19 December, 2005

Man Made Language

Dale Spender's Man Made Language is a radical feminist analysis of language published in 1980. This is a highly influential text for the women's movement as a whole and specifically for the discipline of women's studies. Spender articulates a theory of the male control over the English language and the way that women have been systematically silenced through the forms of language, the conventions of male and female speech, the exclusion of women from print culture and the patriarchal structures at the heart of the gatekeeping process.
'The dichotomy of public/private becomes significant in any consideration of writing and the sexes: males are associated with the public sphere (that is published writing) while females are associated with the private sphere. Females who take up their pen have, at least, the potential to enter the public sphere and thereby to cross - and confound - classification boundaries. This makes the woman writer, like the woman speaker, a contradiction in terms, and a contradiction which not only has to be accommodated by patriarchal order, but by women writers as well.'(p. 191)

feminism and philosophy of language

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