Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gender in Language

Examining how gender is presented in language is something that has always interested me. During Robbie's presentation, I really did start to understand how the differences between gender can be seen through language, whether in writing or casual speaking. Before reading the article, I knew that boys had a greater tendency to write about power, physicality, and the celebration of individual honor while women tend to focus on topics like community, social awareness, and conflict resolution, but, the differences in statistics between the genders did surprise me. Part of me thinks this is due to the fact that we have been conditioned in our society to write and think about our own gender roles, while another aspect could be biological or evolutionary. In class when we read the different stories of the second graders, it was strange acknowledging how easy it was to identify if the author was a girl or boy.
           I found it interesting in the reading that young girls wrote about topics that “seemed foreign to the boys.” According to the reading, “while most American women use the language of rapport, most American men use language to preserve independence and maintain a hierarchal social order”(303). From a young age, we are conditioned through the way we are spoken to, the things we are given, and how we are dressed that we need to act and speak in a certain manner regarding our gender. It made sense that the women focused on vastly different topics from men, given society’s expectations on young boys and girls.
           At the summer camp where I work, we had Female Empowerment Day this past summer. The day was filled with many videos and sessions where we discussed the issues that young women face in today’s society. Something that repeatedly came up was the passive and timid nature that women always seem to display in interactions with men. We asked ourselves why we felt the need to suppress what we really wanted to say, or why we felt we had to walk on eggshells. We as women have been bred to believe that we need to be quiet, and polite, while men have been taught to be strong, and assertive. It was very difficult when my campers asked me that day why women are so afraid to be loud and confident, and I enjoy seeing that they do not yet feel the social pressures that I, or other young women, might feel. All I can hope for is that, one day, they won’t have to ask me that question.

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