Does the language we use matter? I think so. If you only ever hear talk of fireMEN OR policeMEN or books and articles constantly refer to ‘he’, it is sending out a message about who is in charge. The use of fire-fighter and police officer gives a much more gender neutral message!
In truth it can be cumbersome to always try and address both genders and the results are not always elegant. However, metaphor has an important role in our understanding and story telling so it does matter.
When I was in management I often got irked by the male metaphors constantly used in meetings (by both genders). In the grand scheme of things it’s a relatively minor irritation but sometimes for fun I would deliberately inject a few female metaphors. (See my last post Twisted Sister for an attempt at this – did it work?)
Share Your Feminist Metaphors & Analogies
So let’s have a bit of fun. Think of as many male type phrases in constant use in the workplace currently, such as:
Run it up the flag pole and see who salutes
Ball park figure
Move the goal posts
Throw in the towel (boxing)
Spitting (or other things) into the wind
I’m sure you have loads of your own to add. Now, try to imagine a conversation or business meeting where all those phrases are replaced with ones which strongly relate to the other half of the population. What have you got? Please share! I’ll send a fee download of my book to the best or funniest!
Posted on December 13th, 2011 by Jane