• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Language and Gender.

Extracts from this document...


Language and Gender The idea that language can be used as an instrument of oppression is one that is held by many critics of varying focus who stress the fact that language is both an instrument of social constraint and a means of resisting that constraint. It is an issue deeply embedded in the literary theory of gender and sexuality, race and nationality, and even social class. The idea of feminist criticism, where language is identified as one of the means through which patriarchal values are both maintained and resisted. Feminists are concerned with two main ways in which they claim women are oppressed by language, the first of which is the idea of male dominated language. 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. ...read more.


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 syllabify (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. The supreme affability 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. ...read more.


Studies show that the reason women are more supportive and sympathetic is down to more cooperative game play as children, men are dominant because as young children games are focused on competition and confrontation. There is evidence that the language used to represent women has changed for the better in recent years. We no longer live in an andocentric society, as there as there are gender free words used in replacement of words relating to one gender. In the 70's words like s/he, humankind and chairperson were introduced so that words were not just male orientated. In the 80's the main thing to do was to avoid words with gender marking altogether. Like 'server' instead of 'waiter' or 'waitress'. There are certain words, which their meanings have changed making them more negative. Such as, 'mistress'. This used to be a word describing a housekeeper, whereas now it has gained a sexual connotation and is very rarely used to describe a housekeeper. Although steps towards change are being taken it is going to be a lengthy process and a long time before women become totally equal and this is reflected in our language. Ultimately it will be up to society to decide what is acceptable and it is the people who have the power to make the necessary changes. Emma Billsdon ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Language: Context, Genre & Frameworks section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Language: Context, Genre & Frameworks essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Class and Gender conflict in Pygmalion

    4 star(s)

    (Shaw, 2003:18) Thus the assumptions that are made with regards to the nature of humanity as it exists within hierarchical systems, should not involve the issues of morality and notions that set out to define the differences of human character that are stereotyped to each class.

  2. Investigation into Gender Differences in the Language of Personal Profiles on Dating Websites

    More males state that they have these characteristics on their profiles, possibly because they recognize they are desired in a partner by many women. Girls and Boys or Women and Men? Sexist language is language that reinforces and perpetuates gender stereotypes and inequalities between men and women.

  1. Refer closely to the literary and non-literary texts you have studied. Explore how gender ...

    Mr Collins proposes to Elizabeth Bennet on the advice given by Catherine de Bourgh. Elizabeth Bennet refuses this proposal however Mr Collins does not take her seriously. This is suggesting that it is in a mans decision of the person whom he shall marry.

  2. Language Investigation: Barack Obama Inaugural Address

    http://www.bartleby.com/124/ - for transcript of previous inauguration addresses. http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/16/unemployment.poll/index.html - for the opinion polls about what Americans are most concerned about. Appendix Barack Obama Inaugural Address My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

  1. Turn taking mechanisms in conversation.

    Where overlaps do occur they appear to do so for a number of reasons. Overlaps may occur where TRPs have been mis-projected or can be used as an intentional interruption. Most overlaps are examples of the former and are brief in nature.

  2. In what ways might language be used as an instrument of oppression?

    when referring to male Yahoos it seems that the term Yahoo by itself is enough. Thus, generic expressions can be ambiguous, for example, in the following paragraph taken from Part One of Gulliver's Travels: All crimes against the state are punished here with the utmost severity; but if the person

  1. Language and Sexuality throughout the Decades.

    I think the most distinct change in the 1970's was the onset of the independent woman. Women were viewed as independent and strong through their use of language, and their sexuality was expressed through that as well. The 1980's offered a variety of female characters.

  2. Language and Gender.

    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.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work