Women Through Male Chauvinistic Language English Literature Essay

1486 words (6 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 English Literature Reference this


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Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow. It is the backbone for communication. Communication turns out to be effective when language acts as a best platform in carrying the thoughts of the speaker and conveying it aptly to the listener in a comprehensive and lucid manner. In this case, language speaks a person’s thoughts and ideas which when successfully reaches the other person, builds in a kind of sociable relationship between them. The essential sociability of man is parallel to the communication tendency which leads its way to one’s language usage.

Sociability among people is as important as language is for communication. The bond that has sociability as its essence paves way for the interpersonal relationship which is otherwise the human relationship. Interpersonal relationships are social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. With that as a background, each one is affected by the presence of other people, forms relationships with other people, join groups with multitudes, and behave in certain ways towards members of his/her own and other groups. This relationship is governed entirely by language, in order for that to be sustained.

People, who develop good interpersonal relationships with almost everyone they meet, certainly experience more success in life than those who don’t. Exploring the function of language in the context of interpersonal relationship, Language is the means of classifying and ordering the world: the means of manipulating reality which, with its structure and use brings world into realisation in developing the rapport between one or more persons. Realisation in the sense of language crosses the boundaries of syntax and reaches the level of semantics, which closely examines the meanings implied within the language.

Effective language stands at the heart of every relationship, whether you are interacting with a friend, a significant other, a family member, a professional colleague or the sales clerk at the local coffee shop. If the language is accurate, it leads to the summit of a healthy interpersonal relationship, but on the contrary if it is essentially inaccurate, then it misleads to the level of abusing and accusations. Telephonic conversation can be taken as a best example.

“It’s been great catching up with you. Thanks for calling.”

“Your talk sickens me like a stale mbege. Get lost!”

The conversation in the first example proves that the language used cultivates a gracious and sociable atmosphere in deepening the relationship between persons. But the second example confirms to the offensive and abusive use of language, which mars a healthy interpersonal relationship. This shows that when language is accurate, yielding and emotionally well expressed it softens the relationship which in no time turns a relationship to a coarse path when it is erroneous. The conversations given above brings in the difference of how an interpersonal communication is enriched as well as led to astray having language as the cause.

Language and its disdained usage also narrows itself as gender biased, where women are marginalised. Marginalisation of women is done through language and especially male- centred language which attempts to subdue women by all means. Male- dominance as seen through the lens of society as Male chauvinism is nothing but a belief that men are superior to women with the perceptions of women as inferior to men, especially intellectually. This practice happens to have emerged since man realised his sense of reasoning. Hence it is a clear indication that language also carries down to posterity the concept of male chauvinism or male- dominance by assigning a secondary status to women.

In the point of precedence, the representation of men and women in language is reflected in the order given to men over women when they are referred together. Examples are ‘Son and Daughter’, ‘King and Queen’ and ‘Adam and Eve’. Women are also referred to in the terms of their male counterparts where their position is indirectly restrained like ‘Robert’s wife’ and not the other way round. An important function of language is to add dignity to a person, but in this case paired words like ‘Mister- Mistress’, ‘Courtier-Courtesan’ and ‘Dog-Bitch’, refers to feminine gender are mostly derogatory. This can easily be perceived to be showing respect to male, which can also be perceived as language is male chauvinistic.

Beyond the refined and scornful language used for women, there is also a lack of language meaning that lack words for things that costs a great deal to women. Clear evidence can be seen through ‘Sexual Harassment’ a word of feminine invention. Prior to this invention there wasn’t a right word for both the physical and mental sufferings of women. This is conceptualized as “Encoding of Male Worldview” in an anonymous article on ‘Feminist Philosophy of Language’. Through this it is obvious that how male dominated language opens the world up that is more natural for men than for women.

In reality where women are treated as sub-ordinates also extends its ruthless thread into language, in which the situation is the same too. Though the usages like ‘female’ ‘manageress’ and ‘lady doctor’ brings out the visibility of women, they tend to treat women in the sub- ordinate position. Somehow related to this are the gender- neutral terms like ‘Chairperson’ that is applied to instead of ‘Chairman’ and not ‘Chairwoman’. The use of these terms is a sort of symbolic insult to women as if they are gender- neutral which in real is the dominance of maleness as the norm thus proving the language of male chauvinism.

Expressions like “The proper study of Mankind is Man” by Pope and “The child is the Father of a Man” by Wordsworth also implies from within the male chauvinistic language. The opening words of the treatment of “Man” read, “Man is ambiguous; it can mean either human being or male human being.” It is a generic term when it means a human being. But still though the word ‘Man’ is used in a nonspecific context in one way, it has led to the invisibility of Women in the other way. This is represented in the 12-page booklet, Guidelines on the Use of Inclusive and Non-Discriminatory Language as “Used as a generic term, [‘man’] has led to the misrepresentation and exclusion of women!”

Knowledge, culture and language are so inter- related on a myriad ways that language preserves and transmits the culture and in doing so it has greatly helped to transmit and retain the patriarchal family structure in society as well as language. This patriarchal system in society has extended its chord to language which with its Male chauvinism has left its traces for the prevalence of women’s subjugation. This is prominently seen in the language that is used which attempts to suppress women in all the ways, though movements like Radical Feminist Movement and Liberal Feminist Movement arose.

In the words of Sheila Rothman “…much of our understanding of woman’s place has come to us filtered through the world of men…” This rightly brings out how women are subjugated in the minds of men in real life and also in the basis of language. Considering this as an issue women’s mind and enthusiasm are shuttered in encountering of male chauvinistic language in day to day life, though they are offered with all sorts of freedom. When male dominant language pushes itself forcefully into the feminine world, women’s thoughts and ideas become isolated, thereby sustaining the difference forever and never seeking for an equality which would bring the real harmony to the society as well as language.

Putting into a nutshell the entire scrutinizing of male chauvinistic language and its effect on women’s position portrays how language plays a major role in projecting the thoughts with its implications of suppressing women. Finally the chord of male chauvinistic usage of language is stricken with the words of Nietzsche that “All of us live in the ‘Prison house of Language’; if it is the prison house, then the question is who made the prison. It is man-made, constructed by male dominance”. Beyond this agreement women’s possibilities have been suppressed and lost to humanity through the male chauvinistic language and that it is high time she be permitted to take her chance in her independent thought and language.

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