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Sentamu Sentinel April 2022 – Mind your language

“Mind your language”

As we celebrate International Women’s Month, International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day in the month of March, Tymisha Davies and Head Girl Eleanor Woolley explore women’s representation in everyday language.

Misogyny, derived from the Ancient Greek word mīsoguníā, is a hatred or contempt for women. But hatred is a strong word, right? Surely such hatred is not common? Misogyny is not always obvious; it is not always the assault and femicide that we have become accustomed to.

In our current day and age, and especially within our society, our schools and colleges, it is extremely important to identify the language spoken by our peers and be able to recognise misogynistic language directed towards women when we hear it. Specifically, during the time of International Women’s Month, it should be acknowledged that the language used by many male peers and female peers too, may very well be of a misogynistic nature, and this language needs to be tackled in our society.

It is easy to recognise words and phrases of this nature to be ‘normalised’ but in fact, these words can cause a great deal of damage to those it is used upon, and may make women feel greatly inferior, intimidated and threatened. In school environments, many commonly used phrases are ignored as they are just used ‘everywhere’. In this piece, we aim to tackle these types of misogynistic language.

Quite often, phrases used by both students and teachers up and down the country may passively denigrate a woman without ‘realising’, which is harmful to not only the people involved but the people that may use this language in the future (which acts as a domino effect). For example, telling a young man to “take it like a man”, or counselling them to “grow a pair” are, although directed to young men, often have the indirect effect of perpetuating dangerous myths about gender and ‘toughness’.

However, many insults that are thrown directly at women need to be addressed and called out for what they are: unacceptable in a society that is meant to be ‘well established’ and ‘civilised’. This distorted acceptance of such norms of language needs to be revoked and diminished in order to achieve equality in our world.

With recent developments in communication technology, misogyny has naturally developed in both form and usage. The internet, and in particular social media platforms, have been a place for these derogatory acts to manifest and embed themselves in a way that is threatening to our wider offline culture. Considering many of us use social media in our day to day lives, it is important to call out this behaviour when we see it online. The most important stand for us to take is to denormalise these attitudes, and create an environment where people are held accountable for what they say. It is only then that we will be able to begin to bridge the inequalities between men and women and give women their rightful place in society, free from the demonising and dehumanising influence of corrosive language.

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