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Feminism

Hello, I am a senior in high school and as my last research paper in HS I have chosen to write about gender inclusive language. Besides any general resources you might have about the issue, I would particularly like information on the following. Thank you - Elissa:

  • When did gender inclusive language first became an issue in feminism?
  • When did the issue first get addressed by the general public?
  • What positive role did the Christian Church play in promoting gender inclusive language and/or feminism?


I have provided my answers to your questions below. However, these are my opinions - so I encourage you to get other people's opinions, too. Also, there are many articles by the Australian Dale Spender about words/language and their role within feminism.

Also, Gloria Steinem has an article, "Words and Change," which is available in her book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.

  • When did gender inclusive language first became an issue in feminism?
    I think that language has always been a priority for feminists, but it wasn't until the mid-60s to early 70s that results started to appear. For instance, feminists fought for the term 'battered woman', 'sexual assault', 'gender discrimination' and 'sexual harassment' This was really about naming things that otherwise didn't have a term and were simply referred to as "life." This naming was very much a priority of the Second Wave of feminism. The other half of this naming is what is wrongly termed "politically correct" language. I say wrongly termed because the point wasn't to make people speak rigidly, but to realize the subtle ways that language had an impact. This got exploited on college campuses and people rebelled against this, but not without first changing their tune. For instance, 'chairperson' rather than the presumed 'chairman'.

  • When did the issue first get addressed by the general public?
    I think this is explained in the above, but I would say that the general public -- compared to policy makers and activists and concerned individuals -- really started to responded in the 80s with the rise of what is termed politically correct.

  • What positive role did the Christian Church play in promoting gender inclusive language and/or feminism?
    This is am impossible question to answer because for every positive example to come from the Christian Church (supporting gay marriages and counselors for sexual assault) there is a negative example (the Catholic Churches still prevent women from being priests, condemn pre-marital sex and the use of birth control). So while certain parishes may have produced some good, the overall conclusion is that Christianity has done relatively little to improve women's lives.


Amy

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