In my opinion it is obvious that there is an inbuilt gender bias in the English language. Women are not equally treated to men in various different ways. The inbuilt gender bias has evolved from ancient English language from the Shakespeare times to today. I think that as our society today has changed from being male dominating to equality between both sexes then our language should change with it however there still seems to be a strong inbuilt gender bias within our language and I’m about to address the main problems.
A prime example of the inbuilt gender bias is the famous lexis that Neil Armstrong said when he landed on the lunar surface in July 1969 which was ‘That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind. ’ This clearly shows that women were not given a second thought during the journey to the moon even though there were probably plenty of intelligent women working behind the scenes of the moon landing. Armstrong almost certainly never meant his words to be taken in this way however his words indicate a clear inbuilt gender bias within the English language women and also suggest that women are inferior to men.
However, Armstrong said those words in 1969 when women and men were not yet seen as equals and therefore used language which singled out women, the fact that Armstrong, after a long period of thinking time, used the word ‘mankind’ suggests that the world is only made up of men, men run the world and women have nothing to do with the evolution of the world which shows men and women are not equal also men are above women. Another way in which we can see that women are inferior to men is the use of suffixes.
Suffixes show that we cannot just describe a person’s job or purpose by using the same word for both sexes and however need to use different endings for each of the genders. For example, we describe a male who manages a company a ‘manager’ however a woman, according to the English language, isn’t allowed to be described in the same way and instead we have to say ‘manageress’ which clearly states that men and women are not equals as equals are referred to with the same name.
You will also find that most suffixes ‘ess’, ‘ine’, trix’, ‘ette’ (all used to describe women) are used to describe women as women unworthy of their own titles. Derogatory metaphors are another way in which you can compare whether women are suggested to be second-rate to men within the English language as it there are far more derogatory terms used by men to offend women then there is by women for men.
I conducted a questionnaire in which I asked 20 people whether there were more derogatory metaphors for men or women in whom ALL 20 answered that there were more terms to abuse a woman compared to men. Then I asked for some terms in which they would be likely to use if they were to curse at either men or women and they answered with derogatory terms such as slut, slag, wanker, cunt, prick, pussy, bitch, cow and crow. As you can see there are more abusive terms for a woman compared to a man.
Why is this? It could be because of the inbuilt gender bias or may be because, in history, it is seen as un-ladylike for women to use foul language as women are meant to act ‘appropriately’ and behave well for their husband and therefore there are more terms for women as only men cursed and you will find that all derogatory metaphors used for men are modern words which have been created as men and women are starting to become more equal.
The fact that there are more derogatory metaphors used for a woman than a man could resemble that English Language does in fact suggest that women are inferior to men. When you look at the lexical asymmetry of pairs of words for males and females you tend to see that the male term is almost certainly going to be in front of the female term. For example, ‘man and wife’, ‘boys’ and girls’ and ‘brother and sister’.
The fact that the male term is almost always put in front of the female term suggests that the man has all the power and as a result the woman is inferior to the man. Plus in the first pair ‘man and wife’ you can see that they have deliberately not mentioned ‘husband and wife’ and this in itself shows that there is an inbuilt gender bias where men do not have to abide by the traditions however women do.
Also, when a man and a woman get married its traditional for the woman to take the man’s second name and in some religion’s is frowned upon if you do not meaning that when you get married you giving your whole self to the man showing that the man has all the power and rights, this suggests that the traditions of the English language propose that women are inferior to men and should give up their lives to be the slave of a the man you ‘love’.
The feminine inanimate often goes unnoticed in everyday speech however it is a good example of seeing how women are seen as ‘less worthy’ in the English language then men. We frequently talk about objects such as cars, ships and hurricanes for example in terms that we use to describe women. For instance in the film titanic a man from the upper class says ‘Isn’t she a beauty? ’ rhetorically talking about the ship however describing her as a women in which belonged to the man, this suggest that women are inferior to men as a man created the boat and now ‘she’ is his possession.
In the book ‘Thomas and the Tank Engine’ the little boy refers to the carriages of the train as ‘Annie’ and ‘Clarabel’ which are two female names given to the train carriages. This proves the fact that women are seen to be inferior to men and have to give themselves to a man. The trains are treated as if they were women and as if they belong to a man. So an inbuilt gender bias of the English language is also present in children’s fiction. Terms in which describe women in the media have undergone pejoration.
For example, if a man in everyday English language was said to of had a ‘client’ in a newspaper than he is simply a businessman and working to support his family however if a women in the press was said to of had a ‘client’ then instantly the inbuilt gender bias in the English language would force your mind to engage in the fact that she is a whore and that she goes round sleeping with men for money and these men are her ‘clients’. You can instantly see how the English language suggests that women are inferior to men as you automatically criticize women instead of men even though there is only a very small minority that are prostitutes.