Essay on Gender Bias in Language

Essay on Gender Bias in Language

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As a society evolves and changes, its language mutates and conforms to changing needs. Words form to define new things, archaic terms drop from use, and meanings change as different usages develop. The English language is grammatically neutral in classifying objects by sex. It is unusual among Indo-European languages in that it does not impose gender on inanimate objects. One might think that freedom from arbitrarily enforced gender would provide a clear and impartial palette for blending mere words into meaningful communication, to the contentment of all. One would be wrong. Perhaps he would be mistaken. Possibly, she would be erroneous. Perchance, they would be wide of the mark. The dilemma of gender-bias appeared in the nineteenth century and is inseparable from the social activism of the period.
Beginning in the nineteenth century, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, western civilization began the slow march toward egalitarianism, and the language amiably conformed. Women gained access to a wider variety of educational and vocational opportunities and have since progressively entered an expanding variety of nontraditional roles in society. One natural result of knowledge is clarity. As the state of oppression became clear, womankind began a campaign to end gender discrimination, in word as well as action. Feminism, coined in 1851 gave the movement for women’s equality a name. The continually multiplying list of vocations of positions in business, and politics profoundly affected interpersonal vernacular. Customary references to women began acquiring less desirable connotations. Lady and madam, for example, long used as honorific titles or to describe a woman of high birth or particularly good manners, became synonym...


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... 2014.
Prosenjak, Nancy, Mary Harmon, Sue Johnson, Pat Bloodgood, and Lisa Hazlett. " Guidelines for Gender-Fair Use of Language." National Council of Teachers of English. NCTE, n.d. Web. 24 Mar 2014.
Sadker, Myra, and David Sadker. Failing at Fairness: How America's Schools Cheat Girls. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2010. 13 April 2014 .
Teneva, Sylvia. "Gender Bias." Forum For Across Curriculum Teaching. FACTWorld, 30 09 2011. Web. 16 Mar 2014.
Twenge, Jean, W Campbell, and Brittany Gentile. "Male and Female Pronoun Use in U.S. Books Reflects Women's Status, 1900-2008." Sex Roles. 67.9.10 (2012): 488-493. Web. 6 Apr. 2014. .
Vetterling-Braggin, Mary. Sexist Language: A Modern Philosophical Analysis. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981. Print.

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