Language, Writing, and Gender Differences

Authored by: Gertrude Postl

The Routledge Companion to Feminist Philosophy

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138795921
eBook ISBN: 9781315758152
Adobe ISBN:


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Concern with language has not been limited to feminist philosophy, but already emerged in the early debates of the second wave of the Women’s Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s in the US and in Europe. The underlying assumption was that a patriarchal world produces a patriarchal language, which in turn means that women and men are not on the same playing field with respect to linguistic expression, either in speech or writing. The most prominent themes of these early days—outside of philosophy—were the issue of sexist language (e.g., the generic use of male pronouns and male job titles, derogatory reference terms for women), the discovery that there were no linguistic expressions to refer to certain gender-related phenomena (e.g., sexual harassment, date rape), and different speech behaviors between the genders (e.g., an allegedly more assertive speech style for men versus a more timid, hesitant style for women).

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