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"The English language systematically degrades and devalues women". Do you agree with this statement?

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"The English language systematically degrades and devalues women". Do you agree with this statement? It is often argued that the English language needs to be modernised to keep pace with the rapidly changing societies in the world. One reason for this is many words and their usages are viewed as sexist, in that they are discriminating against individuals based on their gender. In this essay, I shall discuss many factors relevant to the argument that the English language systematically degrades and devalues women. One possible argument in agreement with this statement is that male words and their female equivalents are often asymmetrical in their connotations and implications. For example, pairs of words such as 'bachelor' and 'spinster', have distinctively different associations: 'spinster' has relatively negative undertones, and conjures the image of an aging woman with a dull lifestyle, whereas the word 'bachelor' suggests a more carefree, younger man with an exciting and enjoyable way of life. This inconsistency in the English language is hard to rectify, considering it is not the dictionary definition that needs altering, but the associations society as a whole has with these words. ...read more.


Another illustration of how the English language devalues women more than it does men is that there is a vast amount of insulting lexical usages for females, often with no equivalents for males, and usually with increased negative connotations compared to the insults aimed at males. For example, there are innumerable sexual insults such as 'whore', 'slag' and 'slut' that portray the view that women are sex objects. Lexis that denotes a man's sexual lifestyle are incontestably more positive in general, for example 'stud', 'player' and 'Casanova'. The idea that women are less significant than men is conveyed in the large variety of insults directed at women that compare them to animals: 'cow', 'dog', and 'bitch' are merely a few examples. The English language still seems to testify to archaic opinions of women when they were viewed as 'belonging' to men. Patronising terms, including 'darling', 'babe' and 'sweetheart' are generally more widespread for describing women rather than men, and the English language is sometimes criticised for this fact. However, others may argue that these terms can be applied to both genders, and semantically suggest sentiments of endearment rather than patronisation. ...read more.


This imbalanced feature of the English language seems to be derogatory towards females and complimentary to males. Combined with the other arguments I have raised, it can easily be argued that English systematically degrades and devalues women. In conclusion, I believe that many features of the English language do degrade females, and the problem lies with the fact most of us do not realise we are using sexist lexis, terminology and phraseology because they are so firmly embedded in the everyday language used by society. However, the 'politically-correct' era is dawning on Britain at present, and the public is becoming more aware of sexist speech as well as lexis that discriminates other groups of people. Gender-specific words are being discouraged by Government campaigns, even altering the curriculum so that young children are taught to refer to 'police officers' and 'firefighters' instead of 'policemen' and 'firemen'. However, society is not prepared to change radically, as some feminist groups that tried to introduce vocabulary entirely unspecific to gender have discovered. Lexis such as 'womyn' to replace 'women', and 'herstory' to replace 'history' are widely unaccepted as part of the English language, and this is unlikely to change in the near future. ...read more.

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