Words Make Men More Important
When a woman marries she usually takes her husband’s name.
We still describe all of us as men, man, mankind, brotherhood, fellowship…
And we are still more likely to use “he” than “she” when describing a person with no specific referent.
Usually, men come first, too: Men and women, boys and girls, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, guys and gals, guys and dolls…
With a few exceptions:
- Most of us (even men) are closer to mom than dad, so it’s usually, “Mom and dad.”
- Since women so often get second-rate treatment, every now and then we try to balance the scales by placing women on a pedestal, “Ladies and gentlemen.”
Women made secondary on purpose
Women were made secondary on purpose.
In an article called, “Disappearing Tricks” Dale Spender explains that in 1553 grammarians created a rule that men come before women — because it’s natural (???)
By 1746 grammarians concluded that there was no need to include women at all. Humans are “men.”
Why? Because the male is more comprehensive. Man embraces woman. Man is simply more important.
Yet people often failed to follow the rule, perhaps saying “they” instead of “he.”
By 1850 grammarians convinced Parliament to pass a law proclaiming that man = woman.
Words have consequences.
Language works like covert propaganda. We hear words all of our lives from the time we are born. Unsophisticated young-uns cannot think critically about the things we hear. Plus, everyone around us uses these words, so it feels natural and normal.
And seeps into our unconscious.
And so, ever so subtly we learn our place.
Girls and women learn that we are the second sex.