test something and anothe somthing
language isn't scientific. it is man-made and not an objective tools. Words exist because they anwer human needs to communicate terms and human made categories, egardless the act i these categories really exist in the objective world.
A photo and a selphie are technically an image taken by a cellphone. They are both identidcal in their essence and yet, they do provide a very helpul term to communicate about a human behaviour that emerged in the last 15 years. The term selphi exist because we integrated it into our language and because we use it. Language changes, words come and go grom varied reasons - not because o objective easons but because o socio-cultural and human conditions.
How did this term appeared and evolved ?
I can of course cannot answer this question. Currently there is not evidence that the masculine dominance existed before the agricultural revolution. While it might be the case, it also might not. Historians struggle to decide if gender hierarchy existed before. Accordingly, we can only state that the categorisation of humans according to the form of their genitals appeared after the agricultural revolution 12K yeas ago.
"With the move to permanent villages the population began to grow... Woman were able to give birth every year... The extra hands were soarely needed in the fields...but the extra mouth quickly wiped out the food surplus... child mortality soared. At least one child out of three died before reaching twenty" (Sapiens) This reality excluded women from be part of the political life while men occupied this vacuum. Kings-dictators came to power, representing themselves as God's messengers. While it is hard to state these were the clear cause of gender bi-caterozation, it does portrays a background and factors that support this vision. It is also a fact that gender bi-caterozation existed since then.
Linguistically wise It is safe to say that this bi-caterozation helped to distinguish between those who were restricted to domestic tasks and those we were entitled to participate in the spiritual life (ex: politics, arts). While occasionally history witnessed queens and female artists, those were the rare exceptions not the rule.
Setting aside any moral consideration, this definition was linguistically justified. It provided substantive information about the world. It helped to clearly distinguish between those who are human, and those who seems like human but were actually slaves, an inferior type. Besides the phenomenological specification, this definition had a very important psychological value, it legitimated any abuse towards the female. The same as master and slaves, white and blacks, royals and the common people, rich and poor - woman cannot complain as their abuse was according to the rules of the game.
In the last 150 years or so, mankind witnesses a singular event - and the most important socio-geo-political event in the last 12K yeas - a transition from a patriarchal society towards a human society. For the first time since the agricultural revolution, woman are allowed (slowly) to be part of the human society and participate in non-domestic activities.
The assumption, axiomatic in all cultures almost up to our the last 2-3 generations, was that spiritual matters pertain to men and not to humankind at large. Even cultures which assigns women a very high status (much higher than they had in Classical Greece, for example) and holds their functions in the home and within the family in the highest esteem, do not grant women equal partnership in sustaining spiritual life. This is common to religions as well as modern secular culture. Only in the nineteenth century were secondary schools for girls established in the enlightened Western world, and until the end of the nineteenth century women did not set foot in the academic milieu. Even suffrage was not granted to European and American women until after World War II (In Switzerland only in 1971), that is, no more than two generations ago! This is of course reflected by our language.
When people say the masculine language actually flatters women, when the minister of education states that inclusive language isn't necessary, when the French Academy finds it pointless, they basically tell us more about how actually the language was applied than about how it should be applied. It is not coincidence that many of the regulations in this connection are introduced by the words: "it does not the serve the interest of women to…" or "It does not reflect favourably upon a woman…". This however, is merely the way that it was, not how it should be.
The discussion about gender biased language is often charged with strong emotional and high tones. Currently, there is a strong opposition to gender free language. The divers motivations would be addressed in a separate article. For the current topic, those motivations aren't of importance. Even if the are valid, which they are not, it still doesn't provide an answer to the question what is the information is communicate through the word woman/men.
While the word woman is still used as it was 200 years ago, it describe a different entity. Woman aren't any more second class citizen. They are equal before the law and first class citizens, at least as our laws and human rights treaties declare.
That means that women are entitled to have a self identify and are encouraged to do so. They aren't defined anymore by the others, by men.
Yet, when a woman says "I am a woman", what does it really say? In which sense she is a woman like any other woman who says the same thing? What do they have in common?
All women, most of them at least, can share a cultural heritage of discrimination, abuse, being second best, being inferior to men. I have no intention to argue with this. Intuitively, I support this argument as it seems sound.
Nevertheless, this doesn't create an identity. It merely concerns the fact that all women were defined by men in a certain way. It isn't the way woman identify herself. Sharing a prison cell, or an office, with other people, offer a common experience, a similar view, familiar situations but it doesn't create an identify. Else, our identify is defined the the average of the people who are living with us in the same building.
This is a curious observation, rather than a logical argument.
Feminism set serious obstacles before most of our social institutions. Religions, language academies, States who prefer to preserve the old social structure, etc'. Those institutions have a clear motivation and sufficient economical and political means to show that women are at least different, that they are not like men.
Yet, none of those institutions ever manage show it. Moreover, none of them even tried to tackle this issue seriously.
There are also social media 'like hunters' who would say whatever it takes to be under the spotlight.
Yet, no one, ever, managed to define what does it show any attribute that is inherently, systematically belong to a person just because this person is a male or a female.
It is rather curios that our language is conditioned by a category that doesn't provide any clear meaning. One of languages main role after all, is communication - the transmission of a clear message. Placing vague terms at the center of the communication only makes a difficult task much harder. It is like placing a noise generator at max volume in a quiet room where two people try to dialogue.
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