Sexism in language exists when language helps to devalue members of a certain sex and promotes gender inequality, reinforcing ideas of gender-based dominance. Sexist language often expresses the idea of inherently male superiority, resulting in discrimination against women.
Sexism in language has arisen as a topic of concern as studies have pointed to the role that language plays in articulating consciousness, ordering our reality, transmitting cultural meanings and affecting socialization. Researchers have pointed to the semantic rule in operation in language of the male-as-norm. This results in sexism as the male becomes the standard and women are relegated to the inferior.
Examples include the use of generic masculine words which refer to all humanity, like man, master, father, and brother. Other examples include the use of the singular masculine pronoun (he, his, him). Further examples point to terms ending in ‘man’ that may be performed by individuals of either sex, such as businessman, chairman, policeman. Finally, ordering of words also puts women to an inferior position, in examples like “man and wife”. Sexism in language is considered a form of indirect sexism.
In the French language, for example, due to pressure from several feminist groups, the word ‘mademoiselle’, meaning miss was declared banished in 2012. Current pressure calls for the use of the masculine plural pronoun as the default in a mixed-sex group to change. Spanish has also been accused of sexist structures, in that the masculine form is the default form. Portuguese uses masculine plural pronouns to refer to a group of people, even if there are more girls than boys in that group.
I have been thinking that, from now on, in order to have deeper posts, it was important to establish some definitions os various types of feminism. If you want to know more, click on any of the links above the concepts.
Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending a state of equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.
Liberal feminism asserts the equality of men and women through political and legal reform. It is an individualistic form of feminism, which focuses on women’s ability to show and maintain their equality through their own actions and choices.
Anarcha-feminism (also called anarchist feminism and anarcho-feminism) combines anarchism with feminism. It generally views patriarchy as a manifestation of involuntary hierarchy. Anarcha-feminists believe that the struggle against patriarchy is an essential part of class struggle and of the anarchist struggle against the state.
Socialist feminism connects the oppression of women to Marxist ideas about exploitation, oppression and labor. Socialist feminists think unequal standing in both the workplace and the domestic sphere holds women down.
Radical feminism considers the male-controlled capitalist hierarchy, which it describes as sexist, as the defining feature of women’s oppression. Radical feminists believe that women can free themselves only when they have done away with what they consider an inherently oppressive and dominating patriarchal system.
Cultural feminism is the ideology of a “female nature” or “female essence” that attempts to revalidate what they consider undervalued female attributes. It emphasizes the difference between women and men but considers that difference to be psychological, and to be culturally constructed rather than biologically innate.
Separatist feminism is a form of radical feminism that does not support heterosexual relationships. Lesbian feminism is thus closely related. Separatist feminism’s proponents argue that the sexual disparities between men and women are unresolvable.
Classical liberal or libertarian feminism conceives of freedom as freedom from coercive interference. It holds that women, as well as men, have a right to such freedom due to their status as self-owners.
Sexism or gender discrimination is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. Sexist attitudes may stem from traditional stereotypes of gender roles, and may include the belief that a person of one sex is intrinsically superior to a person of the other.
Black feminism argues that sexism, class oppression, and racism are inextricably bound together. The way these relate to each other is called intersectionality. Forms of feminism that strive to overcome sexism and class oppression but ignore race can discriminate against many people, including women, through racial bias.
The gender pay gap (also known as gender wage gap, male–female income difference, gender gap in earnings, gender earnings gap, gender income difference) is the difference between male and female earnings expressed as a percentage of male earnings, according to the OECD.
Pro-life feminism is the opposition to abortion by a group of feminists who believe that the principles which inform their support of women’s rights also call them to support the right to life of prenatal humans. Pro-life feminists believe abortion has served to hurt women more than it has benefited them.
As you all know, I live in Brazil. Abortion there is illegal, saved in cases of rape and when it puts the mother’s lofe in risk. This post will discuss wheter abortion should be legalized or not.
There are some people who often ask that funny question “Are you for or against abortion?”. Nobody in the world is in favor of abortion. Abortion is inherently bad, uncomfortable and abominable.
