Represent men and women Essay
Represent men and women
Through the course of British history, the group in power has had control over communication. In this case and most it is the male gender that maintains control of communication, which is why there are many injustices in the English language towards the way that men and women are represented. There are language injustices towards gender, which include, forms of address, generics and derogatory terms as well as loaded language and gender based suffixes. Since we have simply inherited this sexist language instead of creating it, we should surely not be perpetuating ‘out-of date’ archaic language.
Many of these issues need to be addressed if we are to avoid gender stereotypes and maintain equality amongst both sexes. The issues can be noted in such minor parts of grammar such as pronouns but these are quite important in representing gender. A perfect example of this is in phrase “his and hers” (normally referring to something such as bath robes belonging to a couple). Here the masculine pronoun his is placed before the feminine pronoun. Many could say that this is sexist but it simply is due to the history of male domination in the English language.
This proves the Reflectionist model, which said that language was a symptom rather than a cause of social divisions. However, in some ways language could also be a cause of social divisions. This would only be the case after language was a symptom of Social divisions. For example, the female under-representation in language is caused by the male control (symptom). However, the language therefore makes women feel excluded (cause). Brooks (1983), Dayhoff (1983), Hyde (1984) all researched the reaction to the idea of the generic ‘he’, where the default assumption is that someone is male or masculine.
Their research suggests that men feel included and women feel excluded, in some cases alienated. The generic ‘he’ is the theory that ‘he’ has gained common usage through history. However, the common usage of this term can cause women to feel excluded by the term, men to feel subject to prejudicial treatment by language (i. e. when talking about criminals, drug-users etc), men to be seen as the standard by which we must assess everything (default assumption). Furthermore, gender stereotypes will carry on existing unless the generic ‘he’ and default assumption are changed to reach a more neutral standpoint.
This is why one has to specify when not following the default assumption, such as in the cases of male nurses and lady doctors. Mackay and Fulkerson also noted in 1979 that women rarely judged sentences, which contained the generic ‘he’ although they referred intentionally to women. This was even the case when the examples suggested female such as “a nurse must frequently help his patients out of bed. ” In some ways this suggests that many women have become accustomed to the idea of the generic ‘he’. However, one done a year earlier by Moulton, Robinson and Elias contradicted this research theory.
They asked a number of students to write brief stories about people mentioned in stimulus sentences. On some of the students they used a sentence containing the generic ‘he’ and on the others they used a sentence, which didn’t. They found that the ones who read the sentence containing the generic ‘he’ more often wrote about male characters than the others. However, when I performed this experiment along with my class we found no real difference. This original theory could be wrong, but I think that they have simply over-generalised since the effect of the generic ‘he’ can depend on the person or people in question.
What is important, however, is that the generic ‘he’ is offensive to both men and women and so it usage should therefore be restricted or prevented. Many believe that the best option should be too avoid offence by not using single sex terms where necessary and try to be politically correct towards language representation. However, although political correctness is intended to be polite and respectful it can seem to be parodic and often hyperbolic. Thus, there are often mockeries of politically correct language, which suggest that some people are unwilling to inherit it.
For example, sometimes words such as camerawoman deliverywoman are used in order to seem politically correct. Unfortunately, both seem humorous as the syllabacy (in the case of deliverywoman) or the usage (in the case of camerawoman) seems unusual and slightly ridiculous. People have become so familiar with the use of ‘-man’ on the end of many words that it is pronounced as m(a)n instead of m(ae)n. Subsequently, some people believe that ‘-man’ is a suffix and not a word because of the change in pronunciation.
For many this is why ‘-woman’ sounds inappropriate as ‘-man’ has had a pronounced change to form a suffix whereas ‘-woman’ is already said as wom(a)n so it will be harder for it to change in to a suffix. This seems to be why the feminine suffixes ‘-ess’ and ‘-ette’ as in actress and usherette. However, these sort of terms can seem derogatory and diminutive because they are following the generic ‘he’ and therefore have to create feminine term for such unisex occupations as actors, ushers and authors. Surely, the first male term should be kept and applied to both sexes.
Some professions already have a universal name such as in the case of Doctors and writers although when describing a female in one of these professions, some may say lady doctors or women writers. There are also the odd occasions when ‘man’ is a prefix such as in mankind. In reality this word should be adapted to humankind to maintain a neutral meaning Furthermore, it is important to use neutral words in this society to maintain equality between the two sexes. Therefore, words such as chairman should be changed to chairperson or chairholder and fireman should be changed to fire fighter.
The supreme effability principle states that language can convey any thought or meaning, which humans may want to communicate. This is why vocabulary is constantly being developed to reflect new ideas advances. This would mean that people would begin to use more neutral words and phrases as the stress for gender equality continues in modern society. This idea of course feeds back to Edward Sapir and Franz Boas Reflectionist model in that the language will become more neutral towards gender as society does.
However, forms of address still seem to be archaic in modern day society and only recently have people attempted to rectify it. For example, the female title Ms was introduced quite recently to create a female term with the same semantics as the male equivalent Mr. Before the creation of this word, women had to use the terms Mrs or miss. These would signify the woman’s marital which was unfair when the men only had one single term so they could hide their own marital status. So, the phrase “Mr and Mrs” is pejorative to the woman, as they have to show their marital status yet their husband does not.
An alternative to this phrase would be “Mr and Ms”. The phrase “ladies and gentlemen” is also unjust as it refers to women in a neutral way and men in a complimentary, hyperbolic way. To combat this an alternative would be “Lords and ladies” or something to a similar effect. The couplet of words “master and mistress” used to have equal meanings when established but now the masculine word ‘master’ has developed connotations of power and control (this explains the verb ‘to master’) whereas the feminine word ‘mistress’ has had a semantic change and developed sexual connotations.
This phrase should simply be avoided since it has been used for centuries and will soon be archaic as the meanings of the two words are so different. As Shirley and Edwin Ardener researched, the male gender have been in a position of power and so have developed injustices in the English language such as the abundance of words describing which have sexual connotations. D. Bolinger did a test to compare the connotations of words that described men and women.
I followed this idea and found out that about 50% of the words chosen for women had sexual connotations whereas it was only about 25% for men. Words like ‘slut’ ‘tart’ ‘babe’ were copious in the list of words describing women This shows that women’s sexuality is over-represented in language whereas forms of address for women are seriously limited On the other hand men’s sexuality is under-represented in language whereas forms of address for men are almost over-represented. This is all due to the fact men held the power to control language through English history.
In truth more words with positive connotations will begin to spring up which describe women as the weight of equality shifts to the middle. However, part of the reason that there are still so many words describing women’s sexuality is because the media still include many derogatory terms relating to women’s sexuality. The television, radio, newspapers, films and magazines still include the sexuality of women since it includes loaded language relating to sex that interests the public.
On the other hand, newspapers should avoid infanticization by using derogatory terms like “sex kitten” when describing women. This seems to unjust since these types of terms would not be used on men since these terms fit the female stereotype. They are normally infanticizing diminutives, which also have sexual connotations. Furthermore, less words describing men as the dominant sex should be used and newspapers should avoid using words describing men’s sexuality that are almost complimentary such as “a stud”.
English language does have many gender injustices, according to forms of address, affixes, pronouns and generic descriptions. These all have words that portray men in a more positive light than women. However, unlike most other romance languages, English is far more neutral in the fact that words do not have gender. This means words cannot be associated with a certain gender only their meaning can. Furthermore, most of the problems can be easily fixed as the language evolves.
Subject: Women and men,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 July 2017
Let us write you a custom essay sample on Represent men and women
for only $16.38 $13.9/page