Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gendered Language

I thought it was really interesting the way that Mr. Robertson incorporated language reinforcement with gender roles. The presentation was also easy to understand and follow along. The two main points that weaved throughout the presentation were (Language reinforces gender roles in two ways) 1. Instructs us how to speak as a male or female ("genderlects") and 2. It has words and conventions that fit us into a gendered system. When we pondered these ideas in class we came across many different issues. For example, the word "bitch". For a women, it describes someone who is too assertive or rude. For a man, it is someone who is percieved as weak. It is the same word, yet has two completely different meanings. In regard to the first way in which language reinforces gender roles, we discussed the thesis written by Robin Lakoff, "Females are taught at a young age that they can't speak strongly and that they're not allowed to assert their will as much as a male". I think this correlates to the insulting names that are brought upon women (most evidently "bitch'), because the minute a women decides to be assertive, she is called a nasty name. As a class, we discussed whether or not that could be a reason as to why women tend to incorporate the word "like" in their sentences more than men, in order to dull it down and be less assertive.

When we read the writing done by 2nd grade kids, the things they chose to write about directly correlated to the article we read. Boys tend to write abut stories that included a focus on their talent, making the male a protagonist, power/defending their honor, or adventuring. Whereas girls wrote more about community, conflict resolution, social awareness, and nature. After, when we read stories written by 10th graders, the gender based ideas that males and females incorporated in their stories were less prominent, but still there.

Lastly, when we talked about performance reviews in the business world today, and the latest election gender roles were quite obvious in a lot of the language. For example, women were told that they had either good nurturing values, or were criticized for being too aggressive. Whereas men were told that they were "too soft", or got 3x more feedback about a business outcome. I think that these issues are presented in the world today, especially in the election between Trump and Hillary. They focused more on their tone's and stature than their own polices. I'm glad that we had this discussion because it made me more aware of how greatly language reinforces gender roles.

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