Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gender in Language

If you took anything away from Mr. Robertson talk Monday night, it was that his lesson is to be aware, be aware of the message and reinforcement. His talk was about the difference between gender and sex. Gender being your role in society and sex being biological. We all grew up and learned from our parents the way we should act and how we should dress based on the gender we were born with. As little girls, parents would dress them in dresses with bows or barrettes on our heads that made us look adorable. As little boy's, parents would dress them in some kind of sports jersey to look athletic. Little girls would be given barbies and little baby dolls and boys would be given trucks and G.I. Joe’s. Along with being given things that identify with our sex, we were all taught that “Females are taught at a young age, that they can't speak strongly, that they are not allowed to assert their will as much as a male”. Language is a big part of our role in society and the reason why males have a stronger voice than females. Mr. Robertson told us about two different ways language reinforces the difference in gender roles, the first is because it instructs us how to speak as a male or female “genderlects” and the second is because it has words and conventions that fit us into a gendered system.
We read articles written by 2nd graders and we were to listen and figure out which sex wrote it. We found that there were significant differences between the boys and girls based on the information they gave and they way they talked about themselves. For example, the boys would focus on contest, protagonist almost always male, more power and physicality, celebration of individual, and defend honor. And the girls would focus more on unity / community, conflict resolution, social awareness, joint action, reinforced community norms, and cooperation with nature. When we read articles written by sophomores in high school, it was a little more difficult to tell the difference. We found that the reason why is because, when these kids were second graders, they were being taught by their parents more than the classes they took together but in high school, boys and girls are in the same classes and learning to write the same way. There were more articles that we talked about that involved swear words that identified girls more based on their sex life and words used to put them down more than boys would. When we are growing up, we learn most about our sex because of our parents but we are still taught the same way or treated the same even later in life, especially in the working life.
We are taught when growing up that men should be the assertive ones and it doesn't help that women think and believe this as well. Still in the world, the big reason why this hasn't changed is because women are insecure to do better in life because of the long history of women being put down. In the working life of male and females, women’s performance reviews have twice as much language about their nurturing or communal styles, more than twice as much feedback criticizing their aggression styles, and more references to team than individual. For males, their reviews were 7 times more likely to be told they were too soft in communicating, 3 times more feedback about a specific business outcome, and twice as many references to their expertise and vision. This is just one of the major reasons of what has keep women back in the world. I agree that this is an ongoing problem in the world that we even saw in the last election because it was between a man and female. What we learned from all of this is that “The powerful have control over the meaning and the less powerful, lose all the control over their meaning.”

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