I have never met anyone who was pro-abortion. That is not what it means to be pro-choice. This only means that we do not want to criminalize choice.
I perfectly understand all the arguments of pro-life people on the fetus. I believe we’ll never get a definition of the beginning of life.
In a study on a global scale, made by the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York, and published in the Lancet, it was concluded that the number of abortions in countries where abortion is legal and countries which is prohibited or restricted is statistically equal. This means: the criminalization of abortion does not reduce the number of abortions. If abortion is legalized, the number of abortions wouldn’t increase.
This statistc also shows that a certain number of fetuses won’t be born, every year, because of abortion. Independently of the legislation, it is the same amount. Then why should we fight for the decriminalization of abortion, if it doesn’t make any difference? Illegal and unsafe abortion kills people. People beyond the number of fetuses would have died. You know those abortions done in the bathroom with knitting needle, hangers and branches? They cause people’s death. Abortions with disabilities and ill-equipped doctors, in extreme conditions, kill people. Uterine rupture and perforation of organs caused by knitting needles and hangers cause internal bleeding, infections, sterilization and death of people.
Feminism chose the option that saves more lives. It chose the option that saves a greater number of people. Whether these people were born or not. Independently if these people are “guilty” or not, stigmatized by society or not.
And feminism makes even more: several studies, including the one cited above, show that what really reduces abortions is the free and easy access to contraceptive methods. And feminism has always been, in their many movements, the great defender of facilitating access to contraceptive methods, even when such access is being restricted until today.
For the ones asking “Where are the numbers?”, here they are:
The median annual earnings for full-time, year-round women workers in 2012 was $37,791 compared to men’s $49,398.
In 2013, the median weekly earnings for full-time working women was $706, compared to $860 for men.
In 2013, the median weekly earnings for women in full-time management, professional, and related occupations was $973, compared to $1,349 for men.
In 2012, full-time working married women with spouses present had median usual weekly earnings of $751, somewhat higher than never married women ($594) or women of other marital status (divorced, separated, or widowed - $735).
In 2012, full-time working married men with spouses present had median usual weekly earnings of $981, significantly higher than never married men ($620) or men of other marital status ($815), or women of any marital status.
In 2013, Asian women who were full-time wage and salary workers had higher median weekly earnings than women of all other races/ethnicities as well as African-American and Latino men.
Based on median annual earnings for full-time, year-round workers, women earned 76.5% of men’s earnings in 2012.
Based on the median weekly earnings for full-time workers, (which excludes self-employed and full-time workers who work only part of the year), in 2013 women earned 82.1% as much as men.
In 1979, women earned 62.1% as much as men.
The earnings difference between women and men varies with age, with younger women more closely approaching pay equity than older women (2012, median weekly earnings), for full-time wage and salary workers.
Male doctors make 25.3% more than female physicians; this means male doctors make over $56,000 more than female doctors.
When talking about money, everybody gets interested. If you think that other types of sexism are exagerated, how about this one? What would you think if you worked as much as you co-worker and still earned less money?
Numbers don’t lie, these wage gaps are huge. The NCPE (National Committee on Pay Equity) and liberal groups like the National Women’s Law Center and the National Partnership for Women & Families maintain that women make only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and that the number has been stuck there for nearly ten years. And worse, we don’t expect the gap to close for four more decades.
Further, they looked at how non-white women’s wages compared with white men’s pay and they found even greater disparities. In Washington, D.C., for instance, African-American women make 53 cents on the dollar while Hispanic women make only 44 cents compared with white men. In the state of California, Latinas make 43 cents for every dollar earned by white men.
Well, I think that is enough for today…
I think this image sums up pretty much what I have been trying to say. It may be popular on the internet, but as people say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
We should all fight together for equal rights.
I consider myself a feminist on a daily basis. But I think sometimes people take it to another level. The video above is an example of that. A woman goes to a museum, sits on the floor and opens her legs so everybody can see her vagina. People around her started applauding and security interfered to stop the action. The voice of the video keeps repeating “I am the origin. I am all the women. I haven’t seen me. I want you to know me. Virgin like me, received the sperm”.
