essay about the connection between gender and language

Essay by claire123High School, 12th gradeA+, January 2003

download word file, 4 pages 4.5 4 reviews

The English language is continually changing in order to meet the needs of the people using it. The ever-changing culture we live in affects the way language develops and the way it is used by different people in society. The ideology of a society is reflected in it´s use of language, and because children learn their values, assumptions and expectations from their parents and the words that they have to learn, this ideology is passed down from generation to generation. For centuries we have lived in a male-dominated society where language has been biased towards men. Men are viewed as being the superior sex and this is reinforced by the use of biased generic terms such as 'mankind´, which infact refers to the whole human race. Bias towards men is very often unconscious, thus demonstrating that sexist attitudes are fundamentally ingrained into our way of thinking.

Sex is the biological categorization of people whereas gender is the interpreted identity that males and females choose to take on.

Because language teaches individuals to behave in a certain way and describe the behavior of others in such as way that is appropriate for their sex, over time society has created stereotypical male and female gender identities. For example men are seen to be logical, rational and objective whereas woman are emotional, intuitive and subjective. This stereotyping has enabled society as a whole to become male-dominated and this is evident in language.

These stereotypical attitudes and expectations are reinforced by sexist language, which is particularly used by men. Patronizing terms referring to women are ubiquitous in the English language, for example 'love´ and 'dear´. Female pronouns such as 'she´ and 'her´ are used to refer to inanimate objects and imply that men have some kind of ownership over women. In addition...