Article published in:Language and Gender in the Australian Context
Edited by Joanne Winter and Gillian Wigglesworth
[Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Series S 10] 1993
► pp. 54–85
The female radical
Portrayal of women in the Chinese script
The paper discusses the sexist portrayal of women in Mandarin Chinese. It begins with a study of asymmetries in the lexicon; e.g. naming conventions, address terms, abuse terms, etc. which exemplify the marginalisation of Chinese women. The focus of the paper is on the stereotyped depiction of women in the written script through an analysis of characters with the female radical. Our analyses indicate that 90% of words which co-occur with the female radical are either semantically negative or convey images of women steeped in damaging stereotypes. These sexist portrayals are further reinforced by the pervasive Yin-Yang cosmology, an ideology which has enormous impact on the Chinese way of life. We argue that despite popular belief, the Yin-Yang cosmology actively serves to maintain and fortify the gender imbalance. We also discuss the omission of language and gender issues from the agenda of past and current discourses on language reforms. Finally we advocate that language reform is a crucial impetus to ideological change.
Published online: 01 January 1993
Cited by other publications
Cherng, Rong-Ju, Chu-Lin Chang & Jenn-Yeu Chen
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