Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Gendered Language

Gender has permeated every aspect of our lives: the way we think, the way we feel, but most notably the way we speak.  Mr. Robertson's talk illuminated a subject that I hadn't thought much about.  Even though I use the English language everyday whether orally or epistolary but yet I have never thought about how my linguistic expression may differ greatly than someone from the other sex.  Insults, being the most crude and blatant form of languages, I had picked up earlier on the gendered difference between bitch versus motherfucker or whore versus douche.  But until Mr. Robertson's talk I had totally missed the minutiae.  I completely agree with Robin Lakoff when she says that "language uses us as much we use language."  The labels or conversations that my father has with me is very different than the ones he has with my brother when I was his age.  It's obvious that language shows us that what we value differs from sex to sex.  But I also wonder if gendered language only exists on a binary.  For someone who identifies as non binary or gender fluid, would their language fall as either one or the other?  Does gender still affect those who actively reject it? I'm not sure.

While gendered language can empower males but minimize females, I do believe that men can also be harmed.  When we were talking about phrases such as "man up" or "stop being a pussy" or "grow some balls", I immediately thought about an Australian campaign ad by the same name: Man Up.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSAeOhCrv_s)  The campaign focus on the male suicide rate in Australia that stems from a culture of toxic masculinity that's epitomized from a phrase like "man up."  They are trying to change the conversation.  Which brings me back to Lakoff's quote.  While yes our use of language goes both ways, do we ultimately give it power.  Can't we if truly want change the venom behind it?  Rather than raising girls to be demure and boys to be powerful why don't we raise them the same way? Rather than calling girls whores and boys studs for the same behavior why don't we just simply allow others to live their lives free of judgement?  Ultimately, it's up us to rid ourselves of "genderlects" that fit us into a confining system.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think about this issue?