There is no denying that communication is one of the keys to success for individuals in a rapidly changing world. Why do mere words carry too much power? First of all, language can develop one’s consciousness from infancy. Children learning the language are likely to absorb the cultural assumptions, myths and prejudice underlying language use. Social inequity reflected in language, thus, can powerfully shapes children’s later behaviors and attitudes.
In this way, language affects socialization of the community where it belongs. The aim of this paper is to develop human perspectives on sexism in language, its manifestations and its negative impacts on women. From theory to practice, the paper, furthermore, equips its readers with relevant guidelines to stay away from unwittingly using sexist language and apply the gender-neutral language.
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Sexism or gender discrimination means treating people differently on the grounds of their genders, which they were born to be. In a popular old feminist slogan, which goes “You start by sinking into his arms and end up with your arms in his sink”, the prevalence of sexism is beyond question. For years, men have held the dominant position of power and ruled the world while women have been considered inferior and useless. Even in our modern times, millions of women across the world are living in inequality, in injustice: their basic human rights are severely infringed due to no other reasons than their gender.
Discrimination against women is manifested in numerous aspects of life such as education, work, enjoyment of benefits, freedom, power, etc. Take education as an example. Women, who make up 66% of the world’s illiterate adults, may account for 55% of college students but even after they successfully completed the same course of education or training, their equal work opportunities, and equal treatment in their career life are not guaranteed.
According to Women’s World Summit Foundation, globally, women perform 66% of the world’s work, but receive only 11% of the world’s income, and own only 1% of the world’s land. Also, a report released in August 2007 by the US Census Statistics showed that women’s earnings in 2006 were 76.9% of men’s, leaving the wage gap statistically unchanged from last year
The manifestation of sexism can be found almost everywhere on earth, from most developed countries to developing countries and under-developed ones in Asia and Africa. In parts of the world, like China, India and Vietnam, parents may terminate the foetus or put the baby up to adoption on the basis that it is a girl. Abuses against women are social epidemics throughout the world.
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