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 legitimate any abuse towards the female. The same as master and slaves, white and blacks, royals and the common people.ou que l’on parle à une personne ?
La catégorie homme/femme est considéré, évident, "naturel". C'est la premier catégorie (et de loins la plus important et appliqué) que l'on utilise pour décrire les autres.
En même temps, il est curieux de noter, que le terme homme/femme ne nous donne aucune information pertinente.
Don't take our word on this, challenge us.
Can you find one (not even two) element that unified all members in the female or male group?
Strange as it may seem, currently, no one, ever, offered a satisfactory answer.
We regularly define objects by their common denominator physically or practically wise. Example for physical, cow, mountain; for practice, table, a cup, a wallet. As humans this helps us to describe objects and phenomena that are external to our group.
When we describe** other humans we refer to their personality. She is a reliable, courageous, humanist, abusive, manipulative, etc' person. We value/disrespect an athlete, a writer, a searcher, by the quality of their action not by their physical attributes.
While we are attracted to others also by their physical attributes (Nose's shape, belly size, etc'), we don't use these attributes to qualify the person as a whole.
** Rejection of other by a physical attribute, ex: skin colour, unfortunately exists. This however, strengthen our argument. The individual of a given group, are excluded from the human community. The human who describe them actually don't consider the 'other' to be humans. When describing other people from their own group, they will value them by their personality.
Women are equal humans beings. This is at least what all western, and even most western countries, officially declare.
If so, why do we describe them by a physical attribute rather by their personality? After all, this isn't the way we human use our language to describe other humans, why do we cherish this concept ? what necessity does it serve?
Slightly amusing, the most important artificial category* in human language, is a category that doesn't provide any information.
Let's examine some motivations at the base this linguistic irregularity.
La categorisation des humains selon leur forme génitale, appeared after the agricultural revolution, 12K yeas ago. At the time, it distinguish those who were restricted to domestic tasks and those we were entitled to participate in the spiritual life (ex: politics, arts). While there were queens and female artists, they were rare exceptions to this dominant rule.
Women were also defined by a common physical denominator, their genital. women by their genital. The is exactly the way humans defines non-human, a spoon, a dog, a plant.
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 legitimate any abuse towards the female. The same as master and slaves, white and blacks, royals and the commun people.
In the last 150 years or so, mankind witness a singular and an unprecedented event - the liberation of woman. For the first time in the last 12K years, the mankind society is (slowly) transformed into a human society.
Since language is culture and culture is language, this event also deprived the term gender from its historical meaning.
Currently, we are left with a linguistic category that is an empty, it doesn't tell us anything about its members. For a language to be considered as such it has to relate a group of signs to a given meaning. Currently, male and female are only group of sound, they have no meaning.
Yet,we still keep using them exactly as before...why?
Not good enough... We don't preserve tradition at any costs. We fought slavery, we seek democracy, we fight for human rights. Most traditions simply disappear as they are replaced by other ways that suits better the time's need and values. We use computer to perform calculates rather than abacus and trains rather than horses. Monarchs and priests find if much harder today to abuse innocent victims, Phlebotomy is practised in SM clubs, not as a treatment.
When we do preserve historical institution, we do so because we cherish them at present, because we validate them, not because we hang on our past. Museums, libraries are considered important for understanding our evolution and provide us a cultural perspective. Regional and native languages are preserved as a way to preserved an identify certain groups value.
Preserving the linguistic deformations of a gender biased language, just because it belongs to our past isn't a valid argument because this is a ad-hoc principle. Since we don't apply this argument to preserve other tradition, applying this only for the language is arbitrary.
False. They evolve constantly. It enough to open any institutional language site around the world (ex French, Turkish academies, etc') or governmental institutions to note - new words are introduced to keep up with social changes. PodCast, USB key, etc' Brain Scan receive a local terminology.
Per-Se, language don't have any inherent conditional limit on gender modifications. However, these institutions lack a legislative and operatives powers. They range of action is limited.
De facto however, this is meaningless, as linguistic academies oppose genderless languages. This opposition has a considerable consequences. Languages are common institutions. As changes need to be applied by a large group, the opposition of the French Academy to the inclusive language de-legitimated the latter and holds back its evolution.
A potential argument is our race's difficulty to assimilate complex changes. This reasoning, isn't strong though. While our race's limits are clearly a problem, we did manage to quickly assimilate far and much more abstract changes. The Copernican revolution, Einstein's relativity (i.e. time's relativity) and Darwin's evolution theory are clear examples of abstract and profound changes that were assimilate into our life, very quickly.
Our race however, ignore situations it doesn't want to deal with, because of laziness, ignorance, preserving a give power and fear of unknown situations. Racial issues, socio-economic questions, climate change considerations are some contemporary examples. Often people oppose them even if they actually improve their social, political and financial conditions.
Changes require effort and while we like to pretend we are effort averts, we defines ourselves by the effort we spend time on. Making war, trying to avoid them, fighting for social justice or to buy more guns. Political issues, define who we are fighting for and thus who we are.
We are left, with only one coherent argument. It serves us well. Dominators and people who aren't damaged by the situation, don't use to be active in changing it. Those who are affected by it, are far from the position from which change happen.
While this is a clear reason it isn't a good one. That is this reason is a hidden one. Something one do, but not something one recognized.
Setting aside moral arguments, this is at least problematic linguistically wise. Maintaining a word for something it actually don't say but hide, isn't what we use the language for.
Comment on this article (sign in first or confirm by name and email below)