In my personal opinion, this is ridiculous. If it was a man instead of a woman showing his penis to everybody, I would feel discomfortable, shocked and disturbed as much as I felt when I saw this video. A woman doing it doesn’t change my opinion. Seeing a woman’s vagina in the middle of a museum won’t make men less sexist. This kind of protests are nonsense. Supposedly, this protest shows the inside of a woman, and the security’s action demostrates how sexist is our society, in such a way that a woman’s soul is not permited to be shown. Seriously???? Your vagina is the thing that is not permited to be shown! Security just did it job.
I totally agree with the security’s action. Like it or not, our society has some rules, which everybody should follow. One of them is to wear clothes.
I am not even going to talk about the applause reaction. I bet most of the people who saw it just applauded because some people did. Applauding someone became automatic, people don’t even know why they are doing it anymore. They see something unusual or impressive and start clapping hands. Someone starts applauding, everybody does.
Really guys… There are thousands of different ways to catch people’s attention. I understand that this kind of protest is more shocking, obviously… But I don’t think people who saw it thought about the meaning of it. And, as I said, if a man had done it, it would be considered rude and authoritary. A woman doing it brought me the exact same feeling.
Yesterday, while surfing the internet, I found this very curious arguments against feminism. To be completely honest, I think the person who wrote this is a sexist man. All of them misunderstand the concept of it.
1. The most important agenda of feminism is not making a better world, but getting more privileges to women.
My argument: feminism doesn’t try to make women have more rights then men. Men already have more rights than women. What feminism actually tries is to make both genders have the same opportunities and rights, we just want to be treated the same way men do.
3. Western societies have taken more than 1000 years building what we have today. Feminism has no respect for that and is ready to break that down any day just to put another pin in their template.
My argument: western societies spent more than 1000 years building a sexist society that excludes women from equality. What feminism tries to break down is simply and only sexism. We shouldn’t have any respect for it because it is disgusting and agressive. And about “putting another pin in our template”, why can’t be have two pins? That is what we are trying to obtain: equality.
4. Feminism is a strong believer in behavourism. If you smoke, drink or in any other way do something not good for the society feminism will come for you and penalize you.
My argument: feminism doesn’t care at all about drugs, that is a totally different issue. What we truly care about is sexism. And yes, sexism is part of society’s behavior, but just part of it. I am not saying that it is okay to do drugs. What I am saying is that we should separate topics.
5. Feminism is the main driver in the fascism of equality. Feminism did start out as a pure good thing, but has long ago reached a level of equality where sheer fascism is the driver.
My argument: I agree that some feminists have taken feminist to an exaggerated level. For example, it have been proven that men are physically stronger than women, and some girls can’t accept it. But the main goal of feminism, as said a thousand times, is to make women be treated like men are.
6. Feminism is a strong believer in both European Union and The European Human Rights Court because feminism is contributing so little to real production that it needs institutions to say that it is the best.
(Ordinary people does not rely on institutions to have selfesteem.)
My argument: the consequences of feminism may be little because sexism dominates our culture. We need institutions to make it big and to change people’s mind.
7. Feminism is very much in bed with Political Correctness. The meaning of this is disputed, but PC is at best a form of control on society, where normal people must accept certain rules to survive.
My argument: this argument basically says that it is okay for women to be treated as inferiors. We must not accept that we have less rights, less opportunities and less chances to succeed in life, because this is NOT normal.
8. Feminism makes men unsure about if it is okey to be a man and feel like a man.
My argument: if being a man is about humiliating womem, then it not okay to feel like a man nor to be one. Sexism is the one who doesn’t let women be women.
It is fair to write about the change in your magazines. But what I want to see is the change on your covers… When the covers change, that’s when culture changes. - Lady Gaga
At Glamour‘s 2013 Women of the Year Awards, Lady Gaga gave a sharp critique of her own recent Glamour photos, which were photoshopped.
Almost all magazine covers are photoshopped to make women thinner and with greater curves. Not only that wounds the woman of the photo, but it also gives high expectatios of how females should look like.
I think that Lady Gaga’s quote says it all. Covers are the first thing we see. In order to change society’s behavior, we should change its principles. Change men’s expectations! Put real women on covers!