In a lecture at Iowa State University, University of Michigan Professor Anne Curzan argued that the English language is “sexist.”
In a lecture entitled, “Politically Correct: Do Our Language Choices Matter?” Anne Curzan, the associate dean of humanities and professor of English at the University of Michigan, argued that the English language is “sexist.”
Curzan argued that gendered words such as “chairman,” and “congressman,” which are incorrectly considered to be applicable to both men and women, are reflections of 18th-century language practices that were devised by male supremacists:
Curzan pointed out that it wasn’t until 2009 that Congress recognized that government positions such as the chair head of a committee, formerly referred to as a chairman, should change their titles to encompass all potential candidates.
It is often thought that the suffix “man” is an all-inclusive and general term, but Curzan compared this to using “woman” as a position suffix. For example, “camerawoman” is not viewed as an all-inclusive title.
This is a practice dating back to the 1700s when male superiority was emphasized through saying in congressional documents, “the masculine encompasses the feminine.”
Curzan’s thesis is seemingly that language choices can have a deep impact on societal attitudes, in this case, towards women.
“It’s very hard to get people to change their language, but changing language does have the power to change attitudes,” she said.
Curzan concluded by arguing that changes must be made to the English language if America is to become an “equal and inclusive” society for women.
Tom Ciccotta is a libertarian who writes about economics and higher education for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @tciccotta or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org