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Books on feminism/sexism and language

(11 Posts)
thatstoast Mon 10-Mar-14 16:49:12

I've been thinking about how the day to day language we use reinforces gender stereotypes and was wondering if anyone could recommended some books that deal with that topic.

As an example I was thinking about the order of words. I would always refer to mum and dad rather than saying dad and mum, thus placing mum as more important than dad. However you would always say Mr and Mrs rather than Mrs and Mr, so men take priority when discussed in outside of a care giving context. Any thoughts and examples would be welcome.

chaoshayley Mon 10-Mar-14 16:59:40

As a Modern Languages student, I've been thinking about this a lot recently, both in English (my native language) and the others that I study as part of my degree.

An English example off the top of my head would be the difference between the meanings of verbs 'to mother'/'to father': the first could mean to care for and perhaps be slightly overprotective of somebody, while the second generally means that you're only required for the moment of conception and can then immediately sod off.

thatstoast Mon 10-Mar-14 19:11:50

That's a good example as it's one that is unhelpful to both men and women.

It seems the relationship between the language we use and the world we live in is a chicken and egg situation. Which needs to change first to move towards a more equal society?

Chasinglemons Fri 14-Mar-14 12:56:27

Some mention of how certain words are linked to different stereotypes in 'the invention of bias' that I found an interesting read, and how word use continues to perpetuate stereotypes or lead people to believe certain jobs are not for them or lead to lower performance reviews

MorrisZapp Fri 14-Mar-14 12:57:33

I think the classic book on this is Man Made Language by Dale Spender.

slug Fri 14-Mar-14 13:05:14

Man made language

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Beatrixparty Sat 15-Mar-14 12:02:33

thatstoast Language is of course very important and very powerful - especially the English language. I'm not English but that's one hell of a language they have there.

So talking of language, I smile to myself when I see people using the expression 'chicken or the egg', as you did above, because it is not a mystery at all as to which came first, the answer is (of course) the egg. Animals were laying eggs well before birds evolved.

I see it more of an expression to mean a supposed problem that hasn't really been thought through enough.

No offence intended btw.

As to the issue that you likened to 'chicken and the egg' - sorry, I haven't the foggiest.


PolterGoose Sat 15-Mar-14 17:00:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DonkeySkin Sat 15-Mar-14 17:56:02

As others have mentioned, Man Made Language is an absolute classic.

This suggestion may be a bit OT, but there is an app called Jailbreak the Patriarchy that swaps the gender pronouns and every gendered term in everything written on the internet, instantly revealing the vast differences in the way we talk about men and women, and male and female behaviour.

Julia Penelope also wrote a great deal on language - this for one but I'm sure there are books.
Pretty much anything by Mary Daly examines the language we use.

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