Gender, Gender And Gender Bias

1429 Words Mar 12th, 2016 6 Pages
Language and gender has become an increasingly popular topic of study over recent decades, most likely due to the second wave of feminism in the 1960s and 70s. This can also be seen in the fact that goals of linguistic studies shifted at this point, to not just look at grammatical differences between males and females but to examine sexism and gender bias in language. The wording of such studies becomes increasingly important in the modern era, as gender is now recognised as a socially constructed concept of masculine and feminine features, based on biological sex but not limited to that. Simone de Beauvoir (1952) believed that we gradually become more masculine or feminine but we are not inherently gendered.

Language and gender was not developed as a serious subfield until the 1975 publication of Robin Lakoff’s Language and Woman’s Place. Lakoff argued that women use particular language features in order to deny themselves means of strong expression, which are stereotypically reserved for males. These features include shows of uncertainty, such as hedging and indirect requests. Indirect requests include making a statement in hope that it will elicit the desired response from someone else without openly asking. ‘Women’s speech seems… to contain more instances of ‘well’, ‘y’know’… words that convey the sense that the speaker is uncertain about what [she] is saying’ (Lakoff, 1975:53). Dale Spender (1980) talks about gender power relations, but disagrees with Lakoff as she…

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