Feminist Talk?

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

2 Responses to “Feminist Talk?”

  1. Sharron Caunce says:

    I don’t feel upset by any of these statements, it doesn’t in anyway make me feel inferior, and if we know that men and women are equal why would this phraseology matter? It only matters if one suspects that they are not equal in the first place.

  2. Hi Jane – I think we have to be careful about also not getting to caught up in our own outdated stereotypes. Today women play all sports so I feel less sensitive about these anaolgies than I might have years ago. Are sports metaphors as gender biased as they used be? I’m not so sure any more. Personally I think the better route is to get more women into sport!

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