As a powerful tool for education, language informs, influences, discloses, and communicates. Research on the use of language has found that it also discriminates. Among the different manifestations of sexism in language are (1) the use of "he" as a generic pronoun; (2) the "generic" use of "man" as an exclusively male referent; (3) the use of "you and your wife" as an assumed exclusive readership or listenership; (4) the use of "woman" or "lady" preceding a professional description; (5) terms describing jobs or roles for either women or men that have no equivalent in the other gender; (6) descriptions of women on the basis of their physical appearance rather than their individual accomplishments; (7) word stereotypes such as "pert, blonde cheerleader," and so forth; (8) the use of animal names or attributes to label or describe both women and men; (9) the feminine personification of inanimate objects and elements; (10) the nonparallel use of labels for males and females; (11) nonparallelism in the use of titles for women and men; (12) the preferential order given to male/female paired terms in which the male term is generally listed first; (13) terms that were originally nonsexist and historically accurate that have evolved into accepted usage by both women and men, such as "mastery"; (14) sexist suffixes; and (15) terms such as "women's libber" that represent a belief, but have taken on a negative connotation. (Examples and alternatives of language use are given for each category, and a brief quiz--with answers--is attached.) (HOD)
Paper presented at the Annual Spring Conference of the National Council of Teachers of English (4th, Houston, TX, March 28-30, 1985).