Feminism | Posted by Talia on 06/7/2013

In Defense of “Freshperson”

Next Fall, I’ll be enrolling in my first year of college. I’ll be a freshman – a concept that’s giving me pause not just because I’m questioning the existentialist quality of being a freshman, but because of the word itself. Why must I be a freshman?

According to dictionary.com, the word “freshman” comes from the words fresh (as in new) and man (as in not woman), and has been used to refer to first year university students since the 1590s. This term is clearly a relic of ye olden dayes (or, for some schools, a few decades ago) when higher education was a realm solely accessibly to (usually rich, upper class, white, able-bodied) men. Although we have abolished or significantly limited the usage of numerous gender-insensitive …

More >

Pop-Culture | Posted by Celeste D on 10/24/2012

On Cougars, Catfights and Cows

on comparing women with animals

Fox, cow, bitch, vixen, cougar, whale, chick. What do these terms have in common? They refer to animals. Anything else? They also refer to women.

As someone who learned to speak English as a second language and was not surrounded by these colloquialisms at an early age, I remember being puzzled when I first heard a woman called a “cougar” or “fox.” I remember finding the terms “cow” and “whale” particularly jarring and harsh, though the person who uttered them didn’t give it a second thought.

Admittedly, all human beings are sometimes associated with animals. Someone who eats quickly “wolfs down” their food, someone who is bossy “barks orders,” and someone who is dangerous is “animal.” (Not to mention the animal metaphors referring to sex …

More >

Feminism | Posted by LodB on 02/22/2012

Doctors, Nurses And One Terrific Professor

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="145" caption="language matters"][/caption] Recently, I was taking a course on linguistics, and we were discussing syntax. My professor asked the class-- a room of roughly a hundred English students, mostly female-- what pronoun to use when replacing the noun ‘boss’. It wasn’t a very serious question, but the response made him stop in his tracks. Over half the class had casually, but eagerly, called out ‘he’. It wasn’t until my astonished professor eyed us that everyone realised what they had said: that they had confirmed something we all thought to have been a thing of the past. There were nervous giggles and some shocked faces, including my own, because what’s so horrific is that I hadn’t realized it either.

More >

Feminism | Posted by Talia on 02/10/2012

Thoughts On Gender-Neutral Speech

does gender-neutral language really matter?

As I was doing my AP Psychology homework about the psychology of language recently, I came across some interesting studies about the effect of using gender-neutral speech.

Janet Hyde, a professor of psychology and women’s studies at University of Wisconsin – Madison, conducted a study in 1984 where she asked children to finish stories for which she gave them a first line, like “When a kid goes to school, ___ often feels excited on the first day.” When Dr. Hyde used the word he in the blank, almost all of the kids’ stories were about boys. When she used he or she, about a third of the stories were about girls. This effect is not only present in children, but has also been seen in …

More >

Feminism | Posted by Chelsea B on 06/1/2011

Bitch Is Not Bitchin’

Kobe Bryant: Fined for Using Anti-Gay Slur

Kobe Bryant: Fined for Using Anti-Gay Slur

So yet another sports figurehead is feeling the repercussions of using homophobic slurs during a game. A few weeks ago, LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for hurling an insult towards an NBA referee. Because of TV censorship, I never caught which word was actually used, but my guess is that it began with an “f” and rhymed with “maggot”. Now Joakim Noah, who plays for the Chicago Bulls, is facing similar consequences after following Kobe’s lead.

Homophobic slurs and gay-bashing still present themselves frequently, but the formation of various campaigns to stop such intolerance is slowly eradicating anti-gay sentiments. I’ve done my part to show support, for I believe the degradation of another individual shouldn’t be acceptable anywhere. That’s why …

More >