FEMINISM AND THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Being an English instructress at BSU, Alangilan Campus, I always include in my topic in English 100 class, the discriminatory language and inject to my students’ mind that language can be used to discriminate against individuals and groups on the basis of their sex. Using non-discriminatory language does not involve the conscious learning of a new language in order to communicate; this is due to the fact that people continually learn new words, expressions and constructions. Language is dynamic and reflects changes in society and contributes to such changes. Using non-discriminatory language is, of course, a part of this dynamic process.
Does it merely let us know that there is no such thing as a female writer? The use of he as a pronoun for nouns embracing both genders is simple and practical convection rooted in the beginnings of English language. He has lost all suggestion of maleness in these circumstances. The word was unquestionably biased to begin with (the dominant male), but after seemingly indispensable. It has no pejorative connotations; it is never incorrect.
A language critic elucidates, “Why should I worry about feminist ideology while I write? Why should I worry about anyone’s ideology? Writing is a tricky business that requires one’s whole concentration, as any professional will tell you; as no doubt you know anyway. We have accepted, implicitly, a hit-and-run vandalizing of English—the richest, most expensive language in the world. Languages such as French are shape and guided by official boards of big shots. But English used to be a language of the people, by the people, for the people.
Sexist language is language that favours one sex and treats the other sex in a discriminatory manner. In many cases, it favours men and goes against women. In language, men are considered the “rule” for the human species, that is to say, their characteristics, thoughts, beliefs and actions are seen as representing those of all humans, male and female. This practice can make women imperceptible in language or exclude them. The linguistic status of women often depends on the status of men. Being women in a dependent, subordinate position, sexist language prevents women and men from being shown as equal human beings.
Common forms of sexism in English include the use of “man” and “he / him / his” as generics—that is to say, nouns and pronouns referring to both men and women—the use of suffixes -man, -ette, -ess, -trix in occupational nouns and job titles, asymmetrical naming practices, and stereotyped images of women and men as well as descriptions of (mainly) women which denigrate them and their status. It is recommended that women should be more evident and visible in language by avoiding the use of “male-oriented” words in the generic sense.
Occupational nouns and job titles ending in -man reduce the presence of women in such professions and positions. There are various strategies for replacing -man compounds. For example, the use of an existing gender-neutral term (police officer instead of policeman), or of the -person alternative (layperson instead of layman) or the explicit naming of both sexes (sportsmen and women instead of sportsmen) are some of the possibilities. It is, of course, acceptable to use the -man compound to refer to a man occupying the position if a woman in such a position is referred to by a -woman compound (spokeswoman for a woman and spokesman for a man). However, the practice of referring to a man by means of the –man compound and to a woman by means of the -person compound is discriminatory. Examples are in this table.
man (generic sense) humans, human race,
human species, humanity, humankind or
women and men, person(s), man and
woman, individual(s), people(s), etc.
businessman business executive, business manager,
business owner, business person,
entrepreneur, financier, investor, proprietor
leader, moderator, person chairing a meeting,
person in the chair, president,
laymen laypeople, laypersons, lay community, laity
salesman sales agent, sales associate, sales attendant,
sales person, sales representative,
sales worker, shop assistant, shop attendant
These are the examples of my lessons on how to empower women in terms of the use of language. Discriminatory language ‘puts people down’ and its use should not be tolerated. This is because the use of discriminatory language contributes to the unequal social status of women. Women should be shown as participating equally with men. WHY”? BECAUSE WOMEN DO NOT DESERVE THAT BECAUSE:
• Women’s intonational contours and the use of gestures and tone of voice display more variety than men’s.
• Women use figurative language such as figures of speech, idioms, euphemisms and denotation and connotation more than men. This makes the form of expression artistic, not run-of-the-mill and lovely form of language.
Women’s four major skills such as (listening, speaking, reading and writing) are quite better than men because they intend to use correct and acceptable form of language.
• Women’s communicative style tends to be caring and polite that men’s.
These are the elements that I tremendously notice in the communication style of men and women. Yes, to a lesser or higher degree, the damage can be undone to our mother tongue. Apparently, mother means female identity. This simply means that women should be taken seriously as equally as men for both gender complement each other. Need I say more, people should not downgrade women for they are great too….