Analysis at the Level of the Word
DOI link for Analysis at the Level of the Word
Analysis at the Level of the Word book
In this chapter, I deal with the question of gender bias at the level of the analysis of individual words. In the first section, I focus on the more general and theoretical aspects of sexism and give an account of generic usage; in the second section I examine specific types of sexist language-use. In both sections, I am concerned with the way that feminist critics have dealt with sexism in language, and the effects which they claim this type of language-usage has on readers, particularly females. By examining examples of usage such as the sex-specific pronoun use, the misuse of generics, address terms and the negative descriptions of females in a variety of texts, it is hoped to show that language-use can present and perpetuate a particular view of women. However, from this chapter, it is clear that although we may be encouraged by the norms of the language to speak in particular ways and reinforce certain visions of the potentialities of women and men in our society, there is a range of options open to speakers to resist sexist usage. I describe a genderfree use of language which avoids unnecessary gender-specific terms and uses generics to refer to both women and men. As well as giving examples of ways to use gender-free language, I also give examples of strategies which can be used to counter sexism in general.