Uncategorized

Is the English Language Sexist?

English has no masculine or feminine forms for words (unlike, say, French, in which the gender of words is marked by ‘le/la’ and masculine/feminine endings). But does this mean that the English language is inherently non-sexist? Begin with How Language Governs Our Perceptions of Gender, then read a couple more articles to find out some different points of view on this topic:

Class Activity

The idea that language can stunt or stimulate mental responses is interesting. Nominate one person to read each word from the lists below one at a time. When you hear a word, does it automatically or subconsciously associate with a particular gender? Use a simple M / W system to keep track of your responses, then compare your responses to others? Are there any patterns? Areas of agreement or disagreement? Can you add any more adjectives associated with a particular gender to the list?

  • Beautiful
  • Handsome
  • Coy
  • Rambunctious
  • Lively
  • Buff
  • Hot
  • Teacher
    Nurse
    Farmer
    Computer Technician
    Firefighter
    Traffic Warden
    Doctor
    Cashier
    High School Principal

Learner Portfolio

Is the English Language sexist? In what ways can English be ‘gendered’? Write up your learning about this topic in a one-two page journal entry.


Body of Work: Why I Want a Wife

Judy Syfers was inspired to write this essay, ‘I want a wife’, after visiting a feminist conference in 1970. She wrote her piece and read it to a crowd in San Francisco on the 50th aniversary of women’s rights to vote. Her essay was reprinted in Ms. magazine in 1990:

Towards Assessment: Individual Oral

This essay would work very well as a non-literary text in your Individual Oral. The named author would be ‘Judy Syfers.’ You could explore the Global Issues of: Beliefs, Values and Education or Culture, Identity and Community. You may have ideas about how to pair the articles with the literary texts you are studying. If not, don’t worry; speak to your teacher or use the following suggestions as a starting point:

  • Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, (compare this essay to Act 5 Scene 1 in which Lorenzo reveals his true colours when speaking to Jessica).
  • Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions (chapter 8, in which Lucia argues with the men over the way she is treated would make a perfect comparison, as would other extracts from this literary work).
  • Shaw’s Pygmalion (Higgins and Liza argue twice in Acts 4 and 5 – either would be good extracts to pair with this essay).

Categories:Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s