Consider the implications of usages such as the following:

  • “Man is a mammal and suckles his young” – the human race is male by default; “Womankind” is a subset of “Mankind”.
  • “The reader is entitled to his opinion” – if you’re female, you have to pretend otherwise to read legal documents.
  • “Wizard” is praise; “witch” is an insult (abuse is the only field in which there are more words to describe women).
  • “The UK’s greatest living author” is ambiguous; does it rule out the possibility of authoresses who are greater?

This doctrine of Male-As-Default treats women as a negligible subgroup, and femaleness as abnormal but always noteworthy.

Sexism is (in principle) avoidable in English, via words like “human, people, he/she, they”, and sex-neutral jobtitles where sex is irrelevant.  Things are different in languages with grammatical gender: eg in French, masculine plural is “ils”, feminine plural is “elles”, but mixed groups (even of 99 women and one grammatically-masculine hornet) are “ils”. ..

Makes you think, doesnt it?

4 thoughts on “SEXISM

  1. Alex

    Although the things you mention obviously have sexist roots but arent they really harmless today? I mean i would refer to both – JK Rowling and a Jonathan Stroud as authors with no bias to the gender of either. Perhaps I would be grammatically wrong but hey its just like the ubiquitous “Xerox”!

    Perhaps more dangerous would be the Ekta Kapoors of the world!

  2. hmm, true, how ever off late, i have noticed that every other actress is being referred to as ‘Actor’ on most of the media, I guess this is for the same reason, seems the word actress has disappeared from english in an effort of being non sexist.

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