Is the English language sexist?!?! Not quite, but it doesn’t always support men or women.
It was a few months ago when someone suggested that I wrote about this topic. I was keen to explore and read up about it as I had never really digested it much during day to day life. So let’s get into it.
Essentially, this post is going to be about how the English language may in some ways stimulate the inequality of both men and women in society.
It is clear that the English language is constantly evolving as new words get invented and others die out. However, it is known that the English language was primarily created by men which may have had some effect on the inequalities addressed. Hence words like ‘mankind’ still being used instead of a simple alternatives like ‘humankind’.
I once read that derogatory words used against women like ‘slut’ or ‘hoe’ have no equivalent when it comes down to negatively describing men. Many would argue that you could use words like ‘player’ or ‘man-hoe’. But they’re used too many times in a comical way which defeats their true derogatory meanings. In a perfect world, none of these words would be used at all but we can’t escape the fact that the are; and more importantly, to disrespect women.
Another term which is used a lot is ‘man up’. A phrase that Piers Morgan tends to use a lot to encourage men to get over mental health problems despite it’s damaging effects on men (and women). It sends a message that men have to be strong, tough and ignorant when it comes down to understanding their emotions. Language like this can easily make men feel trapped and forced to fulfil a specific role even when it doesn’t fit for them. Statistics for male suicides are excessive and many professionals state that it is because they are told to ‘man-up’ and be masculine instead of seeking help at times of distress. For women, it infers that they are weaker than men. Women are never told to ‘woman up’ because they don’t carry connotations of being strong.
For both sexes, language in some ways is nonfunctional. Just from these few examples, it is clear that men and women have an ongoing silent battle with the English language. It often devalues them. On the other hand, with new language flourishing, maybe one day these battles will end.