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ERIC Number: ED172221
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Dec
Pages: 20
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
The Doublespeak of Sexism.
Gershuny, H. Lee
The depth and pervasiveness of linguistic symbols of sexual identity, difference, and hierarchy are discussed in this paper. After noting that the language of sexism begins at birth and is recognized and used by preschool children, the paper points to patterns of linguistic sexism in the semantics and syntax of the English language, in written and spoken language about women and men, and in women's and men's use of verbal and nonverbal aspects of language. Among the topics dealt with are the following: the way female-associated language is defined not only by men but in terms of women's sexual relationship with men; frequent descriptions of nature and the land in images and metaphors of female sexuality and submission; the linguistic invisibility and pejoration of the female as reflected in the use of so-called "generics" and the adding of female markers (poet"ess") to distinguish women's achievement as deviant from the male norm; the way the English language teaches a prescriptive sociopolitical grammar that perpetuates the symbol systems of patriarchy; and differences in women's and men's language that reflect expectations of male dominance and female submission. The paper concludes by noting the penalties and risks encountered by those who attempt to change the restricted codes of thinking, speaking, and behaving. (GT)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Modern Language Association of America (93rd, New York, New York, December 27-30, 1978)