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  • Women and men face double standards.

  • No, I don't mean just the gender pay gap,

  • I'm also talking about the different words we use

  • to describe men and women with the same characteristics.

  • While he is described as charismatic,

  • she's often described as bubbly or vivacious.

  • You wouldn't describe him as an airhead, he's just simple.

  • She's an airhead.

  • She's bossy.

  • He's assertive.

  • Women are far more likely than men

  • to be described as gossiping.

  • If you don't believe me, after this film,

  • try a Google images search for gossip.

  • Unlike French, German, Spanish, Polish,

  • practically any other European language,

  • English doesn't have gender inherent in most of its words.

  • But some of those words become gendered anyway when choose

  • different words to describe men and women.

  • Feisty is a classic example.

  • It's rare to hear a man described as feisty.

  • Sure, you could hear about a feisty boxer

  • but it's a lot more likely to describe a flyweight

  • than a heavyweight.

  • That's why some women hear feisty

  • as applying a kind of figurative or literal smallness

  • in them and hence a note of condescension.

  • Academics from the University of Illinois

  • and the University of California analyzed over 100,000 works

  • of fiction written between 1800 and 2010.

  • They identified words connecting to male or female

  • characters and the actions they performed.

  • The study showed that the word house used to be a strongly

  • male term in the 1800s.

  • House was associated with the landed gentry

  • in Victorian era.

  • But as the 20th century wore on,

  • house became a slightly more female term

  • associated with domesticity.

  • The writer Ben Blatt found that the verbs

  • most associated with the pronoun she in classic fiction are:

  • shivered, wept, murmured, screamed, and married.

  • The most commonly associated with he are:

  • muttered, grinned, shouted, chuckled, and killed.

  • An algorithm used by those academics who studied house

  • tries to determine a character's gender based only

  • on the language used in descriptions and dialogue.

  • These predictions were right 75% of the time

  • for books written around 1800 but that falls to just about

  • 65% of the time in books written around 2000.

  • In other words, the vocabulary used to describe

  • women and men is becoming more blurred.

  • So the gender stereotypes like feisty are less common

  • than they used to be.

  • Nearly all words have different shades of meaning.

  • While the speaker intends the positive one,

  • the hearer often hears the negative.

  • And that's a good reason to avoid compliments that convey

  • a note of surprise.

  • Lane, you are so articulate.

  • Really?

  • Scouring your mind for a vocative language isn't easy

  • but working hard to be original and to avoid giving

  • unwanted offense can only be a good thing.

Women and men face double standards.

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B1 US describe gender language written female male

Sexism and the English language | The Economist

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    Priscilla posted on 2018/09/28
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