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Hi, I'm in need of some help. I'm looking for the history and references (if available) of provocative phrases. The following is an example: "rule of thumb" - the history of the phrase is that men were not allowed to discipline (beat) their wives with switches thicker than their thumbs.

I'm really having a hard time with this as most of the feminist, bias-free dictionaries only refer to words, and it's specifically COMMONLY USED PHRASES I'm interested in. If you can steer me in the right direction, or know of specific examples, please let me know. Thanks (can't wait) - Angela

I'm not quite sure what other phrases you might be referring to, but as for the "rule of thumb" - that comes from a legal term--and can be found in Blackwells. If you need the background information on that phrase, I would be happy to send it to you--just send me your mailing address.

As for other phrases, my only suggestion is to check out Amazons, Bluestockings and Crones edited by Cheris Kramarae and Paula S. Treichler. Susan Faludi describes this as "A dictionary of our own."


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