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Gender Bias in Language

Uploaded by Admin on Dec 08, 1999

Language is a very powerful element. It is the most common method of communication. Yet it is often misunderstood an misinterpreted, for language is a very complicated mechanism with a great deal of nuance. There are times when in conversation with another individual, that we must take into account the person's linguistic genealogy. There are people who use language that would be considered prejudicial or biased in use. But the question that is raised is in regard to language usage: is the language the cause of the bias or is it reflective of the preexisting bias that the user holds? There are those who believe that the language that we use in day-to-day conversation is biased in and of itself. They feel that the term mailman, for example, is one that excludes women mail carriers. Then there are those who feel that language is a reflection of the prejudices that people have within themselves. That is to say that the words that people choose to use in conversation denote the bias that they harbor within their own existence. There are words in the English language that are existing or have existed (some of them have changed with the new wave of "political correctness" coming about) that have inherently been sexually biased against women. For example, the person who investigates reported complaints (as from consumers or students), reports findings, and helps to achieve equitable settlements is ombudsman (Merriam Webster Dictionary) (Ombudsperson here at Indiana State University). This is an example of the gender bias that exists in the English language. The language is arranged so that men are identified with glorified and exalted positions, and women are identified with more service-oriented positions in which they are being dominated and instructed by men. So the language used to convey this type of male supremacy is generally reflecting the honored position of the male and the subservience of the female. Even in relationships, the male in the home is often referred to as the "man of the house," even if it is a 4-year-old-child. It is highly insulting to say that a 4-year-old male, based solely on his gender, is more qualified and capable of conducting the business and affairs of the home than his possibly well-educated, highly intellectual mother. There is a definite disparity in that situation. In American culture, a woman is valued for the attractiveness of her body, while a...

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Uploaded by:   Admin

Date:   12/08/1999

Category:   Miscellaneous

Length:   5 pages (1,128 words)

Views:   2556

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