<The Gender ADs Project>

 

Linguistic Violence

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<Background: Linguistic utterances offer us many lessons about the inequalities that pervade our society. Language itself is a source of inequality in our lives. Particularly troubling is the presence of derogatory and violent terms for women in English. As Muriel Schulz suggests, “a comparison of the metaphors cat and dog illustrates the difference evident in many terms designating male and female humans. The term for the female is more likely to become pejorative, more likely to acquire sexual suggestions, and less likely to be transferable to a male” (1990:141). The Ads: Almost all of the ads use the negative word "bitch" to dehumanize women. Notice that some of the ads suggest that the term is a positive value for women (as in #s 3 and 5).  Discussion Questions: (1) Why is linguistic violence of this sort often tolerated when, sometimes, there is reaction against racist language (at least in advertising)? (2) Do you know men or women who would tolerate ads such as these? If so, what reasons would be given for their tolerating these ads? (3) What is the effect of such linguistic degradation on children? >

 

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<presented by Scott A. Lukas, Ph.D.>