Gender & Language

How we speak and the language we use matters.
What are the subtle or transparent hegemonic themes you are enabling or engaging with when you chose to speak about a woman or man in a particular way?
What are the links to how you speak and how it is accepted or resisted?
 Are you engaging with how that links to emotional, physical, sexual, financial and legislative abuse of another because of gender?
Where is your  gender related behaviour motivated from? Love, fear, power or equality.Are you acknowledging the advantages you have because of where you are born, income, race, gender and belief system and what that enables in your life for no other reason than luck?Have you considered you live a privileged life because of those factors, that perhaps you do not see the huge inequities and power imbalances around you because you are protected from them?
Many aspects of language and everyday life have a latent gender bias. Stating this is not about blame but engaging with reality and deciding how we can act to address these inequalities from a place of acknowledgment and compassion.

These questions have been circulating around my brain: partly because I have been living in the developing world for nearly a year where gender disparities can be a little more blatant. But also because it feels that many do not engage with the intrinsic privilege that comes from the gender they are born into.  It is an assumed privilege, one that is not earned on merit, but by genetic chance.

This privilege is real and blatant, and also, in the developed world, subtle and underhand in articulation. As determined by gender, we engage in very real and different sets of expectations which affect access, power, agency and life quality.

This is illustrated through victim blaming, legislation, language that is gender assigned and has stronger negative connotations because of it, through how one can express one’s power or maturity, the standards you are expected to meet, your value in the market place (  Gender pay gaps are again increasing across the developed world – and up to 48 percent in Australia if you work in the health and community services sector) and influences expectations around appearance, career, how you behave, expressions of sexuality etc. Gender affects every aspect of existence.

And let’s be real here, the issue isn’t gender, its women.

Women  DO Not have real equality anywhere on this planet. Some places may be better than others but a true equality  does not exist when  by being born female you are engaged with from a hegemonic “women and other minorities” framework. Where our bodies are legislated against so we are unable by law to make decisions that affect every aspect our lives without it potentially being a criminal act. Where women who are successful are systematically targeted by the main stream media and their femaleness is targeted rather than their actions.

All of these things are connected to language, how power structures developed and predominantly male run speak, how men and women talk about each other, how dialogue around gender issues occurs and what the reaction points are.

Consider your language around gender – it is important – and is indicative of power and respect, love and fear. How you speak is how you think and that is indicative of everything when it comes to how your gender plays out in the world and how you live because of it.

Dancing with gender anger

I feel angry.

I feel angry that as a woman it appears that I have no choice but to be a feminist in order to protect and defend my right to be equal because by genetic chance I was born female. I feel angry that by having a womb, breasts, ovaries, a uterus, a cervix and a vagina that I have to interact with a subtle latent secondary set of cultural and societal rules in order to justify my innate right of equality.

I am human and from my perspective all humans are equal regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality or gender. So why is it then this humanness of mine is constantly challenged by statements such as “No doesn’t always mean no,” by US federal agencies such as FEMA and by some political parties wanting to legislate what I can and cannot do with my body?

Why do I have to read about men discussing how my body can shut down the reproductive process if I have experienced a “legitimate rape”? Why do terms such as “emergency rape”, “honest rape”, “enjoyable rape”, “forcible rape” and  “gift from god rape” even exist as terminology?

Why does it matter what I wear and why can I not walk home alone late at night, why is that even questioned? Why is it I get told to “calm down” when expressing a valid cohesive perspective in the work environment? (When a male colleague two minutes later says the same thing and nothing about his emotional state is mentioned.) Why is a male colleague allowed to say to a female co-worker “you are being emotional” when he would never say such a thing to a male colleague? Why is it okay to comment on my age, appearance and weight? Why does my appearance even matter? Why is it I have to justify feeling angry about having to ask if a “women asked for it” when reporting on a rape story for a national newspaper? Why is it when a women defends herself after constant and ongoing subtle sexist and misogynistic comments she is called “attacking” by mainstream media? Why is it that though I have more consumer power then men, I  still generally get paid less and have less representation in business and in government? Why is my strength and intellect a weapon used against me and why am I sometimes feared and termed as “ball busting” when a male would be called a “go getter” or “analytical and progressive”? Why is it a friend got asked if she had a husband when applying for a job and then told  that as she might get pregnant there was no job for her? Why are essential products needed because I menstruate highly taxed in some countries? Why does it cost more financially to be a woman than a man?

I could go on but it seems redundant.

And let me be clear. Because I feel angry about this doesn’t mean I hate men, I love men, some of the best and dearest people in my life are men. I hate the fact I even need to state that.

Why is it that if I am angry about gender injustice some will argue it is because I hate men?

Why is it if I feel angry about gender injustice my sexually is  sometimes questioned?  Why is it okay to call me a “Fucking feminist”, “Fucking dyke”, “fucking cunt“, as if those things would be an insult if they applied , if I dare question the status quo?

Until recently I didn’t refer to myself as a feminist as I equated it with too much anger but now I do feel angry.I am fed up with the latent under currents I deal with, the justifications and hoops I sometimes have to jump through because of my gender.

I don’t want to feel angry – I want equity. I want that universally for all women and men – we deserve balance.

I don’t want to deal with comments. I don’t want to have to prove anything, to have evidence.

I don’t want to be denied justice because the hassle of reporting an incident to the police is adversarial and traumatic.

I want to be happy.

I want to be good at my job just because I am good at my job. I want to walk home at one in the morning because that is when I chose to go home. I want to wear a tight skirt because I like it and it makes me feel good. I want to have lovers and not risk being called a slut.

I want to live my life the way I want and it not be a big deal I’m not married and don’t have children. I want to live my daily life and not deal with harassment.

I just want to be happy doing what I am doing and for no one to comment. It’s not a big deal. I’m just a woman- get over it.