Гендер і мова. Дослідження зв’язку між поняттями (реферат)

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“Гендер і мова.

Дослідження зв’язку між поняттями”

(англійською мовою)


Introduction. Much of the meaning conveyed Contemporary equality
movement has focused much attention on the issues of socialization into
gender roles and of sexist discourse. These issues are profoundly
interrelated, since the everyday discourse with which children are
surrounded from the day of their birth, in which they themselves become
eventual participants, is a primary means by which socialization is
effected about what it is to be female and male. In fact, implicit
meanings are undoubtedly more effective, insofar as they remain
unquestioned, and hence unproblematic. Equality between men and women,
in particular, have questioned social attitudes and social practice
concerning gender and, by doing so, have rendered problematic what was
previously, for many, entirely uncontentious-a non-issue. By naming
certain attitudes and behavior sexist, a word that did not exist until
very recently, attention has been focused on those attitudes and
behavior in a way that was not previously possible. The equality stance,
speaking on behalf of women, has been highly critical of contemporary
society. They have seen women’s interests as consistently subordinated
to those of men, women’s personalities systematically distorted in the
service of their subordination, women’s capacities underrated or denied,
their desire for autonomy frustrated and ridiculed, their sexuality at
one and the same time denied, feared, and exploited, and their image
trivialized and sentimentalized. Much of the response to this
comprehensive naming of social injustice with respect to women has been
to deny that any injustice is involved, to deny that the issue of gender
is in any way problematic: men are men, women are women, and that’s
that. The basis of such denial of the problematic nature of gender is
usually that male and female are seen as fundamental, natural,
self-evident categories (for some, they have the even greater force of
being regarded as God-given categories), whose naturalness and
obviousness depends on seeing the social category of gender as deriving
automatically and exclusively from the biological category of sex…
There is no doubt that the biological difference between male and female
is of considerable importance in human societies. It seems equally
beyond doubt that what is regarded as appropriate behavior for males and
females, other than that directly consequent on those biological
differences differ widely from one society to another. It is also
readily observable that even where social expectations are strong and
explicit, some variability in the behavior of males and females does
occur: many will conform to expected patterns of behavior, but some
 will not. All of this suggests that biological sex (identification as
female or male) needs to be distinguished from social gender
(identification as feminine or masculine), since the latter is not an
automatic consequence of the former. If gender is a social creation,
then one should be able to find evidence that this is so, including
evidence of the process of its creation. In particular, one should be
able to find linguistic evidence, since language is the primary means by
which we create the categories that subsequently come to organize our
lives for us. Such evidence is indeed to be found: from the different
treatment by parents of newborn babies, depending on sex; through the
reiterated messages given to four-year-olds that women and women’s
activities are marginal and trivial  ; through the social approval of
the writing of little girls at school who write almost exclusively about
home and family, elves and fairies, and talking animals while their male
classmates get on with the business of finding out how the world outside
school and family works and produce what stories they write with the
twin focuses of power and violence; through TV, films, and books; to the
categories taken for granted in everyday conversation. Difference is
simply assumed, with no awareness of the extent to which adult behavior
creates that difference. If it were simply a matter of difference,
however, where men and women had their own spheres of activity with
rights and status and a complete range of possibilities for achievement
within those spheres, then one might feel less concerned. But however
much some groups and individuals might like to maintain that this is
indeed the case in our society, it is not so. Three consequences of this
differentiation in our society should be of concern: 1. The
institutionalized inequality/inferiority of women, where they have been
denied the right to engage in certain activities-to be certain kinds of
people-and their activities and their very selves denigrated and
trivialized. 2. The institutionalized channeling of human diversity
along two and only two pathways, the choice determined only by which set
of genitalia one happens to be born with, with the consequent damage to,
and misery of, individuals who, for a variety of reasons, fail to
fulfill the stereotyped expectations, to say nothing of the loss to
society itself of diverse talents. 3. The institutionalized hostility
between male and female (a complex consequence of both the above). This
hostility is most frequently realized in action by male against female,
as, for example, in the violation of the right to personal space. A more
extreme violation of female by male is the violation of self/identity
that is rape. Such hostility is all too commonly discernible, however,
in the everyday words of girls and boys, men and women, with respect to
one another, words flung in one another’s faces or muttered with anger
or resentment behind one another’s backs. These issues are of importance
to all members of our society, but they should be of particular concern
to parents and to educators, because they are the primary agents of the
society in the socialization of children into these institutionalized
attitudes. It is at their hands that children learn their initial
categorizations of the world they live in, including the evaluations
attached to those categorizations. It is from their mouths that children
hear the words, and the ways of speaking, that will eventually become
their words, their ways of speaking. Children do not remain passive
recipients of the socialization efforts of others but become active
agents of their own socialization as they acquire command of the
meanings available to them through command of the words and ways of
speaking of those around them. We need to know what it is we are
teaching our children to think and feel about themselves and about each
other as female and male, and what are the means by which they have come
to learn to think and feel thus. Much of the public debate, such as it
is, arising from feminist critiques of language in relation to gender
has focused on words and word-forms (such as diminutives) that overtly
denigrate, trivialize, or exclude women and which assume or cultivate
stereotypes of both women and men. The existence of such words is
clearly of importance: the usual explanation is that the existence and
use of such words and forms of words unambiguously reveals social
attitudes and beliefs. One must go further than words, however, in terms
of 1. What one takes into consideration as linguistic, as part of
language; and 2. How one regards the relationship between language and
thought/ ideas/beliefs. These issues will be investigated in the
following chapters of my work.

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