Writing away sexist language one word at a time

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Writing away sexist language one word at a time

Leigh Alley

Leigh Alley

Leigh Alley

Beatrice Bugos, Feature Editor

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There are lots of words we say or hear in our everyday lives that we brush off as normal language, but what if these words are actually hurting one another?

When I walk through the hallways, I often hear people referring to other classmates as  “b***h” and “h*e”. People are calling their peers these words with friendly intentions, not realizing that they’re degrading women. Some men even find the term “d**k ” offensive.

People know that these derogatory terms are bad words, but they still use them anyway. They’ve become so embedded into people’s vocabulary that the former insults are no longer used.

When people feel like they need to express their negative opinion towards someone else, some synonyms could be “annoying”, “irritating” and “rude”.

The phrase “you guys” is another term that people use without realizing the exclusion towards women, when talking to any group of people.

The problem is so widespread that there is no easy substitute for it. Even someone who is conscious of it can’t stray away from the term. I asked around to see what phrase others would use instead of “you guys” to address each other, and the only other answer was “y’all,” which just isn’t California’s style.

Words such as “everyone” and “people” can be substituted easily, yet I rarely hear anyone use them because they don’t work in every situation.

What strikes me is that there is no easy substitute, even though the West Coast is one of the most progressive areas in the country. Why does our society think calling a group of females “gals” or “girls” is weird? Why are we still accepting these phrases without questioning their meaning? What other things are we not questioning anymore because they’ve been embedded into our society?

The use of male pronouns before or over female pronouns is an example of the implicit sexism in our everyday language use. It would be much more fair to either switch between the use of “he” and “she”, as some publications do, or sometimes use “she/he”.

Throughout many decades, the language we have used has changed meaning, but now we have the ability to change how our words are used in the future. What I’m asking you to do is this: if you think the words you use offend your audience, do not use them. If we choose to challenge what we are accustomed to, we will be able to create a more equal and accepting world.

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