Gender in Language
Language helps create social reality. Language involving gender creates different worlds for men and women. Language we use everyday places the two sexes in different and unequal social positions. Men use the pronoun “she” instead of her or it when describing material objects such as a boat, motorcycle, or car. This is because men often use language to establish control over their surroundings. A man attaches a female pronoun to a motorcycle (or car, boat, or other object) because it reflects power of ownership.
Women when married take on the last name of their husband which again shows power of ownership. However today we are starting to see some change and many women are keeping their last names or combining both names. Language treats anything that has great value, face or significance, as masculine. Words to describe a sexually active female are more negative in meaning than the words to describe a sexually active male.
Terms for male royalty are more positive than terms used for female royalty. Also in society female terms have a lower standing than terms used for males. The word steward sounds more powerful than the word stewardess and the term master sounds more positive than the word mistress. When suffixes are added to the word to denote femininity, the word loses value. Many jokes today are also aimed at women, involving the assumptions that females especially blondes are stupid.
It may be more socially acceptable for a male employee to speak and interrupt others while women are expected to show respect through silence. A nickname such as sissy is used for the term sister and is demeaning, but bro instead of brother has a more positive meaning. Given the importance of gender in everyday life, perhaps we should not be surprised that women and men sometimes have trouble communicating with each other. It seems males and females may be speaking two different languages.
Today society is beginning to change some terms generally...