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Does language used in literature and media embrace gender stereotypes?

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  • Essay length: 2005 words
  • Submitted: 24/04/2006
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AS and A Level A Street Car Named Desire

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Does language used in literature and media embrace gender stereotypes?

Language within our history and modern day societies and cultures plays a significant part in gender stereotypes in literature and media in the 21st century.

There are many derogatory terms used towards women such as 'bitch', 'housewife', 'cow' and 'wench' whereas these terms wouldn't be used to describe men and there are no male equivalents to these derogatory terms. In 1970, a US feminist tract 'The Bitch Manifesto' attempted to rehabilitate the word 'bitch' claiming that it is used to put down women who refuse to accept male domination. The argument was 'John may think Mary is a bitch because she is aggressive but since he would praise the same quality in James, his use of the word bitch is in fact a compliment'. This kind of linguistic reform ignores the intention of the speaker: when John calls Mary a bitch it is not a compliment. Bitchiness is regarded as a negative female trait and a sign of effeminacy in any male. Speakers are now often hesitant to call a female dog a bitch because they fear they may be insulting the dog.

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