Feminism and language

Karin Milles
Table of contents

This entry aims at describing the relationship between language and feminism, which is a complex and multifaceted one. Like all political movements, the feminist movement and its advocates have been using language to promote feminist interests. Feminists have been delivering speeches, founding magazines, using slogans, and producing theoretical concepts to understand the nature of the oppression of women, among many other things. But unlike most political movements, the feminist movement has also identified language as one of its main challenges, pinpointing its active part in the oppression of women and making the struggle for equality, empowerment, and liberation harder. The critique has had two major themes: verbal degradation, and the silencing of women. This has made sexist language, e.g., gendered structures in the grammar and vocabulary of language, and ideologically motivated sex differences in linguistic practice such as the ban on female public speaking the focus of the critique.

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