Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Ins and Outs of Gendered Language

I enjoyed Sheila McAuliffe's article and Mr. Robertson's presentation as they both forced me to think in a way that I previously did not. I never truly sat back and thought about gendered language, but after both the presentation and the article, I realized that I subconsciously pick up on it all the time. The amount of times in public that I have heard phrases like "be a gentleman and open the door for us?" or "be more ladylike" is too many to count. McAuliffe said that "these powerful gender differences in ways of talking often develop by age 3." We live in a society where the different genders are told what their stereotypical roles are (sometimes not intentionally) when they are just toddlers. I found it very interesting that when second graders wrote stories, "Girls' writing usually revolved around the norms of the community," while boys predominantly focused on contest. I then traveled back to my elementary days and realized just how true that was. When Mr. Robertson then showed us the sample stories from his sophomore class, and although it was more difficult, you could still distinguish most of them from boy and girl. After reading those stories and hearing everyone in the class agreeing with the distinguishing traits between a male's writing and a female's writing style, I questioned it, In my English class, we always read one another's poetry and narratives, and more times than not, the students do not comply to these "gender norms" of writing. Males, including myself, write about community. Females write about contests. It definitely is not a black and white thing, but people often think this way. It is frowned upon for a second grade boy to write about playing with his Barbie dolls instead of his GI Joe's. This also brings me to the whole double-standard between men and women, This is seen in different scenarios with both genders, like when Mr. Robertson said it isn't alright for a boy to bring a Hello Kitty lunchbox, but a girl can bring a spider man one. Another example is when it comes to sex, and how boys get praised for hooking up with a lot of girls, while girl's get slut shamed.

It was very surprising to me how we subconsciously make these gendered distinctions with our everyday language, and do so at a very young age. Girls are expected to act one way, while guys are expected to act the other. This isn't a black and white world, but our society often makes it out to be just that. We need to stop telling kids at such a young how they should act through the use of gendered language, and instead bring them up to be good people.

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