Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gendered Language

I enjoyed Mr. Robertson’s presentation on the use of gendered language in society. He was able to interestingly demonstrate how men and women use language that perpetuate gender differences and stereotypical gender roles from the second grade all the way to the workforce and in politics. I really liked when he said that people who use gendered language shouldn’t be referred to as sexist in this conversation, because we all unconsciously use gendered language. Women have been brought up in society to act “like a lady”, play with barbies, and wear pink. Men are conditioned to be tough, violent, and confident. This is so conditioned into people in society that men and women bring this into how they communicate and treat others without even thinking about it. Women are unequally affected by the use of this gendered language. This presentation was based off the thesis by Robin Lakoff that said “females are taught at a young age that they cannot speak strongly and that they are not allowed to assert their will as much as a males”. It was evident in examples Mr. Robertson gave us and the article about the study done in the second grade classroom, that women are much more hesitant and less confident than men. At first, I did not believe that the reason women were this way can be traced back all the way to their childhood. I thought that it stemmed from the insults and unfair treatment that came much more into adulthood. But after evaluating exact examples and thinking back to my own childhood I can see where this comes from.
Mr. Robertson started by giving examples of young students who wrote stories about their weekend and we had to guess what gender they were. It was actually pretty simple to get this correct based on how the kids wrote their story. Girls, focus more on their relationship with others, are generally more hesitant, and are more descriptive, while boys focus more on conflict, individuality, and power. Boys told stories of sports games and winning. While girls talked about spending time with family and getting along with friends. This connected to the articles he gave to us to read which really highlighted the differences in style between boys and girls in the second grade. The article stated, “second grade girls sit quietly and talk; boys fidget, tease one another, and playfully flout adult authority”. This reminded me so much of recess in elementary school. Girls would play off to the side with their friends while most boys would play football and come back into the classroom sweating. A lot of girls in my class played sports but we never wanted to deal with the boys who would make a big deal if we tried to play with them. No adults advertised including girls and boys into the same activity, and no one would say anything when boys would not pass to us, pick us last to be on their team, or even kick us off the field. Adults around us cultured us to believe this was appropriate behavior. Overall, allowing this behavior creates an environment where girls feel inferior, and some boys feel they have to be someone they are not. Young boys feel they have to be strong and not show their emotions which can be very taxing on their wellbeing and girls feel like they can’t express themselves and have to settle to please others. It was interesting how Mr. Robertson connected this to the election and careers.
In the election, Hillary Clinton was overshadowed by Donald Trump’s dominant personality. Trump made sure he maintained the power to his audience, and when he said things that were offensive they were quickly erased by him saying that is not what he meant. People did not respect Clinton as much, and put words into her mouth painting her as someone she was not. The US viewed these political figures by taking into account the gendered views they have, and assumed how they acted, which is very unfair and influenced the outcome of the election. This is the same in the work force. It is interesting how the reviews of men and women are so unequal. This is not an conscious effort made by people writing reviews, it is made by the gendered culture people are conditioned to. The gendered language has the ability to lead to consequences and it is important to be aware of its use. It is impossible to erase gendered language. However, from the second grade to tenth grade the amount of gendered language in students writing was softened so it is possible to make a more conscious effort to avoid playing into stereotypical gender roles and being more aware of other people using them. It is important that boys and girls are taught from a young age to be more inclusive of each other and confident in their abilities to reverse the conditioned language and I really hope that this is something that is encouraged in future generations, and that I will definitely look for in my own language.

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