women could be called either ‘sisters’, or have a socially acceptable term that involves both genders, for example ‘members’. The whole fraternity viewed this suggestion as very sarcastic, confirming that the current setting worked well for them, including the lady members in the fraternity, who were comfortable with being referred to as ‘brothers’ and ‘guys’. The explanation to this was that language has associated the male generic to positions of power and control in society, while feminine inclusions are deemed weak. This applies to both men and women.

Article III Summary: Gender Stereotyping in the English Language

In this article, Laurel Richardson brings out with clarity that in accordance with the English language, woman is part of man, not a separate entity altogether. The term ‘man’ is often used to refer to the whole collection of human beings, but often ends up visualizing a picture of a man every time it is used in a sentence. In addition to this, career attributes for women, an example being nurses and secretaries, are often assigned feminine pronouns, that is ‘she’, while those with male attributes like engineers and the president get a ‘he’. This is further emphasized by the sex ascription towards nonhuman objects, in that those presumed to be owned and controlled by men, e.g. nations are assigned the pronoun ‘she’, while those with utter power and control, e.g. God, are assigned a ‘he’. Most of these can be historically traced since the language progressively changes with time to adapt to the new inclinations of social and cultural norms.

The Role of Language as part of the Social Construction in Gender

Social construction in gender refers to the concept of jointly developing societal norms known to relate to gender. It uses key factors in society within the gender segment that are attributed towards inhibiting its growth and looks towards fixing them so that society can move forward with that regard. Language plays a key role here since, as aforementioned, it has singularly altered the way women are seen in society. This is the case considering language has been very influential in objectifying their roles and trivializing them to those of assistants and objects of pleasure, who need man’s support, lest they fall. By changing language, society will change the way men think of women, as well as the way women think of themselves. Only when they start viewing themselves in high regard, will they be viewed in the same light.

The Appropriate Theoretical Paradigm Interested in the Study of Language

The interactionism theory is the social study of individuals and their actions within society. Such a study would be the most interested in the study of language. This is because by studying society as a whole, one would be best placed to come up with the most effective methods of penetrating the target society. Once this is complete, those looking towards influencing the language within that society would then have to come up with the best strategies for effecting the paradigm shift in the English language.

The Impact of Gendered Language on the Lived Experiences of Women

The impact of gendered language could have wider effects than those aforementioned in the essay. It could well have been the reason Barrack Obama was chosen as the people’s favorite, as opposed to Hilary Clinton, who was almost equally as popular. This could be explained by the fact that Hilary was a woman fighting to enter a male-dominated profession. According to language, all presidents are referred to as ‘he’, which then points to the world that the president is supposed to be a man, as opposed to the other option, that was a woman.

 

 

References

Adams, K. L. & Norma, C. W. (1995) Sexism and the English Language: The Linguistic

Implications of Being a Woman. Institutions of Social Control. Mayfield Publishing Company.

Kleinman, S. (2002) Why Sexist Language Matters. Human Sciences Press, Inc.: Chapel Hill

Richardson, L. (1987) Gender Stereotyping in the English Language. New York: Random House

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