Sexist Language – How to Avoid Gender Inequality
We all are aware of the idiom, “add insult to injury.” Simply, it means to make a bad situation even worse for someone by doing something else to upset them. Sometimes, we say hurtful things on purpose and a lot of the time we say hurtful things then immediately want to shove our fist into our mouth. However, what if your person dictionary contained words or phrases that were sexist and extremely offensive, but you had no idea? There is such a thing called sexist language and there is a way to not use it.
Our society has come a long way when it comes to women’s rights; however, the battle is far from over. There are still plenty of ...view middle of the document...
Mann, O.N. maðr, Goth. manna "man"), from PIE base *man- (cf. Skt. manuh, Avestan manu-, O.C.S. mozi, Rus. muzh "man, male"). Sometimes connected to root *men- "to think" (see mind), which would make the ground sense of man "one who has intelligence," but not all linguists accept this. Liberman, for instance, writes, "Most probably man 'human being' is a secularized divine name" from Mannus, "believed to be the progenitor of the human race."
So, the imbalance now makes sense, right? Wrong. One way to speak more gender-neutrally is to take a look a social change and become part of that change. Looking back at the civil rights movement; there are offensive terms that have been eliminated and are frowned upon if used today. The same can happen with eliminating these sexist words and expressions. In fact, as Ananda Rady pointed out, “One of the most successful and enduring changes effected by the women’s liberation movement of the 60s thru 80s was the universal adoption of nonsexist language by governmental, business and educational institutions.” (Rady, 2007).
A major suggestion that was made was to substitute “-person” for “-man”. This brought upon the words: chairperson, spokesperson, salesperson, etc. As common as these words sound, there was much protest when they were introduced and to this day some of these suggested words are not used by certain individuals. Sometimes you will come across people that do not care and sometimes you will come across people (women) that rather use the word ending in “-man.” I like to be as neutral as possible and believe that the adoption of “-person” was a very smart move both politically and grammatically.
The aspect of sexism in language that caused the most controversy affected English grammar. When sexism was widespread in the language people were taught that sentences such as, “Each student must supply his own packed lunch” or “Each student is aware that he must hand in the essay today,” were absolutely fine, being grammatically accurate. Obviously, in such sentences the gender of the student was not specified and not relevant. These sentences eventually became, “Each student must supply their own packed lunch” and “Each student is aware that they must hand in their essay today,” even in school textbooks. (Kirkpatrick, 2011).
However, what goes up must come down and with the adoption of nonsexist language came more inconsistencies due to words that contain “-ess”, such as waitress. For some reason the world of theatre is undecided. A female who appears in a motion picture is sometimes referred to as an actor and sometimes as...