Wednesday, 06 March 2019 14:16

It's a Man's Man's Man's World by Anouk Carvill

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WO      MAN

FE       MALE

HU      MAN

PER    SON

This is not just the natural order; this is the language of a patriarchal society.             

Language is one of the most powerful entities through which gender discrimination and sexism are perpetrated and reproduced. Did you know that placing the male word first in phrases was a convention strengthened by male grammarians? So it was men who first assumed that men are of a higher status, surprising. However, within a short space of time we have seen some change. Firemen are now firefighters, policemen are police officers and air hostesses are now ‘cabin crew’. With all of these marked terms, language suggests that these jobs roles were once predominantly male occupations, but are now filled with both sexes.

Placing the male word first in phrases suggests an assumption that men are of a higher status: ‘he or she’, ‘his and hers’, ‘sir or madam’ and ‘male and female’. This convention was deemed as proper and natural at the time, by men that is.

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